Sunday, November 27, 2011

Incremental Upgrading in India
An interesting project surfaced on Dezeen that highlighted an incremental upgrading strategy in Pune, India, which was to be designed to be implemented in other places as well.  While the images provide a provocative and compelling new vision of the community, they are basically reorganizing and formalizing what the people and the communities are already doing.  It does beg the question if we give ourselves (architects) too much credit for coming up with something new and game changing. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

New Incremental Urbanism

Driving down US-19 from Bryson City to Cherokee, NC, there exists a campground that is unique even for Western North Carolina.  While it is not uncommon to see RV's with permanent roofs built over them, this particular campground in the small community of Ella was extraordinary because so many of the structures, as well as the community itself, had become permanent.

Most campgrounds of this sort provide summer havens for people from the deep south.  In the summer, they can bring their homes up to the cooler mountains, and then in winter, they can take them back where it is warmer.  However, many people now live in this community permanently, as they have found a way to exand their living space while not having to pay the high costs of land and materials typicaly in many houses in Western North Carolina.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Design and Social Change in Hale County, Alabama

20k house
Last year, I took a trip to Hale County, Alabama.  My goal was to connect with Pam Dorr, the director of HERO (Hale Empowerment and Revitalization Organization).  We arrived one spring day just in time for lunch, and she suggested we get some catfish at the local gas station, Mustang Oil. Soon, the four of us has ballooned into 10 people.  We ran into the local judge, and some long term and short term locals soon joined us, including a filmmaker from Maine, and a psychiatrist from California who has set up a live-in farm as an alternative to an institution.  Heading into the gas station, it seemed like catfish and oil would make strange bedfellows.  But, I was quick to discover it was a good one, and that Hale County was full of such unlikely combinations.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Cairo. Revolutionary Change?

Looking down at Tahrir Square (Source:
It has been extraordinary to watch the events in Egypt unfold in the last few days. In some ways, it is absolutely shocking to see the extent to which ordinary citizens have shed their fear of the government. Yet, on the other hand, it is amazing that it has taken this long. Having navigated the complete chaos of the city, visited and met citizens living in deep poverty and unimaginable living conditions, and finally watching new cities for the wealthy develop on the outskirts of Cairo, it became clear to me how broken Egyptian society had become.