Grounds for Change: Activating Vacant Land

Urban (em)power Boosters


Tags: architecture, booster, building, energy, garden, generator, grid, kiosk, kit, lots, modular, network, Philadelphia, play, power, recreation, renewable, structure, surface, workstation

Combine flexible surfaces with utility lines for instant activity niches.

This proposal deploys a network of performative surfaces, called (em)POWER BOOSTERS, that are activated by program and powered by natural resources. REGIONAL STRATEGY The network is distributed at a regional scale, connecting Philadelphia’s City Parks much like Boston’s “Emerald Necklace.” The newest link here is not a traditional park, but a zone that anticipates a lower-density future in which the public realm is a mutable nexus of inhabitable surfaces activated by programs to serve the collective good, and are self-sustained with a new ecologically-driven energy infrastructure. Today’s energy infrastructures are distributed generically; power is both centralized and over-generated, regardless of need. The BOOSTER network is decentralized and distributed according to energy use and needs. The power boosters can also feed surplus power back into the grid. SITING STRATEGY A matrix catalogs the site types, while an abandoned “shell” stands adjacent to each. Together these are the sites of intervention. The POWER BOOSTERS are sited no more than ¼ mile apart, a typical walking distance, and of visual connection. Parks and other public spaces are also added to the network as potential sites because they are agents of social change by allowing constituents to gather. ADAPTABLE BOOSTER TECTONIC The smallest booster units are 2x4s assembled in 12x24 foot modules. Circuits are hreaded through a spine and connect to solar cells or gray water collectors. The modules are configurable to differing site and program types. MATERIALITY AND ICONOGRAPHY Wood 2x4s are rapidly renewable, readily available and affordable. Wood’s “warmth” makes it a suitable interface with the human body. Its iconography also provides a symbolic connection between neighborhoods. PROGRAM The POWER BOOSTERS effect positive change, by enabling communities to gather in social/recreational, cultural, educational and political contexts, and provide a public safety or neighborhood-watch function.