The Odyssey myth serves as the iconic backdrop for an urban investigation in Baltimore, Maryland. “The rosy fingers of dawn,” “weeping and wailing,” and other phrases and words meter the poem and signal quotidian patterns. These cyclical literary devices can be equated to the humdrum repetition of row houses in Baltimore. While The Odyssey is punctuated by events that break the norm, Baltimore lacks an event to differentiate space and break up the homogeny. Water and spatial waste in Baltimore can be exploited as resource by punctuating the urban landscape with a microclimate journey through a story of returning home that is relatable to all.
A taxonomy of enclosure typologies within Baltimore correlate to spaces described in The Odyssey: boat, cave, mountain, coast, forest, and field. A parametrically derived undulating form in a variety of permutations and gradients corresponding to microclimatic and narrative parameters follows a path across the Jones Falls Expressway, invigorating Baltimore with a fantastic mythical immersion from boat to field.
A flexible structural system composed of pipes and prefabricated joints provide the frame to insert panels of various materials.
BOAT is associated with Lotus Eaters, so it inhabits the city as a community greenhouse, becoming a steamy pocket engaging curiosity and enticing people to follow and see what is next. CAVE brings you beneath the Biddle Street Bridge crossing the Jones Falls Expressway, where an added layer both collects harmful runoff and becomes a dark, damp environment ideal for bat habitat, calling to mind Odysseus’ trip to the underworld. MOUNTAIN leaps over a building to make a photovoltaic roof canopy directing water flow into COAST, a street sidewalk and rain garden filtration system enlivening the street and facilitating new community interactions.
COAST turns into an alley and becomes the undulating ground plane from which the FOREST springs, collecting water, treating, and emitting the water through a misting system much as Athena “shrouded Odysseus in a mist to conceal his true form.”
The final destination, home, is a roof collection and irrigation system supporting an agricultural field and market, where the process of cyclical growth occurs in all seasons. Harvested rainwater united under myth invigorates the city and showcases the experiential potentials of water as a catalyst for revitalization.