urban couture
studio design - psu

Urban Couture was a 5th year studio exercise based on the Urban Voids/ Grounds for Change International Design Ideas Competition.
From the original design description:
Urban Couture is a response to Philadelphia’s vacancy issues, based on the potential the city has for solving its own problems. As a notable metropolis, Philadelphia offers a discerningly thought-out range of high culture, entertainment and care goods. It is built history; a destination for tourism; a place of creativity where knowledge is produced and decisions are made. Cultural and historic value, astonishing museums, vibrant universities, vast green areas and many others are accomplishments the city has not lost despite having entered a period of decay over the past fifty years.
This is exactly the key factor to Urban Couture. Working as anchors for a huge network that comprises most of the city, these established attraction points become nodes that are linked with a new programming/zoning plan covering many different areas, including those that have high vacancy percentages nowadays. It aims at promoting the spread of generative activities presently concentrated in center city, therefore developing neighborhoods throughout Philadelphia.

This proposed network comprises five interlaced circuits, represented by colors: cultural (green), sports (orange), ethnic (blue), historic (yellow) and leisure (purple), each one encompassing small physical interventions as well as local planning guidelines. Such initiatives would stitch the city together, integrating not only vital points but also the city as a whole, promoting development and working on the issue of vacancy at a citywide scale, as land becomes more appreciated and attractive.

Correlating Initiatives
Urban Couture should be combined with some other strategies such as public campaigns and acquisition of funds. A campaign inspiring citizens of Philadelphia to enjoy and take care of the city they live in, which would promote tourism, business and entertainment could be a good way to acquire funds, as well as to bring people back to the city. The city budget and the NTI could afford small physical interventions, and private investors could take care of larger enterprises.
Finally, the tax structure - which is one of the most burdensome of the country - should be reviewed, or, in a more short-term strategy, an intervention on the city could try to avoid such burdens by creating specific programs. Audacious initiatives such as selling abandoned houses to yet non-resident people for a symbolic price under the condition they rehabilitate the houses themselves could be a successful effort.

Teamwork with Francisco Abreu and Karen Henrique