The Detroit Shape-Scape is a theoretical project sited within the zoned conditions described in Radical Railbanking, and aspires to concretize the latent publics implicates in that project. The project is conceived as mini city within the city, housing a programmatic diversity characteristic of a vital metropolis. The program includes interior and exterior public spaces, an expansion of the adjacent Wayne State University, student residences, rentable space for craftsmen and artists, stops for existing and proposed mass transit systems, bike storage for commuters, and commercial programs. The project catalyzes this programmatic mix within a formal strategy that mimics the formation of many American cities. The site is divided into a miniature urban grid and then each block is made host to a small building that is manipulated in a simulation of common incentive zoning policies. Each block provides exterior public space through a setback of the ground level plan; and light and air is provided between blocks through a setback of the upper levels. On the ground level, the manipulations result in a complexly interwoven mesh of program and interior and exterior space. On the upper levels, the setbacks provide an opportunity for visual connections across programs. The miniature buildings meet at the second level, resulting in a vast interior urbanism, where sectional voids and vertical circulation cores provide locational anchors in a labyrinthine urban organization. On the exterior, the complex is shaped to visually align into a single skyline figure when viewed at high speeds from the highway and arterial roads, while dissolving into a collection of figural buildings when viewed by pedestrians or from the vantage of slower traffic.
Site of Radical Railbanking zoning map
Left: An urban organization is collaged within the site; a mini-metropolis within the city. Right: The collaged urban organization is formalized.
Each block is regulated by generalized zoning envelope.
The complex touches the ground as a series of pavilions that define a network of small exterior public spaces. Together, they form a matrix of interior and exterior public rooms. On the second floor, the individual pavilions join to create a vast interior urbanism, combining the constituencies of the pavilions below. Above the second floor, the complex forms a series of miniature housing towers.
The complex is shaped to visually align into a single skyline figure when viewed at high speeds from the highway and arterial roads, while dissolving into a collection of figural buildings when viewed by pedestrians or from the vantage of slower traffic.