partner project with Josh Kim

Strip District, Pittsburgh PA

Eco-Machine Living Housing Project

[Professor Dana Cupkova with Matt Huber and Matt Plecity]

Awarded Studio Design Commends

1 | Interior Render

2 | Bridge Render

3 | Strip Entrance Public Landscape Plaza



The strip is a lively, complex, messy atmosphere bursting with people passing through. Its urban fabric supports this linear movement with momentary pauses but its culture and vibrancy inspires the desire to be in its place, rather than simply pass through.

The housing project pushes past a place for its owners to reside and aims for a social connectivity beyond the unit that is intellectually integrated in a system and a form that is both performative and spatial. The site gives back to its neighborhood and the city as a place to be and enjoy.It is an urban riverside park and a new set of lungs for the city to breathe with.

The resulting experience of this system of design for the strip district river site is a unique park for the city that captures the complex, vibrant, messy quality of the strip in a technologically advanced, environmentally adept, rich spatial experience of diversity, integration and connectivity. The system has the ability to adapt and transform over time, on the site, across the strip district, and over a greater city context.


This project site was about 8 city blocks. A parametric and articulated design technique was used to aggregate the program across the large site to achieve the desired spatial and social effect. The circulation script was organized by two systems, existing and imposed human movement, and existing and influenced environmental forces. These were then overlaid together and a parametric script showed the push and pull off of these paths in 2D. This patterning was used to create the form of the project with the four 3D landscape moments imposed on the circulation script to create variation and define spaces.


Landscape Moments



The site condition feeds off the characteristics of the strip in its formal development. The global site organization is derived by existing and projected circulation patterns evolving spatially around social program components and varying geometrically by density. The program pieces are then broken down in a fractal pattern to imply space at various scales and create modules with a similar gradient language of geometric intensity as the overall site form. These modules are further developed at a local scale by an environmental analysis and feedback simulation. The tectonics of this form is a screen that can be controlled through design and use to adapt and transform to specific microclimates across the site. This screen becomes its own Eco machine that is regulated by structure, space, environment, use and logic.



The multi-use program of the project was derived from the context of the strip district. A study of the types of buildings and the character of the place through demographicsarchitectural tectonics and use drivers is represented through the drawing and diagrams below.  





This was a semester long project. The first phase was a site investigation and documentation. The second phase a precedent study of Habitat 67 in Montreal. The third phase a eco-machine study of green roofs and walls. The fourth phase was a unit cluster design followed by a site aggregation. The rest of the semester was spent on a richer development of the project through parametric design and form finding. This project evolved mid-semester as a "box and blanket" system with a housing unit box and a eco-machine blanket. This default design was then pushed away from towards more of an integration between the parts as shown through the screen system and represented in the initial renders. The phase two study of Habitat 67 brought out the flaws of a box unit aggregation of housing and a lack of a strong social space. A background of this combined with the desire to experience the eco-machine system from phase one led to the final iteration presented above.