Clifford Wong Prize for Housing Design: Harvard Graduate School of Design
Grounded Visionaries: Pedagogy + Practice: Exhibition, Harvard University Graduate School of Design
Due to uncontrolled urbanization and drainage regimes, Florida, once called the South Golden State is now a fragmented land of marshes, sloughs and estuarine habitats; the ‘world’s largest wet subdivision.’ While there are countless plans for the restoration of the Everglades ecosystem, no attention has been given to the fast and inappropriate urban housing models that surround it. The strain on resources as a result of existing suburban housing models is rampant in this context. South Florida’s per capita water usage is 50% above the national average.
Population growth in Florida is directly associated with the process of the continued manipulation of this landscape. Three of the 10 fastest growing cities in the country with populations over 100,000 are in Florida; Weston in Broward County, growing at 39.5 % per year, Port St. Lucie in St. Lucie County, at 33.4 percent and Cape Coral in Lee County at 25.1 percent. Miami-Dade County is facing the similar effects from the rapid, intense and uncontrolled urbanization. Population growth issues are diminishing the quality of transportation, recreation and conservation of open space. Social inequities coupled with the fast suburban development and bank crash of 2008 produced vast lands of low-density single-family homes foreclosure. With a population growth of three million by 2025 and 4.5 million by 2060, there is even more pressure for dealing with issues of housing as it relates to environmental and economic concerns in the county.
This project aims to address the ecological and social issues resulting from the typical suburban model in the region, while providing a housing prototype for the new 30,000 residents without expanding the Urban Development Boundary. In order to capitalize on this fragile border threshold between the Everglades and the Florida Urban Edge, this housing model capitalizes on an opportunity to retool dated hydrological infrastructures by designing new dynamic, flexible and adaptive urban interfaces between the Everglades and its urban contexts. New development along this edge converts the long thought of back-swamps of Southern Florida into a new and resilient frontage for the city; Blurring artificial + engineered boundaries between the Everglades and the city, while creating an interface capable of knitting geologic and hydrological conditions of the Everglades Park with its urban contexts. By doing so, the housing model offers a renewed cultural connection to a landscape and its systems that are essential for the region’s survival. Furthermore, this new edge proposes architectural housing prototypes and urban design typologies capable of responding to its surroundings. They themselves are coupled with soft infrastructures, flooding control and natural water fluctuation techniques to provide a dynamic landscape and an urban cultural experience with the Everglades.