Urban Shelve @PopLab. MIT West Campus, MA, 2013
Urban Prototype, case study for MIT West Campus in Cambridge -Research, in progress
Urban Shelve recycles linear infrastructure and builds new urban land on top of it, enabling vertical growth as an alternative to horizontal land consumption. A primary framework defines the structure and the infrastructure needed for multiple architectures to happen within, and is able to decide its composition based on specific site conditions and program needs.
Following the concept of a shelving system, it is thought as a set of components, which combined, can generate different forms and relationships. Moreover, the content can be flexibly customized and transformed throughout time, directly affecting the experience and perception of the whole, which then operates as showcase of the activity held inside. This intended transparency has to do with the fact that Urban Shelve will to operate as vertical extension of the urban fabric, and so its legibility as such is key for the public to realm to invade it. The vertical supports of the shelve are thus not strictly load-bearing elements but vertical streets and mechanical shafts; the beams and slabs are respectively streets and plots -in the air-, and within this multiperformative three-dimensional urban grid detached from the ground, the program is organized following open planning logic where the private and the public coexist and different agents take part in their development, addressing the dynamics of growth and change our contemporary culture demands.
As a case study for M.I.T. campus in Cambridge (Massachusetts), the Urban Shelve system is adapted to an existing railway line that divides the campus in two and generates an important scission in the fabric of the city. The insertion of the system in this void enables the vertical expansion of the campus and the sewing of the previously separated sides by a new urban axis. The system adapts itself –size, composition, form- to the context and is braced by a series of complementary elements that respond to the specificities of the site and intensify public accessibility. These elements serve simultaneously as structural buttresses and communication short cuts –bridges, urban panoramic elevators and ramps- creating direct links between the public ground of the city and the new public ground created in the air.