After a five day Thanksgiving Residency in the Berkshires, all of the detail work that will go into Itinerant Home is complete. Now it’s just a matter of assembling the house. In the meantime, Carey Clouse, MIT Architecture alumna and an Enterprise Rose Fellow at Providence Community Housing in New Orleans was kind enough to contribute the following insight about New Orleans post-Katrina:
Although Shrinking Cities have plagued the Rust Belt for several decades, the rise of natural disasters, growing foreclosures and a deepening economic crisis has fueled this effect throughout large and small American cities. This changing growth pattern calls for innovative design tactics; empty lots, forsaken buildings, a loss of density and irregular rings of development offer exceptional opportunities for meaningful design interventions.
As communities look for new ways to integrate food production and localized fuel sources, useful infrastructure and changing lifestyles, this drosscape offers itself up as a panacea to the problem. New Orleans has become a testing ground for new and innovative design tactics, and the post-Katrina landscape offers a unique set of geographic, cultural and physical conditions for these efforts. Designers who work with this landscape must understand the issues that specifically affect shrinking cities, and the impact of this population loss on the environment, community, and built landscape.
With just 77% of its pre-storm population, a 50% average increase in rents, and over 60,000 vacant homes or empty lots, housing, density and land use have become major factors in the redevelopment of New Orleans. Though troubling, these statistics provide designers with real parameters for retooling the landscape. For better or worse, New Orleans has become the target of innovative and sustainable design work, ranging from bioremediation efforts to re-casting the subdivision, scattered-site farming to local power generation strategies, land banking and radical community building efforts.
Many thanks for the insights Carey. Keep up the good work!