THE BUILDING IN THE CITY. The South Bronx Project

Design Core Studio, 3rd year undergraduate
School of Architecture, Art, and Planning, Cornell University, Fall semester 2018

In recent years, a growing interest in global histories, and in anthropological and cultural contents has called the attention of several disciplines toward new ways of dealing with small towns, villages and urban boroughs, toward an understanding of their character and a preservation against gentrification. Urban boroughs are places where triggering processes of colonization and decolonization, hybridization of collective and individual residential programs, centralization and decentralization, exploring new forms of work, leisure and socialization. Usually the ghettoes of metropolitan cities – Little Italy in The Bronx as well as Little Italy and Chinatown in Manhattan – still enjoy a community life, where the sense of living the neighborhood is still present. But the ghetto is also synonymous of privatization of small portions of the city, or worse, exclusion and voluntary or imposed captivity. The aim of the course is to decolonize urban ghettoes by acting political and social processes, expressed by architectural words, ideas, features, and through an integration between built form and urban space. The scope is that of subverting the idea of segregation carried by the ghetto living, toward the possibility of building or completing urban villages where migrants live together with local people, where affordable houses are mixed with middle class dwellings, equipped with amenities, and with a strong presence of green areas. In recent years, the South Bronx has been selected as an appealing site for planning massive affordable housing projects but the application of “manhattanism” to the Bronx could be result in an aggressive and irreversible transformation process, attempting to the local identity and culture of the area. Instead of adding massive buildings in the boroughs’ blank areas, the studio aim is preserving the urban settlement of the Bronx area redesigning, repurposing and rebuilding the Southern Bronx urban blocks.

Instructors: arch. Lina Malfona