Okdraw Studio

The Set is a historically Black, 1,000-acre community in the heart of Delray Beach, Fla. In 1935, it was designated as the “Negro Area or Settlement” in the adopted Resolution #146-35 by Delray Beach’s City Council. Today, The Set remains home to the majority of Delray’s Black population—one-fifth of Delray’s overall population of 65,000 people.

The Coalition, a collective of Black church leaders from The Set, has joined forces with Miami-based designer Germane Barnes on the Regenerating Roots Project. This project is defined by two pillar structures: The Market and The Hall. Historically, The Set community has played a significant role in fighting systems and institutions oppressing Black people and neighborhoods. While doing so, The Set emerged as a self-reliant community led by pioneers of color. Regenerating Roots shifts the narrative of this community from one of vulnerability and charity to one of power and authenticity. Together, Regenerating Roots acknowledges the impact of systemic racism and supports the revival of a historically Black community.

A large, open-air structure, approximately 20,000 square feet in area, The Market will not only pay homage to the Bahamian roots of this congregation but also activate a vacant parcel that currently contributes to neighborhood blight. Additionally, the project will serve as a venue to showcase The Set community’s cottage industries, such as food, entertainment, and beauty products.

Also located in The Set, St. Matthew Episocopal church owns a parish hall that will be upgraded and renovated. Aiming to preserve a beloved and important venue in the community—and give residents access to a space and place that is not threatened with demolition—the 3,000-square-foot Parish Hall will be renovated as a commercial kitchen and event space that contributes to the collective power-building efforts of its residents.

Lead Designer: Germane Barnes, Studio Barnes
Design Team: Andrea Martinez, Noelle Davis, Kevan Washington, George Elliott, Isabella Adelsohn, Kristyn Cox, and Sara Selznick

This article first appeared in the October 2023 issue of ARCHITECT, which was guest edited and designed by Dark Matter U.