Re-envision Decommissioned Military Sites
Architecture for Humanity has launched [UN] RESTRICTED ACCESS, its 2011 Open Architecture Challenge, which asks landscape architects, architects, and other design professionals to synch up with community groups and develop innovative approaches that reenvision closed, abandoned, or de-commissioned military sites. In fact, designers are required to work with community groups trying to transform these sites of conflict into “civic spaces built for the public good.” Truly a worthy challenge for all landscape architects.
Architecture for Humanity writes: “Dotting the global landscape, decommissioned military installations leave their mark. They are symbols of triumph, pride, pain and the unforeseen consequences of military aggression. These abandoned structures and ghost towns disrupt neighborhoods and split entire communities.” These sites are also environmental nightmares: “In the U.S. alone we will spend billions of dollars of taxpayers funds to do environmental remediation on the 12 millions square feet of US military space scheduled to close this year.”
For this organization, these old bases present amazing opportunities. “Can we re-envision the 750,000+ abandoned bunkers that pepper the Albanian landscape? Is there a second life for the recently bombed Libyan military strongholds? Can we use environmental diplomacy to use re-imagined Guantanamo Bay Detention Center? Is there a way to turn abandoned bases in Afghanistan into places of learning?”
With the exception of Afghanistan, Libya and a few other countries, projects should also be in designers’ ”own backyards.” The idea is to bring local design discipline to these challenges.
Architecture for Humanity is also partnering with Google SketchUp and Google Earth on the project so designers can “present their ideas in the most impressive form no matter their location or economic capacity.”
The first steps in the process involve identifying retired military installations, collaborating with local community groups, and devising plans for transforming spaces so they provide economic, environmental, and social value. Instead of being drains on the community, there should be plans for making these sites productive again.
Entries will be judged by an “international, interdisciplinary panel” of experts in “base realignment processing, real estate and building professionals, former world leaders, and members of communities that have experienced a base closure or demilitarized site. In past competitions, more than 1,200 design concepts came in from 64 countries. Like past competitions, all entries will be freely available through the Open Architecture Network and can be downloaded and plugged in around the world.
Register by March 31, 2012 and submit your entry by May 1, 2012
In other news, the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum is looking for nominations for the 13th annual National Design Awards. Last year, Gustafson Guthrie Nichol took home the landscape architecture design award (see earlier post). Nominate your top landscape architect now.
Image credit: (1) Marine Corps Air Station El Toro / Wikipedia, (2) The Great Park Plan / Orange County Great Park, California
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