This project sets out a hypothesis for post industrial urbanism through an analogy(i.e. cleaning dirty water = regeneration), where context is not focused on the geographical orientation of a particular site (here Brickbottom, Boston), but the phenomenon of ex-industrial land at a given time – 2007. Where such contexts suffer from identical symptoms in numerous geographical locations
ANALOGY 1 – THE REVERSED RIVER VALLEY
Where surrounding infrastructures once the arties injecting nutrients have flipped and transformed into a pair of strangling arms, as time pass they become increasingly inward looking and strangled as their contribution to the community depreciate.
They are the hang over of the advancement in a place, as the economy of a place matures these sites become the headache of the city, where a default attitude of repair and replace kicks in as the painkiller.
Their internal or adjacent infrastructure, in a most case elevated (here the elevated motorway) marks one vertical threshold; contamination goes deep below ground level marks the other threshold. Hence although physically they appear to be flat in nature, intrinsically the above thresholds created a 3 dimensional void where designers can exploit to maximise their aspirations.
In the first analogy, the elevated motorway is interpreted as a reversed river valley landscape, the steep nature of the embankments prohibit habitats to nourish; the industrial heritage is interpreted as a barren landscape with rich geological content, but poor topographical condition without the blessing of water from the harsh valley landform
To unlock the full potential of the barren landscape, landform is being modified to take full advantage of the river valley to create a number of habitat scenarios, density and scale of habitat can be adjusted in accords to the landform character.
ANALOGY 2 – AFTERLIFE
These sites have always had the character of producing and this character should be retained, but the nature of production changes as the nature of its surrounding infrastructure flipped. What they previously were catered for, a purpose to produce and supported by the adjacent infrastructure as arteries to feed to the outside world. Now as the arteries reversed its character into strangling ropes, in order accommodate and accept this new scenario, its production nature should also make a sharp U turn from feeding external to feed internally, a metaphor of an organism to adapt with the harsh environment and turn it into part of its very own system.
Here at Brickbottom, water is taken as a symbol from the historical context and recycled in a manner that ties into the urban form, the vision for the water filtration plant to get ripped open as part of the new landscape to foster future development, exposing the process of purification through water cascades to drive the regeneration of a place, projecting an opposition to how industrial plant is perceived in the old ways and instigate an after live to the site.
Landscape is re-modified to absorb the existing infrastructure, where architecture is grown as trees (but reversed against gravity) and human is the interface between the two as nutrients that runs through roots and into the branches. The scheme also suggests a groundscraping character of built form with compact spatial relationships to provoke interactions.
Dense clusters are created at the ex-contaminated spots, were now these spots mark the highest topographical level of the site, water towers and cascades running down the new skin of the site. The interface between landscape, infrastructure and built form creates public spaces that interlock firmly with the entire scheme.
Project Re wishes to leave a legacy of the industrial essence in a poetic manner, in parallel with fostering sustainable community in a long run, a class of interaction and appreciation. Or else the term post industrial will be replaced by ad hoc manner with politically correct solutions, creates cheap industrial memories and legacy.
GROUNDWORK TEAM Stephen Suen, Manfred Yuen
LOCATION Brickbottom, Boston, USA
COMPETITION ORGANIZER Boston Municipality