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Design Aims to Reshape FL Beachfront

Thursday, May 11, 2017

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Madrid-based multidisciplinary firm Ecosistema Urbano on April 28 emerged as the winner of the Shore to Core waterfront design competition, which pitted more than 40 international architects, artists and designers in a challenge to reimagine the look of West Palm Beach, Florida.

The design and research competition, spearheaded by the Van Alen Institute (New York) and the West Palm Beach Community Redevelopment Agency, determined that Ecosistema Urbano’s Open Shore proposal to revamp the city's waterfront area as the way to “create healthier, more vibrant cities that are intelligent, flexible, and responsive,” adding that Florida coastal cities need to “adapt to shifting demographics, changing weather, and sea level rise” over the next few decades.

New Approach

The Open Shore vision for the West Palm Beach’s city-owned waterfront land includes the first public bioclimatic domes in the country. Among the features planned are hanging gardens and a Banyan garage, which can be transformed into a mixed-use building with adaptive climates. Everything from farmers’ markets to co-working spaces could be housed in the domes.

“The Banyan garage is conceived as a new beacon for activities in Downtown,” Van Alen said in a press release. “Designed as a hybrid, flexible and permeable building, being open and accessible to all citizens, it becomes a true part of the city from the ground floor to the public roof terrace.

“Its bioclimatic design, based on a green permeable facade and two big thematic courtyards—natural and digital—provides pleasant environmental conditions throughout the year while reducing environmental impact and management costs.”

Artist's rendering courtesy of Ecosistema Urbano

The Open Shore vision for the West Palm Beach’s city-owned waterfront land includes the first public bioclimatic domes in the country. Among the features planned are hanging gardens and a Banyan garage, which can be transformed into a mixed-use building with adaptive climates.

Each bioclimatic dome would enclose spaces, also known as plazas. The Cloud Forest Habitat Plaza (hanging gardens), the Aquarium Plaza (local marine flora and fauna), the Mindfulness Plaza (for yoga and meditation) and the Playscape Plaza (a "fun" area for children and adults) are planned.

Fresh Ideas

Ecosistema Urbano described some of its other concepts for the redesign on its website, including:

  • The Great Lawn, which will keep its wide, green esplanade at the center and add a shaded environment around it. Two new plazas will provide an “innovative relation between public space and water,” EU says
  • The Meyer Amphitheater will be revamped and “equipped with a ‘belt’ structure to protect the surroundings from sound and bring complementary leisure and dining activities into the area.” The amphitheater will expand toward the water, “increasing its capacity with a multi-purpose stage that will also become a landmark and reference point for the whole waterfront,” notes EU.
  • Passageways will boast permanent structures and spaces to host new programs. “Walkability, security and comfort will be the first priorities to be addressed by means of active and passive climatic mitigation, new waste disposal and lighting systems,” EU adds.

Ecosistema Urbano will present its plan in June before the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency, which will lay out a timetable for the project and reach out to the community for input. Work could get underway later this year or in early 2018.

   

Tagged categories: Architecture; Contests; Design; Urban Planning

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