Carnegie Mellon University School of Architecture
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Strip District Eco Housing

Strip District Eco Housing

In collaboration with Zane Birenbaum
Fall 2016

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The site for the project was a large industrial brownfield area in the Strip District area of Pittsburgh, adjacent to the Allegheny River. The Strip is home to a vibrant commercial area that houses a number of local grocery stores, cafés, and restaurants. The entire long edge of the site bordering this area is occupied by the Pittsburgh Produce Terminal (now defunct).

The project site was thoroughly investigated in order to understand all its environmental and social context, including wind, flood lines, daylight, noise, commercial activity, land use, zoning, and more. These conditions were documented and used as an basis for a parametric exploration of site conditions, using chosen variables from the total set recorded. Alongside this exploration, a system of “eco-machines” was developed as a  mechanism to improve undesirable aspects of the environmental context, and life on the site.

An initial exploration was conducted into green walls, and their usefulness in mitigating conditions of temperature, humidity, and light between the interior and exterior of a space. A system was devised with green walls integrated into units of housing to help with thermal conditioning and shading, as well as the production of food for consumption by residents.

A bioswale system was integrated into the project to serve as a black water recycling system for the development, and an irrigation system for the green walls. This concept was expanded so that the bio-swales could be used as a storm water retention system in order to help sewage overflow into the Allegheny River caused by Pittsburgh’s inadequate sewage system.

This project focused on the documentation and manipulation of water flow on the site, using Grasshopper as a parametric tool to record existing flows, and then modify the topography of the site to create a landscape ideal for irrigation and bioswale water flow, ideal conditions for green wall systems, circulation through the site, and views.

A parametric script was used to aggregate residential units in a number of sweeping formations on the constructed landscape to create sub-communities of families within the site.

The Strip District Eco Housing project was developed as part of my coursework for the Consolidation I Studio. The studio was aimed at strengthening parametric design skills and exploring the creation of a form and program from environmental constraints and conditions.