Fall 2017 | 4 Month Long Project | Completed with Hamza Qureshi
Our semester long project at the start of year three was broken down into three parts. First, we were given a site that was right on the river in Pittsburgh's Strip District. We went on several site visits and documented our tips with a series of site maps and sections. Then, we were assigned a high-density housing project for precedent research, and finally we had to design our own housing on the assigned site while incorporating an "eco-machine".
Hamza and I decided to divide up the site analysis so he would analyse the social aspects of the site and I would take the environmental aspects. One of the biggest factors affecting our site is rainwater runoff. The site sits between the Allegheny River and the steep Polish Hill, so whenever there's even a slight rainfall, a lot of water passes through our site. This created the opportunity for our designs to focus on collecting this rainwater and filtering it on site for use, which would take some of the load off of Pittsburgh's combined sewer system.
The precedent study that was assigned to us was MVRDV's Silodam. We created a collection of drawings analyzing the different types of housing units and how they are organized throughout the building. After studying the concepts behind the design, we decided that we like the fact that MVRDV chose the number of each unit based on Amsterdam's housing demographic, but we disliked the way that the units were cut off from any community spaces.
Our final designs combined a series of housing units with a method of collecting water in a bioswale and filtering it through natural and mechanical systems. Rainwater that falls on the site is caught by the buildings' green roofs and guided down to the bioswale through an exposed pipe system. Water runoff from Polish Hill is caught by the smaller bioswale that runs through Smallman Street and is guided through a series of tributaries to the main bioswale. Floodwater from the river is also guided through tributaries and into the bioswale. The final designs show how landscape can be used for a better not only the site's environment, but the environment beyond, and that humans can coexist symbiotically with this system.