Urban Revitalization through Resilient Infrastructure

Presenter: Jessica Wilcock

Research Category: Humanities and Arts
Student Type: Graduate
Faculty Advisor: Jessica Wilcock
Award Winner Category: Humanities and Arts

Weakened by a global recession, many urban areas face an uncertain future of dereliction and disrepair. Conventional wisdom maintains that new infrastructure spending will create jobs, stimulate growth, and revitalize our cities. However, in an age defined by austerity and an overabundance of costly, inflexible infrastructures, expensive new construction projects are no longer viable. As we grapple with the new economic reality, no longer can we ask what more do we need, but rather how can we better use what we already have? æThe manipulation of existing infrastructure has the potential to rehabilitate urban environments, making them more dynamic, resilient, and sustainable. My research explores the detrimental effects of overbuilding in the Algarve region of Portugal. This coastal region has suffered from massive, speculative infrastructure projects, which have gone under- or unutilized at a large expense. In an effort to initiate urban rehabilitation, my research proposes to use the AlgarveÍs overbuilt and underutilized maritime infrastructures as new ferry stops. A new ferry network would expand the regionÍs transit system in a manner that is more cost-efficient and flexible than highway or rail extensions. æIf we can begin to find potentials in our infrastructures to serve multiple purposes, we can build a future that is inherently more economically, socially and environmentally resilient.