Throughout East Parkside the appearance of green space positively correlates to the existence of vacant lots and degraded surfaces. In some of these abandoned lots, the neighborhood has already taken the initiative to clean up and transform them into community spaces. But the potential of these spaces lies beyond their singular existence, parcel to parcel. This project starts by disrupting the intersection to the east of the library site between West Thompson St and Leidy Ave. by planting wildflowers and installing porous pavers. This gesture does more than remedy or “green” the neighborhood, rather it begins by an intention to propel the growth of existing cracks found across the roads and along various sidewalk surfaces. The cracks are a structural means to generate a new network of paths connecting existing green spaces and diffusing vegetation and new program spaces, while also improving on site groundwater recharge.
The library is just one of these spaces, in addition to the smaller interventions across the neighborhood including a gazebo, farmers market stand, tool rental and workshop space, as well a rain gardens, that cracks up and out of this newly parceled surface. The building becomes wrapped in the growth generated from the cracked surfaces and is nestled into a sunken garden that links the space into the continuous neighborhood growth network.
This reframing of the degradation of surfaces through the structure of the crack is what enables the transformation and growth from the cracks own deconstructive nature. While the physical surface conditions and the natural tendency for cracked surfaces to continue to propagate and reconnect to itself primarily influences the limits of growth, ultimately, it is the community members who govern its expansion. As these growths take over the city streets, and as the library’s garden grows out and expand, how does the ownership of the space change and evolve as these boundaries are blurred and integrated? Where does the boundary between city maintenance, neighborhood intervention, and growth exist and whose responsibility is it to intervene and why? Can this embrace of the physical crack and the existing conditions of East Parkside allow the community to take control of the development of their neighborhood and generate a strengthened and continuously growing neighborhood?
More work form this studio can be seen in Pressing Matters VII.