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Masters thesis – PROtotype

June 2, 2011

PROTOTYPE

 The contemporary urban landscape is one that is made up of a patchwork of different moments in time, cultures, natural phenomena, etc.  All of these moments combine to create space with individual identities that can be successful, but many times can fall short of what it is capable of.  Over time ultimate goals for development get lost and short term, low budget solutions are implemented, zoning is changed, development procedures and technologies alter these goals, space is altered depending on changes in use and populations, etc.  Because of this loss or lack of a comprehensive solution many sites are lost in this urban fabric.  The question is:

How can this urban landscape be a more productive system that both processes community excess and provides for community needs? 

 Productivity could be defined as a level of satisfaction gained from a given amount of cost and time expended (the higher the productivity level the larger the amount of satisfaction is gained by the least amount of cost and time expended).  The goal of this project is to create productive environments that have reciprocal relationships to their enveloping communities.  What started as an investigation into how to help the homeless (creating a productive environment through the participation of the surrounding communities) has turned into a system of programs that is not only socially productive, but economically, programmatically and materially

  • Social Productivity:  is accomplished by opening up previously unused space and creating amenities in these spaces for the public to use.  Social productivity is also accomplished by creating collective situations within the site, that organizes people to work toward a common goal which is critical for societies to prosper economically and have that prosperity be sustainable.
  • Economic Productivity:  sites provide temporary employment opportunities to in need individuals, compensation to volunteers, assistance to providers and would combine to eventually lead to a becoming a profitable network.
  • Programmatic Productivity:  on an urban level the program acts like a constant feedback loop exchanging products, knowledge, and opportunities between sites as well as transforming input from external sources into a salable output.  On a site specific level, the programs are designed to be consistently inhabited by allowing for flexibility in use.  Also, the program would be used as a sort of direct marketing device that would express the goals of the system through interesting installations and branding opportunities.
  • Material Productivity:  through the idea of upcycling, (the conversion of waste products and materials into new materials) waste would be given a higher value either by being implemented aesthetically (resuing the material in a way that is purely phenomenological) or functionally (reusing the material in a way that is purely for structural benefit)

   The specifics of how each site is to be organized and developed relies on the immediate environment they are located within.  The sites function is determined through researching adjacencies, community patterns and programmatic opportunities to develop a moment that can adapt and develop over the lifespan of the space.

Four prototypical sites were chosen throughout the city and developed based on the criteria above.  Four development strategies (urban kit of parts) were then applied to each site to create an overall cohesive approach throughout the system as a whole.  The main Northbeach site was developed more completely then the others because of its development as a ‘flagship’ for the entirety of the program (it was developed in this manner due to its opportunities for exposure and its access to multiple communities).  It contains an information gallery and a small scale representation of how the system, as a whole, functions – showing inputs and outputs, exchange of materials, and levels of production.  As a whole, prototype is a sustainable solution to creating a healthier urban environment. 

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