Protean Prototypes: Developing Access-Enabling Infrastructures for Chicagoland
Geoffrey Thün, Kathy Velikov, Dan McTavish, Sue Zielinski
This design-research proposal simultaneously interrogates two species of urban problems related to infrastructure and public use of the city: fragmentation and access. The project utilizes urban cartographic and network analysis techniques to expose the geographies, processes and spatial politics rendered manifest by the physical infrastructures of mobility. Workshops with local publics assist to illuminate data driven studies to identify programs, needs and scenarios to which access is inadequate for the constituents resident within these territories. A series of prototypical and catalytic design interventions, developed at multiple scales and time frames, enable social access to civic and social amenities within the space of mobility infrastructure. While much academic research has been undertaken to examine the questions assembled through this project by disciplines ranging from transportation planning, to sociology and cultural geography, there is little design-research that has been undertaken in service of developing plausible responses that address the social demand for access. As the conditions of fragmentation and access are a central concern within contemporary cities globally, the specific work situated in the metropolis of Chicago is intended to develop methods and concepts transferrable to other urban contexts.