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Re-constructing through Dis-assembling

Newark, NJ

Introduction to urban design, MIT 2014


Instructor: Rafi Segal



“Cities emerge and then pass away. They give an impression of duration and security, and yet without question they are in a constant process of being reshaped and will one day disappear again.”

(Kai Vockler)[1]


The project deals with the question of city’s boundary as an agent of change and transformation. Is the urban form and the city of Newark depend on its municipal boundary? And how exploring it’s disassemble will invoke regeneration?


The city grew and expanded its boundaries, but it did not contracted when the population decreased. The juxtaposition of infrastructure created unrelated layers in the urban fabric.

The layers are divided by association and usage: linear - the urban fabrics that are active without using the city as anchor, destination – the active business core and airport – self-sufficient attractors and transportation hubs and the layer of vacancies – parts of the city that obtain more than 16% of vacant housing units. Those are the layers subtracted from the city’s boundary, the active linear and core will stay in place and the areas with high vacancies will become more depopulated with time[2].


In order to invoke regeneration, the city needs to readjust its scope; give away organs and reassemble the existing. The objective is to optimize the relation between the urban boundaries in the structural fabric and the municipal boundary, through the mending of those fabrics. The system behind the process of disassembly is constructed with 4 tactics (that can occur in different sequence and timing): recognizing the possible independent parts, mapping the island part that can belong to other systems, parametric reassignment to neighbor cities and reconstruction of the enclave.

For the last stage, the regeneration will occur with the use of vacant spaces and the restoration of the walkable historical grid and city form, first with to axial street and with branches that evolve from them.


[1] “Robert Smithson and the architecture of absence”, p.114, Kai Vockler, Shrinking Cities vol.2,
Published by Hatje Cantz Verlag 2006


[2] Regenerating America’s Legacy Cities, P. 28, Alan Mallach and Lavea Brachman, Policy Focus Report, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy 2013

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