In Pittsburgh's east end lies the Larimer neighborhood. Having experiences population loss upwards of 80% since 1950, it now lies mostly abandoned. As a result of recent projects in surrounding areas, such as Google's occupation of the previously vacant Bakery Square, attention has been drawn towards Larimer as a potential site for 21st century urban revitalization. Our task was to design a center for urban agriculture that would work in unison with the existing community groups of the area and other proposed projects.
Upon visiting Larimer, its long and ongoing abandonment is apparent. Plants push through every crack in concrete, revealing the nature long held at bay. Observation revealed a curious aspect of these apparent weeds: that all of them were were indigenous to Western Pennsylvania, and that a number of them contained edible portions. So, rather than reverting to resistance of these natural processes, a system of adaptively managed agriculture and horticulture was developed that embraces nature's reclamation of Larimer, creating a new breed of urban center, one that allows for the natural processes of the world, and allows for humanity to work in cooperation with them, rather than in egocentric ignorance of them.
Stage 1 - Induction
Stage one of the process is the introduction of flora species that will promote future growth by pumping Nitrogen into the soil and binding the soil together for better planting conditions. At this stage, the only fauna to be expected are species already present in Larimer.
An Outreach center containing a communal kitchen/classroom, and office spaces will be installed at this step, with the intention of it being a mostly permanent feature of the site.
Stage 2 - Elaboration
The next stage of the process is to introduce a number of species that either begin to work towards the production of edible goods, or towards creating conditions in which edible species might thrive.
A number of small greenhouses will be installed at this stage, placed amongst the clearings left by the early growths of the Induction stage.
Stage 3 - Revision
The middle stage involves the introduction of destructive elements in the form of vines and creepers which will overtake the plants as they have grown thus far in order to open the canopy by breaking the branches of existing trees with their weight.
Stage 4 - Marketization
At this stage, between the greenhouses and the surviving productive plants will afford a great enough harvest to justify the construction of a marketplace.
The market will be constructed around the broken stumps and still living plants of the site, making as minimal an impact on the ground plane as possible while affording overhead protection.
Stage 5 - Beautification
The final stage of the process is the introduction of a number of indigenous wild flowers towards the goal of generating income via flower sales and towards making the site more visually attractive to the passerby.