For this project, students were tasked with constructing a playground in the middle of a vast New Haven parking lot. The project’s first half required extensive study of the site through archival research. Allegories of the site’s history were then designed through collage and other methods, speaking to a specific concept or experience of the parking lot. Students then developed these allegories into proposals for full scale installations.

This project began by considering the parking lot as a place of memory rather than clearing. Buried below all the asphalt are layers of culture, marked by the fossils of buildings and businesses that are no longer there. Forming a sort of geological stratigraphy, this material history then invokes a sense of depth and time at the site. My concept for a playground uses this notion of depth, earth, and time to create a new landscape that shifts earth to get down below the city pavement. With the support of 12 retaining walls, topography is pushed around the site, creating a rolling set of hills that descend into a basin in the middle of the lot. Carved into the resulting mound is a pavilion space that acts as theater and stoop. The experience of walking, or running, amongst the walls creates a new understanding of the city and encourages the visitor to engage critically with the land below the pavements they traverse.

Early Site Concept