The Brown Deer Living Room Project

“Containers Up” is a local vendor who retrofits and rents customized, repurposed shipping containers that occupied the site in a loosely organized arrangement called the “Oasis” to provide temporary food and beverage and activity spaces for DIY crafts, live music, and wellness classes. The success of this pop-up event led the design team to incorporate more permanently sited, renovated shipping containers into the final design.

Brown Deer, Wisconsin

The Brown Deer Living Room Project got its name from the community as an expectation.  The site is a largely abandoned linear parcel about 120-feet by 700-feet in a rapidly redeveloping portion of the city. The west border is defined by an active railroad corridor while the east boundary includes the regional multi-use Oak Leaf Trail. The site has limited public street frontage along West Brown Deer Road which challenged views into the site but created opportunities to tie together diverse land uses. Parcels adjacent the project site are a mix of manufacturing, a municipal fire station and future library, small scale retail, office and multi-family residential. The space also supports large capacity overhead electrical transmission line sand towers within an easement, limiting uses and structures below.

Recently, the site has been utilized for ad hoc, temporary activities ranging from local youth commandeering the abandoned lot to create an ephemeral skate park with ramps and jumps from found objects to more organized activities and events. “Containers Up” was an experimental event that used large, re-purposed and renovated steel shipping containers and arranged them into a loosely organized complex to provide temporary food and beverage sales on site.

Saiki Design was retained to gather input and complete a concept master plan for the site. Over 500 individual responses were received from an online public survey, the majority of which were from local high school students. Building upon this input and the unique site, the plan creates a linear park with recreation and activity spaces. It re-aligns Oak Leaf Trail, connects to neighborhoods and develops a system of interior walkways. Use sand structures comply with the restrictions of the utility easement and create a logical and graceful flow to the space. The wide diversity of spaces supports and encourages multi-generational use while supporting facilities, parking and a public restroom and shelter complete a concept that can live up to the project name and its aspirations.

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