Date of Award
Master in Interior Architecture [Adaptive Reuse]
When an urban college campus is open to the surrounding community, students benefit from a closer engagement with the resources of the city: entertainment, markets, living arrangements, more cultural and professional experience. At the same time, local residents enjoy a stronger regional economy from all of the people attracted to study or work on campus, allowing closer contact for locals with the world beyond the boundaries of their own city.
Though it is clear how valuable communal engagement is to urban life, we live in a society obsessed with separation. The near-universal practice of extruding backyard parcel lines has created architectural division, namely the fence, closing off the yard from the block and the block from the neighborhood. This thesis proposes an alternative scenario, in which the line between public and campus community will be blurred.
This blurred line will be investigated in the relationship between the Rhode Island School of Design and downtown Providence, which is currently a mix of urban campus environments. Students neither have sufficient place to socialize within the campus, nor enough contact the with local community. Near the center of the RISD campus, the one block radius of the RISD Museum is surrounded by the city of Providence, but enclosed by College Hill and a concentration of RISD buildings. For this reason, the public areas nestled in the dense block are mostly used by RISD students. These spaces should be used by both RISD students and residents of Providence.
It is necessary to explore how spaces in an urban campus that is open to the public can have an important role for students and local residents. By blurring RISD’s “enclosed backyard” and adding attractive recreational and cultural events open to the public in these spaces, the spirit and identity of the campus is promoted to create an urban connection between campus and city, students and residents. The main intervention will explore an “inside-out” relationship, by developing a new grid system based on the existing various levels of the RISD Museum block and a refined plan arrangement revealing implied connections between buildings. The system is partially exposed to draw in residents of Providence, while the rest grows within the building resulting in a closer relationship between interior and exterior, bringing both user groups into closer contact without fences.
Qiu, Chun, "Into the open : blurring building fences" (2017). Masters Theses. 169.
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