Portfolio Project Detail

A Vertical Ecosystem Stefan Burnett, Fernando Avila, and Jeremy Cheng

The ideals of urbanization are that of opportunity, diversity, and density. So many uses are packed close together with extensive transportation networks, as well as pockets of green space. The dense program serves as an anchor for open green space, as well as a mixing of people. COVID has brought to the forefront an issue with the core of urbanization. This crisis has people moving out of the city due to the higher ability to work remotely. These urban centers founded on big business are unraveling. So, it braves the question: why live in a city when you can move out to the suburbs at less of a cost while keeping the sought-after jobs?

Crises like COVID are highly present in the history of London, such as the Plague, the Fire, and WWII. London has a consistent track record of regenerating itself and bringing people back to the city. Today we are struggling with a healthy urban environment. More and more steel and concrete are being poured into our cities, gentrification is rising, equity is decreasing, and neighborhood divides continue to grow. People are leaving to get away from the business, lack of locality, and unhealthy living the urban ecosystem presents.

Cities are presented as diverse places of opportunity but in our analysis of London specifically, as well as generally for other cities, the diversity only goes so far. A lot of diverse people live in a city, but the diversity of programs and neighborhoods are lacking. As you can see from the London land use map, the programs still form neighborhoods that can divide the diversity of people. This is how places like London’s Financial Centre can symbolize a certain demographic and push other people and programs to other neighborhoods. All those buildings are closed pieces of programs that are not actually promoting diversity, sustainability, or public space. Our design proposal looks to challenge the very fabric of a tower and the rigidity of the program it encapsulates.

Rather than the building be defined by its program, this is defined by its public open space. This Vertical Ecosystem is providing many places of escape for people within the city, rather than wanting to go out to suburbia. These layers of green space are then connected with only multipurpose space. Now the program takes on an organic use and form to promote equity and diversity of uses. A tower of only green space and targeted multipurpose spaces break down the rigidity of a tower. You begin to break the exterior shell of the building holding the program, and let the program serve all kinds of people, not just those fortunate enough to work in a closed-off office high rise in the Financial Centre. Now we are promoting healthy use, diverse user interaction, and healthy materials through our open green space tower of escape and equity.