Tuesday, March 13, 2007

new beginnings


My wife has started a daily photo blog, partially to work on her craft but primarily just as a daily record. Inspired (and threatened) by her daily output, I am now vowing to produce some tangible output every single day, perhaps with some lamely excused exceptions. For instance, I thought up this post yesterday.


Without further notice, a new post-- a possible introduction to the soon-to-be- Urban Ecologies website, compliments of the Rice Design Alliance.


While the idea of "mass customization" has saturated industrial and product design, and is increasingly present in architectural treatises, it is surprising that this particular synthesis of sustainability, technology, and advanced capitalism has not been applied to urban design. When combined with a community-based design (a process that has been utilized from IDEO to Teddy Cruz), it acts as a catalyst, matching and responding to the critiques of the users/citizens/populace. By taking easily produced materials, forms, and programming and adjusting them to a specific existing condition, they begin to take on another level of meaning. Their activiation by the surrounding community enhances the overall quality of the space, and gives the area a cultural meaning that it had not possessed before. In other words, a park cannot act as all things to everyone, but it can be many things to a pretty big crowd.

The following pages will track the process of projective urbanism from creation to application. The first stage adopts multiple existing infrastructures and dissects into their basic parts. It divides their existing conditions from the strategies applied by individuals and communities, in order to evaluate each case study as a whole. These conditions and strategies are then codified and organized into a non-hierarchical set of ideas and rules to drive the development of our assigned site forward.

The strategies abstracted by the previous exercise are then applied to a chosen local context. Under a new set of surrounding influences, these ideas and rules can begin to bring a new meaning to the site. By combining and blending these strategies into new hybrid forms, we can begin to project new programming onto the site. With simple gestures this area can have a radical transformation into a functional urban space.

The site chosen, the Pierce elevated, is situated with in a pivotal section of the Houston urban landscape. The elevated freeway occupies the northern half of multiple city blocks along Pierce Street. The Pierce Street, below, shadows the freeway above, and intensifies the boundary created between downtown and midtown. The freeway now acts as a roof over a desolate expanse of parking. Frequently inhabited and abandoned by transients, the area underneath the freeway has no purpose, and acts only as a barrier between two neighborhoods.

[There is supposed to be an ending to this. I am sure it will come later.]

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

what luck! I infrequently check your blog for updates, and lo, here I arrive shortly after this post which suggests I might need to check back more frequently than I had been. I hope it's true and I look forward to this new website.