The project investigated new ways to connect, repair, retrofit and transform suburban space, from re-thinking the typical multi-family master planned development to uncovering new potentials for public spaces in unforeseen places.
In cities across the United States, sandwiched quietly between the newly coveted urban space of the central city and the suburban sprawl of the periphery, are outwardly conventional landscapes experiencing profound transformation. These landscapes are neither urban nor suburban, but a conglomeration of both, a hybrid condition mixed from one part global city, one part garden suburb, and one part disinvestment. The glue that holds these landscapes together is that most were developed at one time, for one market and for one purpose—with the monotony and uniformity that goes with this—yet have transformed into something else entirely. The Gulfton community in Houston is one of these landscapes, and the challenge of retrofitting this landscape to meet the needs of new residents was the focus of the project.
To this end, the PARKED project explored the possibilities for retrofitting 1970s garden apartment landscapes through civic infrastructure in a way that supported the changing identity of the community and the transnational urbanism that has emerged. The project departed from the static field and limitations of the existing physical landscape, and sought to generate an open, unbounded space that worked in concert with the provisional and transnational cultural landscape that has surfaced—where spaces are appropriated, transformed and occupied in new ways. Civic infrastructure and public space (neglected in the original development) are the primary intervention tools, woven through leftover spaces, particularly parking lots, to create a framework for social space and gathering.
University of Houston
College of Architecture
Design Team: Susan Rogers