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The evolution and expansion of cities necessitates a concurrent proliferation of the modern tools of growth. These tools, or infrastructure, are currently programmed to perform one functional operation, when in reality their presence alone brings forth consequences in our urban fabric. That is, they mark, divide, and obstruct movements in the city while simultaneously creating peripheral spaces of marginality. Furthermore, in developing countries cities struggle to expand while providing adequate infrastructure. The provision of infrastructure has the opportunity to be an architectural contribution beyond the current model of idiosyncratic structures.
How do pieces of infrastructure adapt to provide more than one function? Subsequently, how are their assets of structure and embedded locale able to contribute to the urban fabric as opposed to the current bifurcation of our cities? And how does the understanding of urbanism in the developing world relate to the roles of infrastructure. These questions will serve as the basis to explore the repurposing of infrastructure.
The argument is that infrastructure can be adapted and successfully integrated creating a more continuous landscape by softening and blurring the lines created by the physical structures, while at the same time offering habitation, economic growth, artistic expression and social vindication. The benefits of doing so are not ephemeral. Research has shown that the integration of infrastructure into urban architecture offers economic, spatial, social and environmental opportunities.
One case study of a South African city, explores a failed piece of highway infrastructure, in the context of a developing country on the cusp of global economical and political recognition. The architecture of this new urban morphology is expressed as a means of blurring the imagery of impeding highways into a mixed-use development as part of a hybrid form of urban fabric.
Through the investigation and research, various issues arose: circulation, mix of use, and integration being foremost. In general these issues, amongst many others, would also be present in similar projects. Because of these parallels the testing of concepts through design allows this thesis to contribute to a broad base of architectural knowledge as a new typology tested in the unique context of the developing world.