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Salvage the City: A 21st Century proposition to facilitate urban regeneration

Part 1 Project 2010
Jake Mullery
University for the Creative Arts Canterbury UK
An investigation into the New York Highline public park has highlighted the impending growth of the area and expected increase in consumption. The blocks surrounding Phase 1 of the Highline reconstruction have been in a state of flux for the last few years. The Highline has become a landmark, not only injecting life and greenery into the gritty urban grid, it has given local commerce a boost. This has inevitably attracted more people to move to the area and developers have capitalised on this, resulting in a vertical Cityscape of housing developments.

The site chosen for the proposal is situated alongside Phase 2 of the Highline Park, within the confines of a scrap yard. At this stage it became clear that a proposal for the site could respond to the imminent growth of the area and play an important role within the existing networks, facilitating the management of waste and recycling for the local community.

The focus of the research concentrated on a series of mappings of the local infrastructure and systems in relation to local food outlets and green spaces. It became apparent that the proposal should take advantage of the extensive green space provided by the Highline in some way and that there needs to be a formal dialogue between the Highline structure and the proposal itself.

This is where City Compost was conceived. The tower acts as a composting plant to reduce the reliance on landfill sites and most importantly, it is providing the vital ingredient needed for urban regeneration. The vertical composting units that hang within the tower, break-down local food scraps provided by the community as well as green waste from local parks. The City Compost tower enables the community of Chelsea to give something back to the highline and their efforts will result in revitalising and cultivating their surroundings.

The Tower itself is divided into 3 main volumes. The base acts as the composting facility, the middle is formed of an extraordinary public park that extends off of the highline and the final volume provides housing and a conference centre for visiting investors who wish to experience the process.

Jake Mullery

The project: ‘Foreign Body, nodal moments | fractured networks’ is located adjacent to the High Line in New York’s Meat Packing district (see: ) After a twenty-five year negotiation the first section of the High Line opened in 2009. This retention and restoration of an elevated railway to create a linear public space has been regarded as a triumph for the local communities but it now seems likely that it will act as a gentrification superhighway producing an inundation of dollars from the vast new financial district that is emerging at its northern end. Developer apartments and hotels threaten to engulf the extraordinarily diverse range of local activities: meatpacking, clubs, social housing and galleries that are currently in place. Students generated their own programmes to address this conflict of interests.

Jake’s proposal recognises that the reason for the current diversity in the area is the fundamental, raw, nature of the Meat Packing industry - which is now in decline. His proposal considers the industrial processes behind sustaining the artificial natural spaces of the city such as the high line; in effect a vast planter that requires support through feeding. Located above a working scrap yard the principal element of the project is a composting unit that processes waste material from all the urban parkland as well as from restaurants, hospitals and schools in the area. He proposes a network of such units across the city, re-confirming the origins of earth alongside its regular, sanitised, parkland presence. The highline is extended to spiral up around this composter terminating in an even more elevated and artificial public space. The complex above this space provides housing and conference facilities for visiting city officials considering similar schemes.

We nominated this project because of the clarity and relevance of the strategy in the city, the unusual industrial approach to the tower, the rigour of the technical resolution and the excellent visualisation of the project in the location.

Mr Oliver Froome-Lewis
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