Grounds for Change: Activating Vacant Land

Horizontal Integration


Tags: grow, lots, lotsoflots, philadelphia, phyto-remediation, planting, soil

A public park and soil farm constructed from Delaware River dredge material.

The Northern Shipping site is an abandoned tract of land in the Tacony neighborhood of Philadelphia. The Delaware River-front site was once home to the Northern Shipping company. This project builds on the existing shipping infrastructure, activating the site by receiving, storing and composting dredge material from the river. The dredged material is used to reconstruct the site and provide a rich environment for new plantings. Covering the site at a one foot depth would account for nearly a years worth of dredged soil from the river.

Soil is received at the dock from hopper dredges and placed into composting rows. Composting helps clean the soil and prepare it for the site. A wetland below the composting operation cleans any runoff from the process and provides new ecological and social habitat. Once the soil has been composted, it is spread over the site and further remediated through a strategic planting cycle. The cleaned soil is then used to create a new topography for the park and as a basis for rich and varied ecotones, from wetland to upland forest.

As the land is revitalized and recovered, the infrastructure built for constructing the site is modified to become the circulation system for a new park. The topography, planting, and circulation evolves over time as the operational processes are replaced by public program. Once the park has been constructed, soil is shipped from the site to reconstruct other derelict land within the city: a source for fill soil, or richer soils for urban agriculture. The park is a prototype of a system that could be deployed to the many other vacant shipping parcels along the Delaware River.

The Designers