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in an URBAN environment 55% of rainwater becomes pollutant runoff

What if all low lying sites were made into urban beac

beach rain gardens?

It would treat and alleviate problem of storm water runoff

meanwhile adding space for relaxation and play in Asheville

There are 35 NATIVE species of carnivorous plants in North Carolina

What if all XS sites were made into Carnivorous gar

s gardens?

decrease insect population in the area

meanwhile functioning as an educational garden on native NC carnivorous plants

There are approximately 15,000 children under 18 in Asheville.

What if all vacant buildings were transformed by chil

y children with painted tiles?

It would beautify vacant buildings in the city

meanwhile adding creative after school opportunties for the kids.

there are about 500 homeless in Asheville while shelter capacity is aroun

What if all unused sites were made into daytime napping and tempor

around 250

apping stations mporary homeless shelters at night.

It would provide places of rest during the day

meanwhile adding temporary shelter for the homeless at night.

Biodegradeble foam will decompose in 30 days leaving reclaimed land.

What if all parking lots were turned into temporary bio

ry biodegradable foam parks?

It would help easily reclaim the parking lots as usable soil

meanwhile adding fun and exciting temporary parks.

What if all parking lots were turned into solar powere

wered work stations?

It would create cheap additional work spaces for professionals

meanwhile creating an alternative to working from home or a coffee shop

Kudzu covers near 7 million acres in the southeastern United States.

What if you planted kudzu in controlled spots in vacant lots around the city?

Kudzu is currently being used in research to treat alcoholism, research to treat cancer, is a source of protein and can be used in livestock feed, and is

What if Parking Lots could generate electricity with the movement of people and cars?

Piezoelectric plates can generate up to 36 kilowatts per hour with a

If piezoelectric plates were installed in parking lots that had a ment of the plates would create electricity that could then be used to power lights for the parking lots, or reused elsewhere by the city.

What if Parking Lots could provide shelter, power, and water collection?

Solar panels could produce 10 kilowatts per hour provided a good amount of sunlight.

If we covered the parking lots with solar panels, They would produce electricity that could power lights and be reused, as well as provide shade for those underneath negating the heat pockets that are produced by parking lots, as well as gathering rain water for city use.

WHAT IF? Blank walls in Asheville were painted with large-scale murals that the com mu

com munity had input into?


Murals can last anywhere from years and have been shown to increase a sense of unity in communities, as well as raise property values.

In a typical parking lot only

20-40% of spaces are used daily during non-peak hours.

WHAT IF? The spaces in a parking lot were painted over with replicas of


cas of famous paintings?

New and interesting gathering spaces would be created, potentially changing day to day interactions into something extraordinary.

there are

10,336 children

between the ages of 5-18 and an expanding

What if...

ark for childr


onverted to a p arking lot was c

panding art base in the city of Asheville

ith c

k for children w

vided at des

rt supplies pro halk and other a


courage childre

artistically en ignated times to

This would provide a place for children to express themselves as well as continue to add vibrance to the city. It would also be a good way to promote the arts in Asheville.

there is currently


square feet of vacant buildings in Asheville

What if... Vacant buildings were used for art installments for local artists.

This would raise the morale of neighborhoods, reuse the existing, and increase revenue and promote for local artists.

there is a total of


square feet of surface parking lots in the CBD

What if... These parking lots were converted to gathering spaces by covering the lots in porous concrete, planting trees, and providing spaces for food trucks to come and park.

This would help to promote the recent inclusion of food trucks downtown and provide more quality spaces for city residents.

What if secret places were build into the city?

Reality is never enough.

A friend of mine once told me about the “typical dream of a New Yorker,” as he described it, wherein a homeowner pushes aside some coats and sweaters in the upstairs closet... only to reveal a door, and, behind that, another room, and, beyond that, perhaps even a whole new wing secretly attached to the back of the house... And so I was thinking that you could go around with a microphone, asking people who have had that dream to describe it, recording all this, live, for the radio or you ask people who have never had that dream simply to ad lib about what it might be like to discover another room, and you ask them to think about what kind of room they would most like to discover, tucked away inside a closet somewhere in their apartment. What additions to space do the people of New York secretly long for?

Of course, you’d probably need to record about 5000 people to get a dozen or so good stories – but then you’d edit it all down and listen to the unbelievable variations:

secret basements, secret closets inside closets, or even secret children’s playrooms, secret bathrooms, hidden roof gardens, even a brand new 4-car garage plus screened-in porch out back. One guy then a bicycle-repair shop... What does it all mean? So you get all these stories together and you make a radio piece out of it. A month or two later, it’s broadcast during rush hour, on a Friday night, because you want to give people something to think about over the weekend.

But soon commuters are pulling over to the side of the road and staring, shocked, at the radio because you’ve given no introduction, and no one out there has any idea what this is. Some guy found a boathouse attached to his apartment in Manhattan...?, one driver thinks. And the stories keep coming. There’s a skyscraper with a whole momentarily amazed before driving into the car in front of her. A woman on the Upper East Side found what? Or: All along he had a basketball court behind the bedroom wall?

But then the credits roll, and the radio station cuts to commercial, and everyone realizes that those were all just stories. Dreams. There are no secret rooms they think. So they pull back onto the highways – and you go down in radio history. Within two weeks you’ve signed a turn it into a book, and Paul Auster volunteers to write the forward. You call it: The Undiscovered Bedrooms of Manhattan. It gets accidentally shelved with Erotica. People cry as they read it.

It’s mass hysteria. Where are all these secret rooms? People want to know. And why don’t I have one...? Manhattanites are knocking on walls, taking measurements. draft letters to the rent control board. Excerpt from BLDG BLOG

What if structural foundations were built for future development? Site work and foundation laying are the phases of construction most susceptible to delay.

What if vacant buildings were used as places of meditation, prayer, or rest. Are there any places of calm in the city? Its inhabitants are bombarded by noise and mounting stress.

“According to a study conducted in 2009,


of the popu

W c

the population in the united states uses the internet on a regular basis.�

What if outdoor internet cafes were implemented throughout the city in areas too small for anything else?

Outdoor internet cafes would be a great way to make use of spaces, such as small alleys, t who still need to keep up with the digital world, and it could even encourage more people to ventu weather-proof computers to use for free that could be built into the wall for protection such as a bank puter or the internet in their home, or even someone needing to find quick information on-the-go.

alleys, that are just too small for anything else. These locations would be a great spot for pedestrians e to venture outdoors and walk around the city as opposed to driving. Maybe the cafe could even include s a bank atm machine. This would be a great resource for someone who does not have access to a comgo.

“Switching to driving an electric car saves the average driv

W s

age driver over


in fuel costs each year.�

What if parking lots could serve a double purpose as charging stations for electric cars?

With the increased use of both electric and hybrid electric cars, the implementation of power stations on the top level of parking garages for these cars would be beneficial and encouraging to many drivers. If a driver knew they would never have to worry about not having a place to charge their car while at work or away from home, many drivers would feel more comfortable purchasing an electric or semi-electric car. This would also increase the use of the top level of parking garages that often goes unused.

“According to the FDA,


of all produce sold in the United

What if spaces that are rarely used to their full potential could be turned into a farmers market during the rest of the time?

he United States is imported from other countries around the world.�


Places such as community building and church parking lots are vacant for a good majority of the week. However, they are used to the maximum capacity a couple times a week, so removing them would not be a good option. In places like this a farmers market could be implemented during the parking lot’s downtime to bring people to a different part of the city while also encouraging local business and farmers. This could be done on a large scale and be a very low-cost option.

Emotional release lowers cholesteral and relieves anxie


Work breaks activities imporve

health and productivity by 40%

What if productivity was reinforced by play?


consumes an average of 13,000 watts per hour

The average person can

produce about 200 watts per hour

What if a quick workout could power a city?

What if a entire block’s value was increased by converting vacancies into co

There are 198 small 2D vacant areas in the Central Business District.

to community gardens?

A block with a vacant lot can maximize the value of every parcel in the block by sharing the vacant lot. Through a community garden purchasing program, unbuilt land can be preserved, local food encouraged, and a block unified with a central gathering space. Neighborhoods can informally be brought together through sharing in gardening and harvesting and eating, while surrounding retailers benefit from increased traffic. With 198 small 2D vacant areas in the Central Business District, Asheville could create a network of urban oases that connect neighborhoods and enrich the quality of the city.

There is 403,465 square feet of partially vacant buildings in the CBD.

What if all upper story vacancies were converted to af

to affordable housing through volunteer labor?

Habitat for Humanity builds single family homes of less that 1.050 square feet of living space. What if Asheville began a program that used existing building shells to house workers in need of affordable, decent housing in downtown through volunteer labor? The average Habitat for Humanity house in Asheville costs approximately $30,000 less than the fair market value. By utilizing existing buildings this price would go down even more and provide a downtown location not possible when building from scratch. Furthermore, when the community volunteers for construction, it deepens Asheville’s sense of unity.

More than 30% of workers describe themselves as

What if stress could be eliminated in the cit

lves as being under stress because of work often.

he city through opportunities to gaze up?

82% of the general population have experienced the beauty of nature in a deeply moving way. 49% felt this had a lasting impact. As vacant land is built on and occupied, what if we simply reserved small patches of land for stressed Asheville citizens to find a meaningful moment in the awe of the sky? These heaven gazing opportunities could encourage getting horizontal through the landscape, hardscape recliners or mats, or even city-spread signs suggesting to LOOK UP.

In North Carolina, there are at least 469 SPECIES of birds. 5 are ENDANGERED.

All need protecting.

What If: AVIARIES were built as havens throughout the city?

Only about 25% of ORIGINAL US FOREST COVER remains undisturbed by human activities.


What If: the FOREST was in the city?

In 1958, North Carolina had 209 drive-in theaters. Since 2007, ONLY 7 REMAIN.

What If: Parking Lots doubled as drive-in THEATERS?

If FACEBOOK were a country, it would be the world’s 3rd largest and twice the size

of the US.

What If: people could EXPRESS THEMSELVES to the city, through the city?


Design scenarios for Asheville NC's urban vacant land.