The Broken Sites project is a series of proposals that address the disruption caused by infrastructure in existing city fabric. The project suggests that as infrastructure disrupts the continuity of urban experience, it can also create unique opportunities for new public space.
Infrastructure is understood as public works with a singular purpose intended to alleviate one or multiple pressures of urban density – transportation, water distribution, flood wall, bridge, tunnel. Typically, these interventions have a scale and orientation that is foreign to the language of the city fabric, and they typically do not account for existing neighborhoods, streets, institutions, and spaces, resulting in a zone of discontinuity that does not lend itself to a simple reconnection. In many cities, these areas are considered unavoidable and are allowed to exist, with little or no effort made to mediate the disruption or re-stitch the existing fabric.
In these proposals, we suggest not only a reconnection, but an introduction of new elements and new program that each city or neighborhood lacks. Through close reading of historical, spatial, and environmental contexts and juxtapositions, we develop a catalogue of architectural components – a kit of parts – and a set of principles for developing a formal and spatial language out of incongruous elements. These constitute a third element – an intervention that is neither infrastructure nor fabric, but whose form, program, and spatial typology is derived from the specificity of both. This allows each solution to be woven into the site with an indigenous language that serves to mediate the disparate conditions and provide a new site for a new program.
The Broken Sites project asserts that open space and civic program are of critical importance to the health of a city, and that the similarity in scale between infrastructure and monumental civic space is not a coincidence but rather an impetus to create new, novel civic works.