Monday, April 19, 2010


Cylindrical Appropriation

There is a closed section of interstate 195, about 1.5 miles long skimming along the outskirts of downtown Providence. The highway was rerouted in the past few years to reopen the city core after being filled with this massive stretch of road for the past few decades. But the demolition of this section of left over road is lagging and in the mean time there have been vigorous debates and many interesting proposals made by architecture students as to what should be done with this abandon stretch. In particular, the section that spans the Providence River is a very provocative segment; it receives full sun all day, the river gently flows beneath it and it has perfect views of both downtown Providence to the North and the opening to the Narragansett Bay to the South. Tear it down, build a commercial development on top, fill it with soil and farm it, creating a sort of CSA run by homeless people, making a hub for a city wide bicycle network, as well as making a Providence version of Manhattans highline has all been discussed.

But nothing has been done for many months now, and probably nothing will be done for many more. Yet, Cardi construction, who has the development contract, and the City of Providence are prohibiting people from using the closed section in the mean time. But people, by simple avoiding the authority figures, are slowly beginning to use this section of highway as a quite, if not surreal, getaway from the city.
There have been large scale construction materials stored on the bridge section since Fall, 2009, leaving the material weathered and unused.

What if the public began to usurp the resources left over by the City? What if the city relinquished its tight grip on public resources and allowed people to take and active roll in transforming abandoned and unused spaces in the city?

This is a small space I calibrated on top of this bridge section. This project infills a 7 foot tall concrete cylinder, initially meant to house underground pipes, that had been sitting unused on this highway for many months. The addition includes a wood and glass skylight, with a hole left to climb up the ladder, a pine floor and two circular window/doors that pivot on magnet connections.

After the flood

In late March, localized sections of Rhode Island experienced serious flooding. After just a few days of heavy rain, Cranston and Warwick were hit with historic high waters from the Pawtuxet River which crested at nearly 21 feet, nearly 12 feet above the normal flood line. As a result sewage treatment facilities became inundated, houses were destroyed, parking lots were termporarly turned into ponds and lakes and the Warwick mall, and many other retailers, full of insurance backed merchandise, was left to mold.
The paved streets turned into water thoroughfares, exposing the delicate reliance that automobiles have on the status quo. However, after the streets became filled with calmly flowing water, they became a perfect place to take an alternative mode of transportation. This is me and Andy traversing the city by canoe, have a totally new spatial experience.