“The impacts of urban planning decisions are usually not detectable after decades of implementation. This studio investigated the option of instant gratification. Capping a freeway or similar infrastructural areas ends up being faster and more effective than the tedious and long process of modifying zoning rules. The purpose of this research is to investigate the interfaces between urban infrastructure and the potential use of its adjacent space. The attempt is to create a synergy capable of attracting architectural and programmatic diversity of components. Metropolitan development has been very often associated with a tranquil and regular path of time, with a constant growth speed. And for a long time it has been: growth has followed a regular motion: predictable, quantifiable. But today one can question this slow motion path. Development is expanding rapidly in an unpredictable manner, out of sync with traditional human settlement patterns. Space is, and will even more undeniably become the most precious commodity of urban development. Compactness as well as multi-use capacities has been improving urban life from the very beginning of human settlements. One can appreciate the richness and diversity that mixed-uses spaces as well as densely organized spaces can provide. One can experience that in Asia or in Europe and somehow in New York or Chicago or San Francisco, where different layers of urban history have been creating the sediments of urbanity. Conversely, space is wasted in L.A. in ways literally inconceivable in other urban contexts. A very low density and a very mono-programmatic organization of space implies that we are spending so much of our time in cars to go from A to B when actually A could be on top or nearby B.
Consequently the footprint of our infrastructural system is enormous and continuously growing up, like a bodybuilder on steroids. One can assume that radical zoning rules will become reality and will affect Los Angeles and on a very long term will improve the sprawl situation. One can imagine the changes of zoning rules will happen first wherever the light rail lines and other public transportation means are created and expanded. But that will take an enormous amount of time—a matter of more than one generation. In the same way we can somehow consider that Paris is still trying to improve its Haussmanian urban plan, the same for Cerda’s plan in Barcelona.
For these reasons this studio investigates “immediate urban gratification”: fast and now, working on the containment of infrastructural impact, or even better, on flipping the infrastructural impacts of the city as a positive option.” ~ Olivier Touraine
Status: School Project
Location: Santa Monica, CA, US