What if you think of Fair Park not just as a park but a living organism? Perhaps akin to a single celled creature living within, off of, and contributing to a much larger ecosystem? That’s what team “Symbiotic Membrane” did and the results are nothing short of extraordinary. Team members include Bogdana Frunza (Atlanta Office – Healthcare), Stephen Szutenbach (Orlando Office – Commercial), Mary Ferrer (Dallas Office – Healthcare), and Edwin Croix (Texas Tech University Student – Architecture). Here’s what they had to say:
PREAMBLE: isolation from surroundings: the border is an opaque container
Despite its proximity to Dallas’ urban core and its adjacency to residential neighborhoods, Fair Park functions in isolation, and lacks constant connection to the surrounding environment. The park is used occasionally during concerts, sports events, and the annual State Fair; outside of these events its grounds remain mostly unused throughout the year. The border of the park acts as an opaque container, appearing inaccessible to both the habitual and the occasional user.
THESIS: the border as a cell membrane: potential site for symbiosis
The border is the key element in establishing a symbiotic relationship between the Park and the larger environment. Seen as a cell membrane, the border has the potential to promote, create, and maintain the exchange of flows [activities, humans, goods, money, energy, etc.] between the park and the city.
STRATEGY: symbiosis through complementarity
The border/cell membrane becomes a fertile ground for implanting seeds of specific activities that will initiate symbiosis. These activities will be in a relationship of complementarity with existing functions in the adjacent neighborhood [ex: a school situated in close proximity to the park will lead to placing an after school activity node within the membrane].
Membrane morphology: POINTS + SURFACES
Within the membrane, activities are hosted by points [organizing systems that allow the vertical concentration of functions] and surfaces [organizing systems that allow the dispersal of functions at ground level]; as magnets of activities complementary to the neighborhood, the points and the surfaces begin to develop activities complementary to each other [ex: if one point hosts a bicycle rental activity, another point will host a bicycle repair shop].
SYMBIOSIS CONT’D: future projections
The 2036 State Fair Park Anniversary will be a testing ground for new strategies of densification of living and local production of energy and goods. Amidst the acute need for alternative energy, the points and the surfaces will be showcases for the new paradigm of urban living: inhabiting a dense eco-system.
As the future unfolds and the symbiosis continues, the existing park buildings will develop into integrated systems of living and production. The park as a whole will become an eco-system, and a prototype for living in close connection to the larger environment.