WPA 2.0

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Register deadline: July 24, 2009 / Submit deadline: August 7, 2009
Student Edition Register deadline : October 16, 2009 Submit deadline: November 2, 2009

WPA 2.0 “Whoever Rules the Sewers Rules the City”

Paraphrasing the earlier WPA (Works Progress Administration) of 1939, this WPA (Working Public Architecture) is seeking to exploit the potential of the infrastructure investments of the Obama administration as a opportunity to exhibit the power of architecture’s imagination is applicable to more than generating icons. Architects are called upon to take back the streets, to apply their architectural intelligence beyond the traditional boundaries of their discipline.

cityLAB, an urban think tank at UCLA’s Department of Architecture and Urban Design, announces a call for entries to “WPA 2.0: Working Public Architecture.” WPA 2.0 is an open competition that seeks innovative, implementable proposals to place infrastructure at the heart of rebuilding our cities during this next era of metropolitan recovery. WPA 2.0 recalls the Depression-era Works Projects Administration (1935-43), which built public buildings, parks, bridges, and roads across the nation as an investment in the future—one that has, in turn, become a lasting legacy. We encourage projects that explore the value of infrastructure not only as an engineering endeavor, but as a robust design opportunity to strengthen communities and revitalize cities. Unlike the previous era, the next generation of such projects will require surgical integration into the existing urban fabric, and will work by intentionally linking systems of points, lines and landscapes; hybridizing economies with ecologies; and overlapping architecture with planning. This notion of infrastructural systems is intentionally broad, including but not limited to parks, schools, open space, vehicle storage, sewers, roads, transportation, storm water, waste, food systems, recreation, local economies, ‘green’ infrastructure, fire prevention, markets, landfills, energy-generating facilities, cemeteries, and smart utilities.

Beyond the mere replacement of obsolete or overtaxed infrastructure, WPA 2.0 seeks design ideas that exploit the opportunity for such solutions to be leveraged, through nested scales of thinking, into strategies that catalyze a larger and more visible public benefit. In this respect, it is looking for proposals that put architecture back to work through designs that:

– are embedded with added value (multifunctionality, imageability, public presence),
– represent potential prototypes, adaptable for use in numerous locations,
– are locally self-regulated and controlled (i.e. which “unlock” the grid),
– strategically attract investment and/or generate community stability, and
– generate new sustainability practices.

The full brief for the competition can be found on the WPA 2.0 website, and to get your brain up and running on the vast realm the competition is engaged with check their infrastructure matrix, reference projects and resources.