Topomutations for a Vertical LA

Conflation of “super” (Latin super (preposition and v. prefix) above, beyond, in addition, to an especially high degree; akin to Greek hypér, and strata (1. a layer of material, naturally or artificially formed, often one of a number of parallel layers one upon another, 2. one of a number of portions or divisions likened to layers or levels).

The street is the last remaining active public space in Los Angeles.  But its capacity to provide the public a space for more than just the automobile has been abandoned.  Vertical development has redefined the urban experience for the Angelino, leaving the ground for aspirations of elevated density without any connection to the exterior.  The street remains dormant, devoid of any relief from the hard edges that encase your urban experience.  But the exterior volume of the street presents an interesting opportunity for the public to reclaim space by extending the street vertically, a new datum off of which public space can grow. 

The interrogation of the architectural envelope has been extensively studied at the ground level, but has not been properly examined in spaces that are not attached to the ground plane.  The future of public space in LA demands the examination of the erosion of the binary relationship between inside and outside that is typically found when space is elevated off the ground.

The volume above the street becomes a site for introducing a new type of open space, one which grows in and through the built environment, at once integrating itself with, and offering escape from the oppressive envelopes and interiorities of a vertically intensive cityscape. This open space of the new street creates a volume which liberates itself from the traffic and congestion of the ground plane, reinventing a new topography for a pedestrian experience of the urban environment. Here the pedestrian is able to leave behind the overwhelming and exhausting aspects of urban life, accessing a space which allows them to briefly escape their day-to-day life.  This new streetscape turns pedestrian into urban hiker, navigating an invented topography that invigorates them with a new form of urban play, one that transcends the spatial monotony of the typical experience by infusing the given context with entirely new hybrids of spatial environments - topomutations for a vertical LA.

Semester: Fall 2017
Course: Degree Project Research 501
Critics: Dragana Zoric + Evan Tribus
Team: in collaboration with Sebastian Lopez-Wilson russell low architecture russell low architect