• Land vacancy and excessive impervious surfaces are viewed as opportunities in the creation of new urban watersheds and vital city places.  The 'urban voids' are essential as green filters for naturally cleaning locally collected stormwater runoff for safe re-use, play, redirection and infiltration.  City transit systems -- roadways, rail beds -- serve as 'overlayment' for underground gravel cisterns and byways for new urban streams and recreational trails, providing Philadelphia with green space and activated, delightful, and surprising WATERWORK.
    • <p>Philadelphia's urban voids are characterized by a lack of defined use and identity of place.  Physical enhancement and defining place within the current areas of high property abandonment could lead to economic development of these spaces.</p>The transformation of many of the city's streams into combined sewer culverts during the 19th and early 20th centuries deprived Philadelphia of critical place-defining water landmarks.  Philadelphia's urban streams can be revived and expanded to form the backbone of newly revitalized communities and to activate areas of urban void.<p><p>As a new watershed traverses a vacant space, it flows through a series of water-bearing containers and filters, activating bioremediation processes that clean the land, making it viable for future human uses.  The points at which a new watershed intersects that existing public transportation system and parks network become locations for reactivation of the space and becomes a desirable center for economic redevelopment of the surrounding catchment.   They address ecological, aesthetic, commercial, and societal concerns, as they can become the centers for nascent communities.

    Urban Voids: Grounds for Change

    First Place entry in 2-phase international vacant land COMPETITION sponsored by Philadelphia City Parks Association and the Van Alen Institute of New York, The WATERWORK project lays the groundwork for subsequent collaboration with Drexel University for the Philadelphia Water Department and the EPA-mandated stormwater management Green City Clean Waters initiative.

    CLCMA: Charles Loomis, Chariss McAfee
    Juliet Geldi
    Gavin Riggall

    URBAN VOIDS: grounds for change
    What does a city do to respond to its vacancy crisis? What could Philadelphia imagine for its future, what ideas might be generated if we looked at the 40,000 vacant properties counted (thus far) as assets, not as liabilities? How might the repurposing of this land inform new ways of living in the urban environment?

    Featuring essays by key participants and an illustrated finalist gallery, URBAN VOIDS: grounds for change explores the innovative community engagement process and international ideas competition that challenged residents and designers to imagine a sustainable reuse of the vacant land in Philadelphia.

    Price: $15.95 (PLUS S&H)

    Panel Discussion
    29 October 2010
    Urban Voids: Grounds for Change

    Glen J. Abrams, Philadelphia Water Department Watersheds Planning Manager
    Ray Gastil, Gastilworks Planning & Design
    Deenah Loeb, Executive Director, Philadelphia City Parks Association
    Charles Loomis, Chariss McAfee, Charles Loomis Chariss McAfee Architects
    PORT Architecture + Urbanism, Chris Marcinkowski
    Inga Saffron, Philadephia Inquirer
    Harris M. Steinberg, PennPraxis

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