SERENDIPITY AND THE CITY
OR THE LOSS OF LOSTNESS
Advisor: Carlos Rueda
Serendipity: The occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.
Modern cities regard transitional space as a means to reaching a destination with a pre-determined goal in mind. In the service of this end, we have come to rely on technology and logistical thinking at the expense of curiosity, critical thinking, and the delightful experience of getting lost while en route. Circulation is often the last element to be considered in a building and is minimized to accommodate “more important” programmatic areas, and yet it is often within spaces of passage that the most serendipitous encounters occur.
I aim to counter this trend by designing a bazaar in which a comprehensive spectrum of goals can be attained within a limited space, thereby merging circulation with a host of experiences that awaken curiosity, exploration, risk-taking, imagination, social integration, mindfulness, and discovery. I will use techniques of scale and proportion, light and shadow, non-orthogonality and inclination to create engaging transitional spaces and to evoke a feeling of “lostness” that shakes our foundations and emboldens us to take risks and to reconsider our priorities.
The site I have chosen surrounds the historic Walker Theatre in downtown Winnipeg and features a collection of oddly shaped lots emerging at the collision of two orthogonal city grids with arteries branching out in all directions. Charged with a history of protest and spectacle, it has the latent potential to reanimate an area that has long been forgotten and relegated to surface parking.
The bazaar is a microcosm of the city itself. In this central location, it has the opportunity to expand in multiple directions, and will address issues relevant to many contemporary cities: encouraging density, promoting the mingling of varied segments of society, and facilitating serendipitous encounters in the public sphere.
Image 1: Collage mapping Alice's journey through Wonderland
Image 2: Reimagined Walker Theatre in the style of Alexander Brodsky's Doll House
Image 3: Site plan showing six pavillions and administrative building
Image 4: Conceptual assemblage of steel frame members and polycarbonate panels
Image 5: Model showing nighttime illumination
Image 6: Collage showing activation of the site in winter