Third Place in Between Spaces: a New Orleans Design Ideas Competition for Underutilized Public Spaces
with Grace Yang & Rui Felix
New Ground envisions a soft and safe under-bridge landscape that will provide recreational space for the event and the everyday, serving as a catalyst for future housing and mixed use development along the freeway corridor and linking two sides of New Orleans’ downtown where infrastructure is typically seen as a barrier.
To promote a safe pedestrian experience, we propose a series of column lighting and light posts along the new promenade. In addition, introduced traffic lights at each entrance to the underpass will allow all direction crossings between the three differently programmed spaces. The entire park becomes pedestrianized during Mardi Gras and large events.
Currently occupied by several parking lots and home to a transient community, it is a perfect opportunity to showcase how landscape architecture can serve as a driving force for development, generating speculation and interest in real estate, and creating community spaces before and not after people move in. This entry seeks to become a beloved playscape for all ages that is multi- programmatic, engaging on three dimensions and five senses, and creates a green space framework to help the current commercial district transition into a mixed use and residential area.
MATERIALITY & WATER STRATEGY
Our design will be constructed of 80% recycled rubber and artificial turf: permeable, safe and welcoming to play on, low maintenance and low cost colourful surfacing that brings life into a shadowy space, and 20% plantings on the edges where sun and water are plentiful. This proposal envisions the capture of highway runoff from the above freeways to irrigate plantings that edge the site. Together with the vegetated buffer, which also filters air from the road, rubber surfacing acts as an acoustically absorptive sound buffer to mitigate the sensory overload of the nearby passing cars.
Located along the mardi gras parade route, the first section is transformed from a dark corridor into an elongated public plaza where the bridge meets the parade route, where life and music can spread out. Day to day, the plaza is a shady spot for exercise and people watching, serving as a welcome mat into the design with visual stimulation and creative paving that traces various pathways according to an abstracted fleur de lis pattern.
The heart of the design is a curvy artificial topography, where soft activities such as playing, running, rolling, and jumping occur on a platform of coloured turf and rubberized play surface, while the same forms support a concrete skate park, and create seating and raised spaces. Both during celebrations and everyday, this section is filled with life, and users of all ages.
The Sports Field
The active sports field area provides delineated space for basketball, soccer, and court sports, while the adjacent artificial turf are a setting for informal games of bocce and frisbee provide covered but open air space for gatherings and markets from nearby food growing communities. Lighting plays an important part in the design, illuminating the undercarriage of a harsh modern infrastructure, to create a welcoming environment for users and passersby.