Lead by Professor Neil Denari
The 2008-09 version of SUPRASTUIO, Megavoids, led by Professor Neil Denari has endeavored to bring two of the main issues facing cities today to the forefront of architectural study at UCLA: future urbanism and sustainability. Neil Denari with Chris Hostetter of Toyota Motor Sales (TMS) U.S.A. and their students present the results of their study here, played out as six projects for five extremely large unoccupied sites around the greater Los Angeles area. Long considered to be beyond the realm of designers and architects, large-scale urban projects are now a very real medium of consideration as substantial developments have been both marketed and built, particularly in Asia and the Middle East. With a dizzying array of architectural styles and urban planning techniques, these projects are optimistic in scale and effect, but they also offer up cautionary tales of over design whose very ambition to impress has often been the catastrophic element in the equation. With a more innovative approach in mind, it is not so much a new sobriety needed to counteract the darker side of mega development so much as it is about thinking more logically about future trends and new lifestyles that will emerge in the next 30 years.
It is the temptation to think big that has initiated our study here, played out as six projects for five extremely large unoccupied sites around the greater Los Angeles area. Somewhere between the incremental growth over 30 years and the possibility of more “instant city” landscapes that could occur during that timeframe, we are projecting our projects to be conceived by 2030-2040.
In order to carry out such expansive and to a certain extent, unique inquiries, UCLA has partnered with the Toyota Motor Sales Inc. and their Advanced Product Strategies group working out of the national headquarters in Torrance, California. Megavoids has been catalyzed by ongoing research being produced by this group. Led by Chris Hostetter, one of the most forward thinking people in sustainable automobile design, the Toyota concept department has investigated the designs of micro cars, micro cars with specially designed compartments for bicycles and Segway’s, and their new dimensional implications in the infrastructural environment.
These innovative proposals are part of Toyota’s “Last Mile Problem”, a program that attempts to orchestrate incrementally smaller scales / modes of transportation across larger networks that still rely on conventionally scaled systems of freeways, boulevards, etc. The Megavoids SUPRASTUDIO worked directly with this team of experts as both client and collaborator to rethink issues of density, autonomy, fluidity, fractalization, building typology and organization (including detailed analysis of façade performance and structural economies) as they pertain to architectural urbanism. The publication includes essays by Neil Denari, Stephen Deters, Chris Hostetter, and Jeffrey Inaba along with a selection of MEGAVOID site photos by Los Angeles photographer Benny Chan.
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