- Words by Alison Brooks
Alison Brooks completed her Master’s degree in architecture at the University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, in 1988.
Drawing on local car culture, a local tradition of machine workshops and thriving athletics, her final year thesis, ‘Urban Renewal Re-vision’ uses a north-south ‘strip’ boulevard to reconnect a series of new and existing streets, outdoor recreational parks, sports pitches and institutions. Empty cruciform blocks are reconfigured as crescents, or urban spectators framing new recreational landscapes.
At each new crossroad, a Hybrid Strip Mall is a prototype for the strategic re-inhabitation of the neighbourhood. It is a cross between a suburban strip mall, American shotgun houses, workshops and a residential perimeter block. An inner courtyard serves the industrial/commercial strip mall and is a gathering space for residents, a communal focus for back lane culture. The mixed-use enclave becomes a catalyst for reconstructing a complex neighbourhood culture in the territory of the abandoned project.