Sunday, November 8, 2009

Future of Cities Casis Entry 2007

DeGentrification + Densification + Synthesis

The question of urbanism is something which has been debated by architects, planners, politicians and the people since the modern city emerged. One of the most important things urbanism can accomplish is creating contextually and sociologically, a cityscape where people become part of a greater community. Since the inception of specific theories of urbanism, there has been a great evolution of what a specific theory entails. The theory for this project is a approach laid out according to an underlying stepped process that, if accomplished, can turn the modern city-scape into a successful collection of cohesive urban public/private space. Ultimately, the goal of a project like this is to work within a delicate historical, socio-economic, and political context to achieve a response that is viable for the future and considers an ethical approach to reach that future.

The three driving processes of this project are DeGentrification, Densification, and Synthesis of the two. This establishes goals that are part of specific steps within a timeline. This is where the concept for the PHASE is explored. The Phase is then created to establish a real timeframe for that process to take place. Within that phase many facets of that step are explored and addressed, ultimately.

Liberty City lies on the West border of Metropolitan Miami. The Greater Miami Area is not dense in the traditional sense, primarily due to the fact that since Miami’s inception at the beginning of the 20th Century, the automobile has always reigned supreme, thereby negating pedestrian oriented communities. Instead of the city expanding upward, it expanded outward, putting increasing pressure on the economy as well as the ecosystem.

Within the past decade Miami has seen a resurgence in the real estate economy stimulating unregulated construction and endless suburban sprawl. This has put increasing pressure on communities in urban areas who face the threat of being displaced due to the value of their land. Furthermore, funding of broader general social services has steadily decreased in the past couple decades, specifically funding for housing assistance programs. As public housing complexes fall into decline because decrease in funding, the Department of Housing & Urban Development sees this as an opportunity to tear down high-density housing in favor of lower density that would push working class families further away from the city.

Geographically, Liberty City lies well in reach of ‘Downtown’ Miami, but rather than elaborating on the model of neighborhood clusters revolving around one central business district,“DeGentrification + Densification” addresses urban growth through creating a semi-autonomous community that can sustain itself through building.

Low Density

Infill Housing: negotiates the low-density context and the eminent future densification. The focus area for the low-density intervention is the ‘semi-urbanized’ area of Liberty City. The housing units are Stackable Modules that can accommodate growth while maintaining
sensitivity to the contextual scale.

Green Canopies: create a visual connection with the rest of the development through providing the existing context with a usable design aesthetic. The canopies provide the existing public nodes with shade as well as solar power through panels located on top of the canopy.

Public/Agriculture/Horticulture Typology: synthesis between several different necessary factors of Liberty City’s future. By fusing the spaces of several different functions, a new contextual identity is created. Many of the larger open pieces of land will be converted, thus creating much needed public and green space while providing a new urban agricultural economy.

Medium Density

The site of the new Umoja village is one with a great history backing its design. The space in the heart of Liberty City once housed 50 homeless individuals and families living in SHANTYS made up of wood and cardboard. These people created a self-sustaining community that connected with the greater community of Liberty City.

Umoja Village, Supportive housing and Social Services: The social services provided, will be housed within the first three floors of the space. On top of this, the housing element and elevated community space would overtake any individual walking down the street. The supportive housing, in this case, is something that the city has been trying to undermine due to the highly political battle versus the UMOJA village residents.

Infill Office/Commercial Space: Provides much needed community owned business and office space. These would be infill projects based on the existing brownfields within the existing context. The lower levels would consist of commercial space for the community, and the upper levels would consist work space, consisting of offices and small industry.


Superimposition of Public/Private spaces based on traces and projections

The culmination of this project comes in the form of a highly developed section of land within Liberty City that was once called the Scotts Carver Housing project. Through the advent of US housing and urban development, the once medium density community that housed over 850 families and units, was demolished under the premise that they would rebuild. The HOPE VI program promised to rebuild those units 1 to 1 for all displaced residents. It has been seven years and only 10 “Habitat for Humanity” houses have been built and the city and local politicians have called this a success. This is definitely NOT the case.

The First step of this density was to develop a method of creation, based on a superimposed grid stemming from current site conditions. These PROJECTIONS and TRACES act as a framework for design theory and mode for production.

The first phase of this development deals with providing the residents of Liberty City with a place to learn and work, therefore we provide vocational learning centers and several industry, office, and commerce jobs on the first three floors of the development.

Those first thirty feet of vertical program create a base for the overlay of green spaces and park facilities to be provided.

The final part of this Phase is the high density housing typology we call the Perforated Grid. This literal perforated grid structure acts as a basic premise for the advent of housing. It creates a basic frame that can be modified to suit any possible variation within its 30'x30' base plan.


This typology of green space creates a sense of community and positive use of public space, since just over 14% of the total square footage of the city should be allocated for green and public space.

The hope of this project is to establish COMMUNITY in the real sense of the word. Urbanism has taken several turns for the worst in the last couple decades. Some have argued that the low density is needed to combat suburban sprawl, but this could not be farther from the truth. The very real problem still exists, in which the human race is growing at a faster rate than ever before.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009