Almost Classicism (The Village)
My project is an industrial agricultural co-op in Coin, a town of 200 residents in Page County Iowa. The co-op is an iteration designed to fit within a system of co-ops that operate at the scale of the township to formalize existing traces of communal land and machine use and make agricultural spaces more accessible for future generations.
My project takes on the basic program of a co-op, including the machinery storage and silos, yet also positions itself as the communal and commercial center of Coin and the surrounding area. The co-op must negotiate two scales: the agricultural machines, ever increasing in size, and the scale of the town and humans. The project negotiates this challenge through assuming a large footprint with a lightweight form and two facades, giving equal weight to both human and machine program. The two facades reflect its dual nature, facing outwards to the industrial fields and inwards to the town.
Advanced Design Studio: Bilbao
The Mexican community of Villas Otoch has a high rate of abandonment due to the transitory nature of many migrant workers seeking wage labor in the tourism industry of Cancun. Many of the migrants are from indigenous communities, and their traditional community practices are hindered by the monotonous housing stock with poor ventilation and little communal outdoor space. We are proposing an indigenous university that will provide more localized employment opportunities while also empowering residents with a means to pass on and sustain traditional knowledge in an urban setting. This new university type would enable education practices to blend with home life and be distributed throughout the neighborhood at the scale of a room. The university includes prototypes for housing that renovate the existing structures to double the amount of shaded outdoor space while still maintaining approximately the same density. University incubators, also designed to plug into the existing fabric, will create sorely needed community gathering spaces as well as accommodate the programs of the five schools proposed: Culinary Arts, Agriculture, Education, Entrepreneurship, and Arts and Crafts. Both the housing and university prototypes will encourage residents to build on the second floor, opening up additional communal, shaded living spaces on the ground level. The new buildings use readily available local materials and construction methods in innovative ways. For example, screen walls constructed of concrete block will allow for ventilation while also creating visual place-markers and a sense of identity among the otherwise ubiquitous concrete block buildings. A pedestrian network made of porous pavers will also contribute to identity and way-finding, while additionally alleviating storm water issues. The university components and associated housing will be built first, and then the existing fabric is expected to incrementally morph over time.
Ruins: The Architecture of Selective Memory
Ruins play a crucial role in the development of cultural identity and narrative. When ruins are preserved, they act as architectural historical records. When ruins are destroyed, the cultural diversity and historical narratives they record are destroyed alongside them. While the aesthetic appreciation of American ruins is visible in the profusion of websites, publications, and exhibitions dedicated to photographing Detroit and other cities, the social and spatial implications of the destruction or preservation of these ruins requires further exploration.
Though the history of settlement in contemporary America extends as far back as that of other nations, there has been relatively little study of the ruins resulting from the decline of its ancient settlements. The ruins of early indigenous populations of the United States such as those found at Mesa Verde or Cahokia are few in number when compared to the vast number of ruins found in other countries. Through case studies in Turkey, Greece, Italy, Cambodia, and America, my independent study aims to put American ruins in a larger global context with a longer history of appreciation and preservation of ruins.
Infill City: Mumbai
Mumbai is a city without a comprehensive plan; rather it has two narratives of development. One narrative is a story of informal development, beginning with small fishing villages and transforming into today’s informal settlements. The second narrative is that of formal development, often led by Western forces, which has spread across the city.
Informal communities filled the interstitial spaces, growing between the railway tracks and factories and along the wetlands areas that are most difficult to build upon. As Indian cities have grown, informal housing communities or slums have proliferated to meet the needs of rural migrants. Self-built communities in India are effective because they grant low-income individuals admittance into a larger economy by offering affordable housing in close proximity to income sources. Meanwhile, the formal development of Mumbai has transformed the ocean and wetlands to asphalt and concrete. This development has also led to the creation of massive infrastructures: ports and train stations, roads and parkways, hotels and monuments. However, contemporary Mumbai has expanded to such physical limits that these two narratives can no longer comfortably coexist.
Dharavi exemplifies this new tension in Mumbai. Beginning centuries ago as a fishing village between two of Mumbai’s seven islands, this informal settlement has developed into one of Mumbai’s largest slums. Until recently, this informal community was largely ignored by the rest of city. However, the new Bandra Kurla Complex directly north of Dharavi and the growth of the city into the northern suburbs has thrown the community’s existence into imminent danger.
Out of the many redevelopment proposals, HOK’s plan is the only proposal with an attempted sensitivity to the existing community. Dharavi Evolution tries to address some of the concerns of redevelopment by proposing smaller parcels, maintaining the current street grid, and pushing the high-rise residential superblocks to the periphery of the redevelopment, allowing for high-density, low-rise housing in the ‘Village Heart’. Ideally, this housing provides a reasonable solution to the health and safety issues of Dharavi by providing infrastructure and relocating dangerous industries to the outskirts. However, the plan still essentially razes the entire settlement to be rebuilt incrementally. Though the high-rise residential areas maintain the best locations adjacent to nodes of transportation and desirable views, one could question whether this type of development at the edge of Dharavi would really be effective. One could question whether the high rise residential and commercial centers on the periphery Dharavi Evolution could be financially successful enough to support a low rise center without completely removing Dharavi itself. HOK states that their proposal is contextual; however, what does it mean to be contextual in Mumbai? While the cast system has been outlawed in India, there are still strong cultural stigmas associated with Dharavi. Would anyone actually want to move to Dharavi unless it is completely removed and replaced? There are strong cultural enclaves existing in Dharavi. Even if the streets are preserved will all the inhabitants be able to return or will this disrupt the social structure of this place permanently? If one wants to preserve the existing ecology of Dharavi, how would one transition from informal to a formal economy? Many of the people living in Dharavi also work from their homes. An informal economy handles all real estate and other transactions. Though HOK’s diagrams hint at interacting with the existing community, they fail to specifically define the process of redevelopment. It is unclear who will actually be redeveloping this land in the future. Without revolutionary care in the transition between the existing and proposed development, it is most likely that the residents will be largely displaced as is often the case in this scale of redevelopment. How will this transformation take place without destroying the sense of place? Our project explores this disparity between the ideals of Dharavi Evolution and the realities facing Mumbai.