Architecture of Exchange
by Blake Fisher
This model depicts an “infill” of the St Claude and Elysian Fields Ave area. Chipboard replicas represent existing structures; the clear plasticore buildings represent proposed strictures.
The argument of a decreased city footprint for the City of new Orleans is still lurking beneath the surface of conversation of reconstruction. The suppression of this topic is caused by fear of political unpopularity, and must cease to exist in this fashion. Architecture must take the lead in offering solutions for repopulation through strategic redensification.
To this end, the study of symbiotic relationships of natural organisms will lead to a new realization of strategies for appropriating space in an urban setting. This analysis will direct an investigation to find greater opportunities for increased density housing and neighborhood amenities without wholesale demolition, but rather through opportunistic occupation of space in the city, creating a sustainable neighborhood model for the future anticipation of New Orleans.
The footprint debate
“The city, even three years out, will have lost 50% of its population, and given the general assumption of uncertainty, the city realistically can neither rebuild infrastructure nor resume services at pre-Katrina Levels…contraction can provide an opportunity to radically transform and improve an urban system…” – – -thom mayne, morphosis proposal
(1) abandon low lying areas
(2) revitalize and restore existing housing on high ground
(3) specified high density development along waterways and highways
(4) new city hall district as cultural precinct
Potential advantages of a reduced footprint city:
Less strain on services, utilities, and taxpayers
Automobile reliance is less
A move back towards a more socially and racially integrated Cityscape
Opportunities inherent in a reduced footprint city
Opportunity to inventively use and re-use space -underutilized and forgotten spaces become possibilities for appropriation
New Orleans has an already established historical framework for dense neighborhood groupings This historical density framework can be retrofitted To accommodate a greater influx of people, the historical fabric need not be demolished, but rather updated for a greater utilization of space
Potential disadvantages with a reduced footprint city
Argument of overcrowding: “nimbyism” attitude -parking congestion, building densities too high, less private space, etc.
Unwillingness to relinquish parcels of property to accommodate Influx of people
Introduction of the new upon the historical fabric may cause extreme reservation
Lingering notions of segregation: keeping some groups of people from returning to the city
The reliance upon established urban patterns -existing amenities -high ground ridge occupation
Desires driving the proposal:
(1) repopulate the high ground ridges
(2) accommodate the peak 1960s population of 627,525 within the reduced footprint
(3) maintain the historical character of the New Orleans neighborhood fabric
Photos by Blake Fisher