Advanced Design Studio: Aureli
Immigrants - both documented and undocumented - operate from a cultural, economic or legal periphery from which they cannot take access to urban and natural resources for granted. As it stands, documented immigrants lucky enough to be offered housing are usually placed in unsuitable converted apartment buildings that hide them from the city. Meanwhile, undocumented workers are an unrecognized but hugely significant part of our labor force. Our project, then, is to design a new housing typology that, through land access and opportunities for self-sufficiency, addresses issues of integration and visibility. We seek to make the immigrant community and their productive labor visible within the city, and to create a third condition between exception and assimilation (the usual choices offered to new arrivals), one in which the migrant is granted both a right to be a stranger and the right to place and home.
The scheme consists of a sequence of bands, comprising residential bars (formed from a repeated module of 30 private cells sharing generous communal kitchens and two courtyards for outdoor living and working), labor bars (equipped for agricultural production and storage), kitchen gardens, farmland, and un-programmed open spaces that allow for the activities of the informal economy. All these spaces are connected by a central spine, planted with live oaks, creating a space of non-vehicular circulation shaded from the Texas sun. The spine is lined with market stalls where the produce of the land and the products of the informal economy can be sold to the city. In this way our project opens up access to the city, subverting the prevalent spatial structure of Houston, the isolated subdivision, and making visible the labor of an otherwise invisible population.
In the unstructured space of the Piazza de Termini, the library operates as a territorial stitch between the two potent objects of the site: the Baths of Diocletian and Termini Station. This new urban void enclosed by the incomplete frame of the library negotiates this restructuring of the site, producing a network of figured voids now oriented around the object of the Baths and aligned to its original axes.
The spatial logic of the library belongs to both objects and thus flaunts its duplicity, oscillating between a state of belonging to and subversion of its urban context. What results is a schizophrenic landscape twisted between two constructs of space: the bath’s aggregated logic of spatial modules and the homogenous linear expanse of the train station. The northern bar of the library resurrects the former frame of Diocletian, occupying the space of the bath’s original outer wall. The eastern and western bars of the library repeat the framing logic of Termini, however reoriented to the baths and obscured by the homogenous infill of context. The bars of the library thus carve and are carved by the context, contaminated by their own terms of spatial negotiation.
Coney Islands takes as its starting point the rise of sea levels along the global coast. The project uses Coney Island as a testing ground for social and spatial redefinition of community relationships through the form of the connected islands. The project fully integrates physical and social infrastructure into one connective system that gives the Coney Island community a high level of resilience.
Existing tall residential towers are viewed as the most resilient physical construction, so the clusters they form become the framework for land salvaged from the water rise. A dynamic, inhabited wall is created between the existing towers in order to house social and physical infrastructure necessary for the community's resilience. The wall branches off into a self-sufficient, connective system for the new islands. A turbine field harnesses energy, constructed wetlands with biking & pedestrian paths allow physical connection and mitigate wave action, trains and ferries connect to the larger metropolitan area, and the parts of the wall filters and stores stormwater. Additionally, the free space within the wall's boundary becomes a new urban type - a zone of democratic contestation in which the island residents and those from islands nearby use the space through a process of petition and election.