formally vacancy

2015
selected for Retrospecta 38
program:
 urban design
location: Bridgeport, Connecticut, USA
collaborator: Vittorio Lovato
advisor: Keller Easterling

Concerning itself with the interplay between the big and small, value and vacancy, our project begins with minor community practices and uses them as tools to rekindle new positive economic growth for Bridgeport. These small spatial practices initially play out on eight vacant lots along State Street, an important artery connecting neighboring Fairfield and Bridgeport’s Downtown. These sites were identified using a selection metric that measured determinants such as visibility, transportation links, and sun exposure.

Conventionally, minor practices seem to be positioned against the capital intensive juggernauts – an urban farm vs. Walmart, a sowing kiosk vs. Macy’s. Not placing them at odds, we look for productive linkages that take the grassroots quality of the minor and the strength of the major to elevate Bridgeport from its current rut.

As sites start cultivating new use values, new economic values would be created for neighboring properties. To avoid the negative development associated with new desirability in a location, two regulations are implemented.

Firstly, a new type of land trust is envisioned, one where surrounding properties own a portion of the vacant land, ensuring that use value remains above the possible economic gain of selling the vacant lot. Secondly, new zoning regulations will set in motion the continuation of major-minor development wherein new developments provide vacant space nearby for ‘minor’ versions of their building program.

This not only creates a new type of city form, but ensures that Bridgeport becomes a social condenser, a city-scaled version of frontier local initiatives like Bridgeport Innovation Center and NEST Arts Factory.