Grounds for Change: Activating Vacant Land

Ecological Reconfiguration


Tags: advocacy, agriculture, alternative, bicycle, cleaning, community, commute, corridor, ecology, energy, events, grid, grow, lots, lotsoflots, mobile, network, openspace, parks, Philadelphia, planting, play, power, renewable, streams, structure, temporary, transportation, trees, water

New transportation and open-space networks.

"The new Philadelphia will be built over itself by its citizens." This bold statement introduces Ecosistema Urbano's ambitions proposal for an Ecological Reconfiguration of Philadelphia and its urban voids. Three main strategies help structure the plan, which emphasizes citizen action in addition to policy and city planning work. Ecological Corridors connect high percentage urban-void areas with Center City, creating new transportation lines and commercial corridors that work with the existing network of green space. A series of low-budget interventions on the selected streets would help kick-start the ecological corridors network. These include:

  1. Bicycle lanes separated from car traffic by "tree lanes"
  2. Reconstitution of buried urban streams
  3. Basic cleaning of available urban lots

New Ecological Mobility capitalizes on Philadelphia's extensive network of bicycle commuters and enthusiasts as advocates of alternative means of transportation. The proposed streetscape would also include bicycle lanes providing transversal connections between Corridors.

Ecosistema Urbano envision Urban Catalysts as the dynamic foci of this re-imagined Philadelphia, as inspired by community response to Philadelphia Land Visions. Catalysts are highly adaptable multi-story structures designed to house a range of amenities and activities. They form the nodes of the Ecological Corridors and will be located in areas of especially high vacancy percentage that nonetheless fall within walking or biking distance of residential areas. Urban Catalysts would house renewable energy generators in addition to new community spaces. Energy generated by the Urban Catalysts may be tapped for specific activities--agricultural production, new building, theatrical productions--or simply channeled back into the main power grid. Once a Catalyst has served its purpose in a given area, it may be dismantled, reconfigured, and established in a new focus area, catalyzing the cycle of renewal once again.