The interchange of five major freeways has caused the East Los Angeles community of Boyle Heights to become the most polluted region in California. The people at risk for developing asthma and other diseases from the pollutants are children, especially during recess hours at schools adjacent to freeways. The EPA has suggested that students refrain from outdoor play to minimize the inhalation hazard that can cause as much as an 85% increase in asthma development.
My project challenges the EPA’s stance on the abstinence of play at Soto Elementary school by locating intensive play areas for the school children and the community next to the adjacent freeway, precisely where it is deemed unhealthy. The proposal introduces a series of “open-air play spaces” that improves the immediate atmosphere by the building and landscape acting as a barrier, channel or filter for the pollution. A land-based topography funnels wind and particulates through a system of channels around the play spaces. The buildings are strategically located to block the onslaught of direct W-SW wind and particulates onto the play space. Solar chimneys exhaust heated air at the top while drawing in and filtering air at the bottom from the building and the play spaces. The play spaces would have ionized scaffolding upon which certain plants could weave around, to attract the pollutants onto the scaffolding and away from the play areas below.
The introduction of play spaces for the community further challenges the EPA’s stance on schools near freeways be weaving the public through the campus. My goals is to liberate this campus by transforming it from an isolated, contained site into an area of shared use space where the public and adjacent schools can participate and enjoy the benefits of a healthy environment.
Status: School Project
Location: Boyle Heights, CA, US