VeloCity: Mapping Houston on the Diagonal Peter Muessig, Rice University School of Architecture,
Jury Sound Bites: this was done in such a way that it took it beyond stacked containers and basic housing to something more ... beyond just stacking them up and stuffing people inside of them ... it creates a very uplifting place to be in contrast to some of the options for workers in the oil field ... apparently the workers have a rough life and can use that
Ours was at least the second jury to recognize the merits of this bold idea for elevating the bicycle culture of Houston (see Texas Architect, May/ June, 2012). The concept in designer and bicycle enthusiast Peter Muessig’s own words: “Do not mistake the bicycle as a symbol of hardship or compromise. It is a liberation. An unacknowledged extension of our American ideals. The embodiment of individual will and imagination in a simple machine. The distinct mobility and perception experienced in motion differentiate the cyclist’s city from the institutionalized urban experiences of the driver or pedestrian. For the cyclist a new map of the city emerges. Constructed not of grids, but the improvisation and judgment required to inhabit the diagonal landscape. The diagonal cannot be fabricated or constructed. It emerges through the use and appropriation of space. A responsive architecture must both support the needs of the cyclist and challenge their unique spatiality. This project proposes a velo-duct, a landscape recasting the bicycle as the primary means of accessing and experiencing the city. Spatial interventions occupy the urban scraps discarded by a carcentric society. Drafting off the shadows cast by vehicular habitation, a social infrastructure emerges that elevates the presence of bicycle culture in Houston. The velo-duct is composed of a canopy structure providing cyclists with a traversable surface across the myriad of vehicu-
lar shadows. It threads along Buffalo Bayou into Downtown Houston, ultimately landing in the public plaza in front of City Hall. The structure of the velo-duct can act as a stand alone system or graft onto the structures of existing buildings and infrastructure. This reaffirms the desire to simultaneously create new spatial experiences and recast old ones from a new perspective astride a bicycle.” Jury Sound Bites: the most compelling notion was how you engage this left-over space in the city ... more than just the notion of bikes ... how do you take discarded infrastructure as wasteland and weave it into the fabric of everyday life ... an avenue from the suburbs to downtown is very intriguing ... the idea of clamping onto existing structure seems like a good idea
Texas Architect 23
Published on Nov 6, 2012
This issue on the theme of “Redevelopment” exploits the multiple dimensions of the term, which routinely implies not only physical change, b...