I completed Edge Urbanisms: A Holistic Experience of Wilderness and Culture in my graduate thesis design studio in 2011. The study explores a fundamental tenet of urban planning and building design: that we draw a boundary between the built environment and the natural, the urban and the geographic, and create cities that lack connection to our unique geographic place and time. The Edge Urbanisms project is about engendering a holistic sense of place by folding together urbanity and geography to create a healthier and more complete environment for human beings.
The site is one of the few areas between Boise's open land and the city that has not been developed with housing. This provides the unique opportunity to create a hard edge between urban density and open land. The entire project area is masterplanned schematically while the main architectural focus is the bar building to the east of the site, on the edge of built environment and landscape.
The FORMAL Fold
Ecotones, the edges between two habitats, can take many shapes and the one chosen for this site is the fold. The fold creates a long edge between both the urban and natural environment, allowing each to retain its identity while being interlocked with the other for an integrated experience.
The site today has many recreational opportunities (archery, dog training, skateboarding, baseball...) and these are preserved and augmented to become spectacles for the restaurants, offices, and residences incorporated into the site.
The TEMPORAL Fold
The small stream to the north floods this site annually. The phenomena of the flood is welcomed by the project because lends a welcome sense of temporality and change to the environment, something people trek into the foothills year round to experience.
Temporal folding also happens daily through the sun and seasonally through native plantings. Sanford Kwinter’s The Complex and the Singular and Randall Teal’s The Process of Place inspired this project’s embrace of transitory phenomena. Both hold that places change throughout time and this should be brought to the forefront of their design.
The TECTONIC Fold
Sketch model experiments with folding and with light informed the tectonics of the skin between the urban and geographic parts of the fold. Ramps fold through the interior and exterior, obscuring the line between the two and providing a continuous walkway above the flood.
A planted screen creates an ever-changing edge to interstitial space between the building envelope and the outdoors.