On The Boards / Merit
Parks—not pipes. That was the rallying call behind Porchscapes, where a series of water treatment parks is the connective tissue for an entire low-income community. The low-impact development, which received EPA funding, is organized into five smaller neighborhoods, each clustered around a plaza or a landscape system that replaces the conventional retention pond.
The plan borrows from the Dutch idea of a “living street,” which combines walkways, auto courts, and natural-looking bioretention systems with traffic throughways. Facing onto each common area are one-story houses with porches that can be screened or enclosed with storage units. “The porches extend the living area inexpensively and connect these public spaces and the house,” explains project architect Katie Breshears, AIA, LEED AP. The arrangement “creates a better sense of community and starts to develop that ‘I’ll watch your kids if you watch mine’ mentality.”
The judges praised the elegance of the house forms and the innovative site plan. As one succinctly put it, “The strength of the project is that it’s outside in, not inside out.”