denCITY: a modular village for the disPLACEd
Density and the Architecture of Exchange
Ecological Crossings in New Orleans
Expandable Prototypes for Public Schools in Post Katrina New Orleans:
          Cultural Complex Prototype:
          Who Gets To Call School Home?
Fail-safe Housing
Femanator: Can a Trailer Park Evolve?
Habitat Re-evolve
High Density Housing on the River Front
Lake Piers
The Levee
Liquid Urbanism: The New New Orleans
Local Green: Live Work Play
Lotus and the Rain
Modular Transitional Growth Housing
New Life on the River's Edge: Strategies for
          Reconnection + Reconstruction

New Orleans High Density Housing
Re-Building Wetlands
Resilient Topographies: Ascending Gardens
Resilient Topographies: Collected Roofs
Resilient Topographies: Deployable City
Resilient Topographies: Inhabitable Foundations
Resilient Topographies: New Orleans Trellis
Resilient Topographies: Temporal Towers
Site 3 F4: Chantily Drive Development
Site 6
    <prev  1  next>
title   Mc Graw-Hill Construction; Architectural Record Competition: "High Density on the High Ground"
New Life on the River's Edge: Strategies for Reconnection + Reconstruction
team   Judith Kinnard, FAIA, Kathleen Kambic, Ben Blanchard, Kenneth Schwartz, FAIA.
principal   Judith Kinnard, FAIA
date   Spring 2006
firm   CP+D (Charlottesville, VA)
subject   multiple-unit housing
site   Marigny, Bywater
The New Orleans high ground can become the location for vibrant, affordable, mixed-use and mixed-income housing. This scheme’s prototypical and multi-layered strategy promotes density and the productive friction of urban life. Diverse functions and housing options provide a new kind of urban synergy, while maintaining the characteristic graining of the city’s deep and narrow lot pattern. Generic “open space” is rejected in favor of a constructed landscape of rooftop gardens providing access to the units and a shared identity for residents.

As part of the outer edge of the major bend in the Mississippi River, immediately downstream from the French Quarter, this site emerged from its colonial plantation origins - now neighborhoods – extending from the river’s edge. Gridded extension off the river’s tangent characterizes the urban form of New Orleans. The early urban development of the river’s edge was supplanted by the railroad in the 19th century, and associated industrial development emerged parallel to the tracks. Most of these sites are now abandoned along the river, although the flood control infrastructure remains a major influence on riverside development. Sanborn maps over the history of New Orleans demonstrate the emergence and decline of this urban and industrial landscape.

The Bywater neighborhood to the north contains many typical single-family, detached and attached houses, following several of the long-standing New Orleans residential traditions. In particular, the Shotgun House and Creole Cottage can be found in their numerous variations. Camelback Shotguns and Cornerstore typologies are prevalent throughout the immediate context. These evolved traditions afford opportunities for transformation of the typologies to accommodate the expanded program and density of this river’s edge site.

This proposal reintroduces connections that have been weakened in the Bywater neighborhood. The striated arrangement of housing allows a continuous relationship between Chartres Street and the river’s edge. Parallel to the river, spaces connect across the grain of the shotgun type housing forms, producing a woven urban fabric. Passages connect and engage the housing units with the outdoor rooms and events.

Mixed-use is crucial to the revitalization of neighborhoods in New Orleans. Along Chartres Street this produces a porous edge with an alternating rhythm of built form and landscaped open space. This scheme also includes retail and limited office functions along the streets, with housing above and in the mid-block situation. The Tulane City Center is introduced along Montegut Street.

Diverse housing options are provided among the 160 units including one-bedroom, two bedroom, three bedroom, live-work, and efficiency units. 32 units are affordable and mixed among the market-rate housing. 43 units are handicapped accessible (including the penthouse). There are functional distributions among the various unit sizes, but perhaps more importantly, this scheme develops transformations of New Orleans residential typologies. This scheme increases the density of development over traditional neighborhoods, but it does so in full recognition of the way that traditional or vernacular forms can serve to produce a more environmentally responsive condition. Shotgun houses and Camelback conditions in particular have influenced the development of linear housing units with broad exposure to light and air, mediated by open space oriented in a north-south direction.

Gardens are provided on 4 levels of the scheme’s sectional development. Grade parking and the need to elevate housing combine to allow a constructed landscape of interwoven gardens. Interspersed within the site are areas where trees are planted on the firm ground, while the remainder of the landscape strategy involves a reconstituted ground planes.

The strategy for this project addresses several fundamental issues in support of environmental sensitivity and sustainable principles:

• Ventilation & Porosity
• Sun shading for structures
• Landscape Shading – various tree types
• Geothermal heat pumps
• Ground water retention & cisterns

Individual buildings are designed to make use of innovative glazing and enclosure systems that ventilate and insulate while maximizing light to the individual units. The construction process itself, through the use of prefabricated components, minimizes the environmental impact of this phase of work. Photovoltaic panels are integrated into the south façades.

Dimensional standardization supports both economy and ease of construction. At the same time, a great deal of variation is introduced in fenestration, roof forms, and three-dimensional expression. A concrete wall and frame system supports a concrete plank datum one floor above grade. This allows for protection from moisture and insects, and deals effectively with fire separation issues between the residential construction and the parking below. The independence of the individual housing bars would allow them to be easily phased. Construction of the market units over time would increase the likelihood of a varied expression by multiple designers. Precast concrete frames and slabs are set in place. Bathrooms, kitchens and closet areas are delivered to the site in completed packages ready to be hoisted into place. The building skin arrives in panelized components ready for installation. Yet pre-fabrication does not mean fewer choices. “Mass customization” offers each dwelling’s owner to adjust their home’s service core to their specific needs. They can adjust the layout and select their cabinetry and finishes. There are also choices regarding fenestration pattern, sun porches and balconies. Such options are currently available in manufactured consumer products from automobiles to sneakers. This technology is poised to be extended to high quality dwelling components.

Both affordability and diversity are leveraged through the inclusion many unit types including the two extremes in the housing market: studio dwellings of 630sf for occupants of limited means are provided as well as 2000 sf three-bedroom duplex units with generous interior and exterior living spaces and river views. 20% of the units are planned as affordable rentals or purchased residences. Prefabrication promotes the affordability of housing both on this site and other developing sites in the city. Manufacturing facilities should be located within New Orleans to provide jobs and support the local tax base. Retail will also support local sales tax revenue and will help to generate the full packaging of finance for the project.

This development achieves a density of 51 units/acre in addition to the other functions housed on this site. At this level of development, transit and small-scale retail functions can be easily and viably accommodated. Within relatively flood free zones of New Orleans, particularly the areas of historic development along the Mississippi River’s edge will need to be developed at a higher level of intensity to contribute effectively to the larger revitalization effort of the city.

This scheme honors the persistence and courage of New Orleans citizens who have endured so much and who are determined to rebuild their city. We admire their view toward the future by sharing a sense of optimism and hope.
link   firm site
competition site
Judith Kinnard
Charlottesville, VA

Rebuilding in the gulf will require a rethinking of what constitutes “ground”. The risk of future flooding and the potential toxicity of soils have made the street level a troubled territory. Residents are unlikely to forget that many of the deaths in Katrina were caused by the floodwaters engulfing one-story homes. FEMA has mandated higher elevations for dwelling both in Louisiana and in Mississippi creating a difference of up to 15' between street and interior grades in parts of Biloxi and other coastal communities.

Street level has historically been a questionable location for healthful dwelling in the city. 19th century images of London terraced houses show cesspools, coal bins and cisterns of domestic life creating a rather gritty base for more elegant dwelling distanced from the street and sidewalk. In most contemporary urban settings, open sewers and horses are gone, but the automobile has created new problems for life “at grade”.

Two recent competitions in New Orleans provided the opportunity to explore this issue in multi-family housing. Both projects address the challenge of linking the public realm of the city with a new raised level. Earthen ramps link to this new ground which weaves a porous landscape over and through the hard surfaces of buildings and asphalt. This new terrain has the potential to address a number of social and environmental issues. Semi-public park-like spaces can create social settings above the street. Ramping strategies can accommodate residents with disabilities. Parking is located at grade, yet is partially covered and shielded from the street.

Sustainable dwelling requires us to promote porous surfaces and retain storm water on site to limit flooding. Hot climates also suggest the need for a shaded, verdant landscape to limit the heat island effect and reduce demand for air conditioning. All of these conditions suggest that instead of a single ground we need to acknowledge and articulate multiple ground levels in a way that encourages a socially vital and economically sustainable pattern of multi-family dwelling.

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