Motion and Emotion, Urban Dwelling in New Orleans

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Date
2006-08-10
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Virginia Tech
Abstract

This thesis brings forth the regional architecture of New Orleans, Louisiana, and applies it directly towards the reconstruction and reconstitution of the Lafitte Housing Project closed as a result of Hurricane Katrina in late August 2005. The half-mile long Lafitte Housing Project rests just outside the French Quarter in the Sixth Ward.

This thesis proposes reopening the canal along Jefferson Davis Parkway and extending it into the French Quarter to the southern edge of Louis Armstrong Park. As many of the former apartments were damaged by flooding from Hurricane Katrina, some units will be demolished to make way for site changes.

A problematic condition of the former public housing complex was the way that it stood within the site as a massive homogenous entity, far out of scale to the surrounding urban fabric. The solution to rebuilding the site is not to construct another massive housing community. Rather, this proposal would include restoring many of the existing units, providing a historic anchor to the new neighborhood, and allowing them to remain along with new construction.

Earth removed from the canal will stay on the site and be used to construct a half-mile long mound, running most of the length of the projects. This mounded area will feature spaces for recreational activities, Marti Gras celebrations, relaxation, and it will allow bridged access to the second floors of the new buildings. More important than what the mound does, is what it is: a metaphor for rising up from the mud and water and towards an elevated way of living, for inhabitants of the new and old structures.

The vehicle for the form and structure of the new dwelling units is the historic Foursquare house. A house that symbolizes aristocracy and well-being, these new units are a refinement of the two bedroom apartments in the existing public housing complex. In this proposal, both will coexist throughout the site.

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Keywords
public housing, new orleans, hurricane katrina, representation, canal, cube, housing project, window, door, porch, foursquare
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