Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Current threads....

...and the attempt to tie them up a bit...

I'm currently researching fallout shelters.  "What does this have to do with scaffolding?" you ask?  Well, it could.  So far, I've found surprisingly little information on the official "Community Fallout Shelter Program" established in 1961 under the auspices of the Department of Defense Office of Civil Defense.  But everyone living in NYC is familiar with the fallout shelter signs on many public and private buildings.  How did these spaces come to be designated as such?  And under what specific conditions were private structures to be opened up to public use by all?

The author Margot A. Henriksen, in her book Dr. Strangelove's America (1997), speaks of a time in the U.S. when near hysteria gripped the nation.  She cites a 1961 episode of The Twilight Zone called "The Shelter" as an example.  In this episode, erstwhile friends nearly massacre each other in an attempt to shelter in the only safe place available, the concrete bunker of the neighborhood "sawbones," whose birthday party is the setting interrupted by the bomb scare, and whose disaster preparations had been the subject of ribbing at the aforementioned party only minutes before the mayhem began.  Did no planners consider the mood of the time, which encouraged individual survival strategies over the collective well-being?  I'm really curious to find out what planners envisioned would be the exact sequence of events to have taken place between the announcement of an emergency and the occupation of the basement of a private apartment building.  I've just discovered that my own apartment building is/was a fallout shelter.  Would the residents of my co-op have attempted to repel all neighbors so they could hoard the Federally subsidized supplies that were supposedly stored here?  I mean, we now live in a time when an employee of a big-box store was trampled to death by shoppers eager to "Save money.  Live better."  Was it so different then?

The point is that our government was ostensibly relying upon a network of public and private structures to provide temporary shelter for millions of people across the country.  This formed the basis of a civil defense infrastructure.  Are there other such analogous forms of ad hoc infrastructure?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

exurban sites 3

How might we re-purpose a surplus of lightweight, modular and transient structural systems?

urban site

Where is the boundary between public domain and private infrastructure?