Common Grounds: An Alternative Way of Living

by Parawee Wachirabuntoon (MLA I '19) and Charles Smith (MLAUD '19)

This project looks to create a collective and resilient living environment in a historically segregated and underserved community. Looking at this new development from a landscape perspective first we looked into the ideals of creating social interaction and resiliency through the proximity and adjacencies of the designed elements as they work together to foster a new way to live. We then analyzed land vacancy and land banking in the Overtown neighborhood as well as did a hydrological study to see how sea level rises, salt water intrusion, and king tides affect the neighborhood. From this analysis we found that many developers are buying large parcels of land in the area, this is due to the fact that Overtown is located on some of the highest and safest land in the city as well having a deeper water table that protects it from water that is pushed up the through the porous limestone as the sea water inundates the city more and more.

Our intervention occupies two Miami city blocks and connects to the Seybold canal that leads to the Miami River. The first design move was to excavate land closest to the Seybold canal to allow water to penetrate the site and create a wetland barrier as well as a water front park that is composed of multiple terraces that are flood tolerant and resistant. The housing in situated on a plinth of parking that slopes back to grade at the east edge of the site allowing for a smooth transition into the existing community. We utilized three different building typologies on site to allow for different domestic needs. These typologies all stem from the same desire to create a living composition that allows the residents to be more socially interactive while also feeling safe and apart of a community. This is done by placing building in such a way that smaller community clusters begin to form within the larger project, also no private balconies or courtyards are designed, it is all semi-public. The space between buildings would be able to be manipulated depending upon on how the resident wanted to use the space by adding potted plants and seating. This environment would also be interspersed with vernal pools to capture water running down the slope creating temporal spaces that change how they are occupied from a shaded seating area in dry conditions to a flood mitigation system in wet conditions. Overall the site has in all its elements the ideas of resiliency, communal life, and the public realm. This project responds to the multiple lifestyles that are encountered on a day-to-day basis.

Site Section
Site Section
Site Section - Flood
Site Section – Flood