NAO / HILLTOPIA_PHILADELPHIA. FROM URBAN VOIDS TO PUBLIC HILLS
NO HEAR, NO SEE
Boundaries guide a city’s evolution. Philadelphia’s suburbs attract residents, money, and resources away from the city. What can they give back? Maybe their dirt.
Over the next 30 years, 250,000 acres of open space will be developed in Philadelphia’s Metropolitan Area. What if all the excess earth were shipped to the city’s vacant land and put to positive use?
In a flat city, neighborhoods break hard along lines of race and class. The invisible turns divisible. Visible topography could entangle and consolidate neighborhoods along lines of a new geography. We could be connected hills and valleys.
America’s cities may be predisposed to homogeneity. Without authority, every neighborhood becomes a gated community or a ghetto… our only two contemporary solutions. We propose to empower the voids left by this division. We will do as artist Robert Smithson did: invest dirt with intelligence and purpose.
These hill-bounded neighborhoods will satisfy desire for recreation, luxury, privacy and security. The overall square footage of available land per resident will increase by 30%. The hills will provide spaciousness and privacy. Both the physical buffer from the city and weaning off of aging infrastructure ensures security. Existing housing will be made energy efficient. The piled earth will insulate exposed party walls. Geothermal coils will run between houses and below the mounds. The planted terrain will act as leach fields for gray water treatment. Runoff can be captured for community gardens. The summits create ideal locations for urban recreation.
Srdjan Jovanovich Weiss