The Dogtown Dish is proud to announce a new column we are calling: Dish by Design. The column will focus on design and artistic subjects as it pertains to Manchester. Our hope is it will be a place where we can conceptually think about the community in a cohesive way through design. Our desire is only to plant an urban seed and watch it grow through the eyes of Manchester, not to dictate a final answer.
Manchester RVA has an awesome opportunity to create an image for itself that speaks to the area and the people that live and work here. Coming from a design background, my interests lie in the architecture, community, experience, artistic expression, and natural environment. We should not only preserve what is here as much as possible, but also create opportunities to be progressive in the ways that bring new life to the area.
The groundwork for laying the foundation has already started. We need to be steadfast and smart, while taking initiative to keep the momentum going. We should shore up and preserve the building fabric that is already here, but fill the holes with progressively modern buildings that are respectful of the past. We must breathe artistic life into the community, while staying in tune to the natural environment.
We need spaces that bring us closer to nature. We subconsciously seek out the natural environment and Manchester is ripe for this opportunity. Not only with the James River nearby, but in multiple ways that relate to nature where natural expression can take shape within Manchester itself.
As cities have grown, there has been a loss of the natural environment. Building upon building…asphalt parking lots…the concrete jungle as a whole has taken over. Let’s be mindful of this when we’re designing for Manchester and the experience. We need to be in-tune with nature and the forms of artistic expression where we work, live, and play.
For instance, areas such as High Line Park in New York City are a prime example of natural awareness. Hi Line is a former elevated railroad that has been redesigned and transformed into an “aerial greenway.” Creating this park has actually spurred development in the surrounding area. We need that for Manchester as well. Maybe not in the form of a High Line (or Low Line down by the James), but we need to make sure areas of respite are executed in a way that brings life to the community.
One way that may not seem obvious is potentially populating Hull Street with “parklets” also known as sidewalk gardens. These parklets create moments in which people stop to congregate in an area that was typically being used as parking spaces. They can be used in many capacities: as a natural setting to sit and contemplate, outdoor seating for retail/restaurants, or artistic expression. They can be whatever we want them to be. The upside is not only bringing the natural environment to the area, but also an opportunity to really showcase Hull Street and give it the unique opportunity it deserves for all to experience.
Hull Street was once a thriving area that needs our immediate attention. Let’s breathe new life into this evolving neighborhood and create something unique together.