Alternative Histories: A Temporal Approach to Public Housing

By Dana Rice |

"One of the most profound changes in the built environment is that of urban renewal projects from the mid twentieth century. In that name of progress many existing low income areas of cities were labeled “blighted” giving policy makers license to wipe clean and start anew. Many public housing projects were erected in this manner. This tabula rasa mentality is a-temporal and neglects the histories and people that existed there before, undermining the ongoing processes of building and rebuilding between people and place. In the case of the new transformation plan for the Sharswood neighborhood of North Philly, the Philadelphia Housing Authority is repeating this common pattern. But Sharswood is far from “blighted”, and the residents have been increasingly reclaiming much of vacant land available in the neighborhood. This project will critique monolithic methods of development and explore ways to leverage this pattern to create a ‘building environment’ that will foster a continual process of becoming for that will provide a sustainable model for the development of affordable housing."

Rice, Dana (2016). Alternative Histories: A Temporal Approach to Public Housing. (Masters Thesis). University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA.