#3rdPrizeWinner #EnvironmentalHealthEquityAward #PittsburghPlatformCompetition #ENGINEERED-TIMBER CIVIC REALM FOR POST-PANDEMIC WELL-BEING

Jury Comments:"Appreciated the concept for a bottom-up timber economy and even so possibilities for application to other monocultures. The concept or a forestry-focused cooperative is interesting and can certainly be developed further"

The proposal mitigates the environmental and socio-economic pressures that a disruptive event like a pandemic poses on the urban setting and its inhabitants through transforming marginalized and vacant land to civic space amenities for immediate support of the community’s health and wellbeing in times of crisis while keeping the economy alive by placing shared forest-plant based economic strategies on the spotlight as the main drivers for low impact environmental growth, self-sufficiency, access to resources or goods otherwise in scarcity in times of crisis. More specifically, the project aims to repurpose 2000 acres of underperforming and marginalized land for shared timber farming in order to enact a more adequate synergistic relationship (socio-economically and environmentally) between the built space and the fragmented Hudson Valley’s forest.

In Hudson Valley, most of the trees are privately owned, growing on land at the fringe of urban development- Wildland Urban Intermix (WUI). Hudson Valley’s Wildland-Urban Intermix land is currently environmentally and economically underperforming. It demonstrates the typical unsustainable conditions present in contemporary rural American towns: large-scale impervious surfaces that fragment the regional forest corridors, defunct industrial, commercial, and transportation infrastructure that demands innovative schemes for sustainable vegetative strategies and green infrastructure as well as hyperactive development potential on the near future that threatens the biodiversity of the remaining Greenfields, tree-covered areas and accessible open green public spaces that are already significantly shrunk and ecologically undervalued due to the unregulated urban sprawl of the last decades.

The major economic engines of Hudson Valley-traditional building materials and farming- are currently unsustainable under the current context of Climate Change and for this project, these economies are acknowledged as already obsolete. Following this urgent need for climate-responsive economic reform and taking into consideration the 2018 Timber Innovation Act and the forthcoming 2021 IBC Engineered Timber update that both harness the potential of mass timber building elements manufacturing from sustainable-managed-forests as a viable option for reducing the built space’s impact on the environment in the years to come, this project investigates the utilization of timber farming as a catalyst for environmentally and socio-economically beneficial civic space design.

Tackling the large-scale U.S. monopoly of engineered-timber products, the project envisions a bottom-up timber economy- a vertically integrated, resilient timber supply chain- as a way to incentivize private landowners to sustainably manage their own forests while directly accessing a shared infrastructure of researching, harvesting, manufacturing, and retail, waste-recycling, and branding for their timber product. By creating a shared collaborative infrastructure for local forest and small-timber-business owners and entrepreneurs, new social partnerships and equally-distributed amenities will be created, boosting local economies while preserving the local and regional forest ecologies.

By sustaining long-term forest-plant-based economic development through this shared co-op system, Hudson Valley’s scaled-down timber industry will be funneled while a more socially adequate distribution of profits between diverse communities will be achieved. Composed by four entities, the Center for Resilient Forestry which is clustered with Wood Innovation Facilities, the Certification Centers, the Sawmill and Distribution Center with additional facilities for Recycling and Storage and Renewable Energy Generation, this project provides a lasting infrastructure that promotes a holistic framework for profitable and sustainable timber agroforestry that ensures the wellbeing of both the forest and its inhabitants.

#EnvironmentalHealthEquityAward

#3rdWinner 

#PittsburghPlatformCompetition2020

#EngineeredTimber 

#HudsonValleyUrbanFringe 

#PostPandemicWellbeing 

#columbiauniversity 

#Menghan Zhang

#Tian Hao

#Kuan-I-Wu

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