Black Sky Project
With each historic disaster, builders envision a better future. London rose to its current status as an international center after the Great Fire of 1666 burned the city to the ground and Axis bombardment during World War II. The difference between previous “New Era” events such as the great fire and bombing of London versus the COVID-19 pandemic was that the former misfortunes were physical space re-writing events (destroyed buildings) vs the latter, a lifestyle and cultural impact event (learning to cope with a virus and it’s wakes).
The pandemic has accelerated adoption of technologies. Already ubiquitous, internet dependent office work had officially moved into our private residences. Weekdays and weekends are indifferentiable. Living rooms and dining tables became offices and conference rooms. This once again challenged our definition of spatial programming. People were ever more connected virtually with tweets, messages and emails, yet the trends within the general public of depression, and feelings of isolation continued to grow. The more time we spend in digital space, the more we depart from our physical world.
What we are calling for is a rebalance of digital and physical space. The Internet needs boundaries. The Black Sky project is a series of nodes located throughout the city, that when you cross over the threshold all digital connection stops. Similar to our pilgrimage to wilderness to seek an unpolluted corner of earth to be closer to nature, the black sky project references nights where light pollution does not tint our vision, allowing us clarity.
As workers are decoupled from their physical offices, vacant towers are repurposed. Districts that once existed as monocultures lost their purpose as program is not tied to space as people began to work anywhere and everywhere. The question refocuses on how architects can create “place”. This change incentivized owners to adapt existing spaces to become living oriented spaces like apartments, elderly housing and schools. To generate locale, architects need to focus on new forms of amenity in a city to redistribute and fill in voids left by the pandemic. This natural demographic re-distribution restructured zones within London that were predominantly commuter focused and previously exclusive to banking or institutions due to expensive barriers to entry. Moving forward, a more evenly allocated population across the city fosters sustainability and regeneration as it is not reliant on a single industry for its survival.
The Black Sky Project is a proposal for a new amenity within dense city centers, cared for and provided by the city like public green spaces. It is an opportunity to ensure every public space is free of capitalistic pressures including digital space. In this space, people can take back their autonomy of communication, a few minutes, a few moments at a time.