The history of St. Louis is case studies for the infrastructural development of a modern metropolis. In the 1700s, the city expanded extraordinarily with the evolution of transportation technologies through the river and railways. In 1947, comprehensive plans defined the city as a metropolitan structured of the automotive transportation system because St. Louis was the second-largest automotive industry in the United States. This booming industry brought mass constructions of highways in the next couple of decades. However, designed for cars, this infrastructural expansion is intended for vast connections but disconnected the pedestrians and neighborhoods. Zooming into community scale, it is an artificial boundary cutting the city into segments like "islands”, which brings equity, economic and urban renewal challenges.
In order to respond to these problems, Great Rivers Greenway, a locally based government agency in St. Louis proposed The Brick Line Greenway project aimed to establish greenway trails connecting St. Louis landmarks, neighborhoods and communities. The Forest Park Southeast (FPSE) community is an important node located at the starting point of this greenbelt. Adjacent to urban amenities and facilities such as Forest Park and WUSTL medical campus in midtown St. Louis, the community is given a fantastic location in between the proposed greenway and the park. However, split by highway I-64 & I-44 on north & south, it is isolated from all those amenities and limited for pedestrian accessibility. Although a commercial strip “the grove” brings active business and energy to the community, the boundary is deeply invaded and eroded by noise and pollution brought by highway, thus the residential neighborhood is abandoned with rising crime.
Focused on the northwest corner of the FPSE, the Landform Urbanism intends to reconnect the neighborhood by dealing with the relationship of community, highway, park, and university, as well as reactivate the energy by promoting share, prosperity, inclusion, participation, and joy of nature. In this project, a double-layered landscape bridge hovers over the highway and connects the pedestrian and bikers from the neighborhood to the university and the park. The proposal is to explore a new understanding of infrastructure based on the idea of urban landform, which can be the next adaptive co-management direction and solution for a community transportation system. In terms of the scale, the new infrastructure is not a vast connector for cars anymore - it is designed under a localized scale, focusing on neighborhood conditions and designate for short-distance transportation by building human-friendly walking with biking trails and offering related facilities. The landform infrastructure is designed to enhance the idea of a compact community. Parks, arts districts, transit corridors, cultural and educational institutions, public spaces, community business & service are all integrated. The project explores a new understanding of infrastructure, which is not as a transportation system, but as an extension of the landscape, a new form of urbanism.
In 2021, the entire world is facing serious public health challenges of COVID-19, which brings designers to explore new solutions to urban living - what is the safest way to live in a city with mental and physical health of isolation? The landform urbanism infrastructure is designed to increase outdoor activities with social distancing. Under the traditional type of neighborhood, mandatory quarantine cannot last long, but eager and isolated people without limitation can create super spreader events and hot spots in the city. In this case, a community-based composite infrastructure offers a relatively segregated, neighborhood-specific space for residents’ leisure activities while keeping social distance, and the local business will still be able to operate under proper management. Through the compact community concept, the whole city is divided into a series of self-operable communities, and the landform infrastructure is the heart to keep them alive. The social distance open-air movie theaters, farmer’s markets, yoga classes with various mobile kitchens and food stalls make this infrastructure for the community and ability to enjoy safe outdoor events protected by the elements.