Urban Voids – Grounds for Change was organised in 2005 by the Van Alen Institute in New York. The International ideas competition concerned the regeneration and ecological design of urban void spaces in the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. The proposed scheme focused on the rigid urban grid of the American city, which ultimately led to sprawl without concern for the natural topography and geology. We saw in the urban voids of Philadelphia the potential to reinstate the natural as a new ‘wave’ of ecological infrastructure, proposing that the voids are left to be eventually completely re-occupied by nature; thus, the rich waterbed underneath Philadelphia’s surface would re-emerge.
Inspired by Felix Guattari’s The Three Ecologies, we anticipated that in these meanwhile community spaces would trigger programmatic activities, or ‘activity vistas’, developping alongside nature, so that the voids would reflect the true ecology of a city: uniqueness, subjectivity and creativity.