Grounds for Change: Activating Vacant Land



Tags: agriculture, biotechnology, corridors, energy, experiment, greenhouse, grow, habitat, hydroponics, industry, landscape, Philadelphia, planting, production, research, technology, water

Integrating biotechnology and the urban fabric.

Biodelphia explores how Philadelphia's urban landscape might change as the city's economy shifts from a manufacturing paradigm to an epicenter of biotechnology research and development. How can new plant technologies like transplanting, hybrids, and transgenics (genetically modified organisms) turn vacant lots into productive landscapes? One of Biodelphia's primary inspirations is the buried landscape of pre-colonial Philadelphia, described here as trails, creeks, and grounds. As part of the new biotech landscape, trails become corridors of green space; buried creeks are uncovered and used to provide water and energy for agricultural production; and grounds, the gathering spaces of old, take on new life as parks, fields, and experimental open spaces. Above all, the designers emphasize the flexibility of boundaries in Biodelphia. It is important, here, that open spaces fulfill more than one function, that they respond to their contexts, and that they change over time. Spaces should not be compartmentalized physically, structurally, or by function. Biodelphia is a complex plan; its goal is nothing less than new neighborhood configurations and landscapes that benefit Philadelphia socially, ecologically, and economically.