For decades, the metropolitan area of Phoenix has been growing faster than that of any other city in the United States.
The result is a 1300 km2 oil stain, resulting from detached housing development around golf courses, which spills over onto the plains of the Sonora desert. In Phoenix it is understood that the vastness of the desert is there to be occupied by a low-density residential fabric, which has led to a vast sprawling city.
The urban structure repeats the patterns of the majority of US cities: the historic downtown area has specialized in business and is surrounded by a highway belt allowing the workers to abandon the area in the evening. Amidst the skyscrapers and expressways there exists a conglomerate of empty lots, large car parking areas and low quality dwellings.
The PRD845 project is framed within growing awareness to the environmental and social consequences of unlimited urban sprawl and makes use of the land of a former car park only two km from the centre. Three building strips house a total of 12 business/dwelling units of 90 to 220 m2. Between them two strips of free space organise vehicular and pedestrian access.
Studio Ma PRD845 777 W Roosevelt St Phoenix, Arizona, United States 2007
The Roosevelt Street neighbourhood is a run-down area from the early 20th Century, with small houses and bungalows for working-class people. Many of the houses are uninhabited and the lots have gone empty
In the areas near downtown large apartment blocks have been built, but there is no intermediate scale. The project occupies exactly this seldom seen sphere of medium-size interventions
The three strips offer a cut-off profile with terraces from which the downtown skyscrapers and the desert mountains can be seen
The space between the strips of housing belongs to the community, but is accessible to any pedestrian. The parking areas and the entrances can be found here. The buildings are pierced by passageways which allow one to cross the lot
The exterior covering of the facade has been carried out with coloured fibre-cement panels which are set away from the wall to allow the warm air to escape via openings existing at the upper level
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