Anyone who has been to the Caribbean School of Architecture (CSA) can vividly recall their 9-squares experience … that initial state of bewilderment and confusion as we tried to make sense of the project and come up with a design that portrayed rhythm, symmetry, balance … and all that. Thankfully this particular 9-Square assignment was a little different. As part of the Design Studio, we were required to select three sites in Savannah and express characteristics of the site in three different ways. The categories were ‘Historic Urban Landscapes, Cultural Landscapes, and Sustainable Urbanism. As simple as it sounded, it took weeks to create a board that was not too literal yet not too abstract. The final result being a collage of digital media, watercolor paint, acrylic paint etc.:
Since it may be a bit hard to read, these are the descriptions that went along with the project:
HISTORIC URBAN LANDSCAPE – River Street
Unless one enters from the river front; which decades ago sustained Savanna’s industry, there lies a great ambiguity of what one can expect from the street, especially while walking through the treacherous staircases that once supported a vibrant cotton exchange industry. These voids which are primarily for allowing access to the street are reminiscent of the fact that there is a great disconnect from the other streets and the city at large. As one walks along, it is almost impossible to orient one’s self and the monuments strategically placed along the street have no means of connection to the city. Despite this, River Street’s rich history and use was chosen as a “Historic Urban Landscape” as it exemplified the notion that it is a “historic layering of cultural and natural values and attributes”
CULTURAL LANDSCAPE – Franklin Square
There is a rich cultural history that has created the landscape. Located to the western most side of the grid the eighth square serves as reminder of the long history of African-American slavery and the hardships faced in their quest for freedom. Located across from the First African Baptist Church the square stands as an urban void and is the ground for vagrants, job seekers and occasionally transient tourists who venture through from City Market. Like River Street, there is a disconnection from the rest of the city and also the other squares. It is the only surviving square along Montgomery Street as the other two, Liberty and Elbert, have been deemed as lost.
SUSTAINABLE URBANISM – Davenport House Green Lane
Broughton Lane and Habersham Street “Ecology + Urbanism = Positive Progression” The green lane project is an innovative breakthrough using simple techniques which will ultimately manage storm water with its permeable surfaces, reduce heat gain, promote recycling, conserve energy and provide outdoor spaces conducive to gathering, though you may not immediately identify it or understand what is happening below the surface. As a result, its characteristics are unknown and under-appreciated as the space itself appears to be privatized and not accessible. It has the potential to have more far-reaching effects and raises the question: what if the opportunity for sustainability could be extended; what if ALL the lanes were ‘green’?