Date of Award

Spring 6-4-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA)


Landscape Architecture

First Advisor

Nick De Pace

Second Advisor

Colgate Searle


Scaffolding has been used as a tool to remove, construct, or repair city infrastructure. It can also be conceived as a metaphor for city development and its continuing renovation. Scaffolding in New York City has become an urban problem because it is structurally unsafe, and the darkness it brings to the street is a perceived threat to the sidewalk commons. It makes the sidewalk become a negative space in between the building and the street and the street edge is less identifiable. These negative experiences cause walking on the street to be less comfortable.

Cities are in continuous transformation, both in terms of their infrastructure and their urban ecosystems. This thesis regards scaffolding as a tool for repairing the ecosystem in the city and providing an opportunity for plant succession in highly congested urban environments. In the larger urban system, the proposed scaffolding is defined as an “Urban Vine”: a part of the streetscape moving across neighborhoods throughout Manhattan; a megastructure utilizing dynamic modules to create an adaptive system that supports the succession of the ecosystem in the city, free to move and grow across different locations. The “Urban Vine” aims to increase the percentage of sustainable green surfaces while working as a living organism in the city’s fabric.

This thesis discusses the scaffolding’s ephemeral existence at the individual scale and its more permanent character as a system at the urban scale. The study investigates how the Urban Vine utilizes the city’s infrastructure as a parasitic structure that, at the same time, is also symbiotic with the city. How can it allow a creative opportunity for citizens to move through the city and finally lead to meaningful social, cultural, and ecological outcomes?


View exhibition online: Shuyi Guan, Urban Vine



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