Woburn, USA


Design in collaboration with: Nigel Zhang

Can suburban areas be denser? Can we imagine new ways to engage with the natural landscape? Is it possible to bring urban vitality to suburban areas while increasing its relationship with nature?

In concept, American suburbs were supposed to be developed immerse in nature, but they ended up being generic and isolated solutions of single housing models. Neighborhoods with strong car dependency, minimum public space and few possibilities of interaction between people. On the other side, city models offer compact configurations, density and diversity but a limited contact with nature.

The project aims to design a proposal unlike a typical suburban plan. The scheme explores the reconsolidation of suburban density by heighten the contrast of the experience between the built environment and nature. The site is located in Woburn, a suburban area of Boston, Massachusetts. It already has good connectivity with the region and an incredible landscape of rivers and wetlands. The idea is to maximize the contrast between urban and nature by squeezing a variety of buildings typologies to one side of the site and leave the rest as open space.

The buildings are next to the rail and use the river basin as a buffer. There are new bus stops and shuttle systems to connect with the existing train station. The density and the program for the typologies was design based on the proximity with the transport node. Every time two typologies overlap they create a hybrid node, a public plaza with specific programs and activities. Vehicles move along a proposed extension of Woburn street and there are two new bike lanes, trees and a wide sidewalk, which links to the hybrid nodes and form a continuous public spine on site. There are two water systems, a riverfront for entertainment and urban activities and a series of wetland ponds that follow the typography. Water is collected from the buildings and purified in the ponds, then it goes back to the riverfront through several creeks.