Land housing explosive fossil fuels in Wickham/Maryville will one day house people, thanks to a group of civic-minded, fiscally savvy visionaries. The spirit of Henry David Thoreau’s cottage in the Walden forest fluoresces amidst industrial artefacts on a site equal to four blocks of the cottages nearby. The result: a vertical village in a post-industrial walled forest garden.
Land locked up for 80 years is cracked open and refreshed. Legion life forms begin to share the place. Flooding, once feared and resisted, is embraced. People of all ages and economic conditions are given a foothold in the city, sharing a long, low residential volume that hovers above the wet ground at the spine of a public park. The alien landscape of giant cylinders against a big sky is reinforced.
The creators’ vision of a life beyond the uptight, short-term outlook of mass-market housing fosters a creative culture whose spirit proves contagious. People can be good for places.