MULTI[FUNCTIONAL] an approach to maximize use of remnant urban space
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThe urbanization boom this country experienced in the twentieth century set the foundation for the urban fabric we live in today. The urban fabric functions as a result of the many and varied systems modern society has built in hopes of taming the forces of nature. An important example of one of these networks, though seldom seen and rarely celebrated, is the urban drainage system. Creeks and wetlands covered significant portions of coastal southern California until urbanization arrived in the early twentieth century. Typically small in scale but rich in biodiversity, these creeks came roaring to life following winter rains, draining the basin to the sea, all while feeding the wetlands that protected the coastal land. However, in an attempt to eliminate flooding risk and provide stable land on which to build, the majority of the coastal creeks were entombed in concrete, some above ground, and others below. What sounded like a good idea at the time has become a relic of the past. The experiment has demonstrated what happens when an ecological resource is misinterpreted as a liability in the urban fabric. That is, with research and observation, it is now becoming clear that these resources are assets to the communities and regions in their vicinities. Additionally, these potential resources have been walled off and shut away from the public, creating corridors that act as barriers within the urban fabric. A new attitude has emerged toward urban drainage infrastructure as the potential ecological and social benefits of green infrastructure become clearer in the public’s mind. Research along with many successful infrastructure projects from around the globe demonstrate the potential multiple benefits green infrastructure strategies can provide. These projects offer examples of strategies and elements that combine to create successful multi-functional spaces centered on urban infrastructure. A desire to synthesize these new strategies and traditional landscape architectural methods informed the development of a master plan for remnant urban space straddling a channelized coastal waterway in Oxnard, CA. This project demonstrates one approach to re-imagining coastal infrastructure as a multifunctional asset that provides habitat and recreational and social opportunities for the local community.