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Thunderbird Dorms: The Art and Science of Living Well, Together

By Rachel Davey

Work on the Thunderbird dorms has been underway for a month now, and we are all very excited at the progress made and the opportunities this new style of accommodation will offer. Recently, we identified ‘the art and science of living well, together’ as part of the essence of programs at The Haven. As we get further into the Thunderbird dorm project, it’s becoming clear that this also encapsulates the essence of what the dorms will be.

This project looks both to the past and the future. It has always been a feature of Haven programs to share accommodation space with others. This was more common in the past than now, and we still have a significant number of participants who share a room with someone they have never met before. We know that lifelong friendships have sometimes been the result, and sharing has always been a great opportunity to practice the Communication Model, if nothing else! For David Beckwermert, who donated the funds to create the dorms, his experience of having to share a room was an unforgettable (and not entirely comfortable!) experience, rich with learning. Whereas Haven rooms have to date allowed two or three people to share, the dorms will hold up to six people in one space.

The future aspect of the dorms is the focus on micro living, making the most of a small space. A great deal of thought has gone into making the space comfortable and as private as possible. We can’t control the human beings involved of course, but we can consider issues such as heating, light, noise, storage and privacy and how that might support the idea of living well together. Rather than building one huge dormitory, we have kept the idea of three separate spaces (formerly rooms 135, 136 and 137), each with their own washroom. Given the limited amount of space, we are also ensuring that shared spaces, like the Satir (TV) and Bugenthal (Games) rooms in the Orca building are fully equipped to be used more often than now.

The result will be a cozy and comfortable place to sleep, and an affordable accommodation option that we are fully expecting to become one of our most popular buildings to stay in. We look forward to welcoming our first guests at the end of June.

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