The new incrementalism
The latest design trend appears to be designing a place to be realized in very gradual stages. Not in terms of planning for phases of development pods, built-out in a predetermined sequence, but about individual lots changing — evolving — over time. Very rarely now are we designing to build immediately for a project’s absolute highest and best use or, as Nathan Norris calls it, its “climax condition.” This new incrementalism focuses on how lots change — how they’re built upon and reconfigured over time before, ahem, reaching their climax.
I see this slow urbanism as having three typologies, based on time, from less permanent to more permanent structures:
1. Blow-up architecture: A movable, removable or deflatable architecture that is the most temporary of any building type. While it may last too many years for its neighbors, the tent, mobile trailer, and inflatable jumpy are easily put up and removed with very little regard for site preparation, such as grading, and utilities beyond an extension cord. Portland, Oregon’s Mississippi Avenue Market Place is a favorite of John Anderson, of Anderson+Kim in Chico, California. Tom Weigle of TownMakers has built a successful business model around his temporary Market Hall project first set up in Hercules, California.”
Photo: Market Hall (Image courtesy of Tom Weigel)