We believe that the key to a successful green corridor lies in the ability of the built environment to inspire its residents to look beyond the common, the materialistic and the easily consumed in favor of the stimulating, the daring and the whimsical. Only with this premise may we start to break our old habits and consider radically new, more environmentally conscious ways of living. The urban approach we took in designing the Cleantech Corridor was to compress the nearly four mile site by implementing a local tram way, then rezoning specific areas in order to give space back to the pedestrian. At the local scale this translates into the opportunistic retrofitting of the existing environment along with the inclusion of highly visible urban markers. At the scale of the Cleantech facility we sought to embody our commitment to keeping as much of the existing context intact while also giving the residents of the corridor a monument to the seemingly impossible.
If we are to provoke the residents of the Cleantech Corridor to help society change the way it perceives energy use, it is only fair to give them “the kind of visible signals that it needs to understand what is happening. We believe that for the Cleantech Corridor to be the kind of environment which truly inspires radically new perceptions, it should literally start with the street. For this reason the tranverse streets of the corridor, running perpendicular to the streetcar on Mateo Street, would be cut off from traffic, essentially given back to the pedestrian. These pedestrian streets would then be finished with colored pigment or punctuated with elephants, each terminating at a vertical garden in order to shift the function of the streets from spaces of conveyance to a series of destinations. Furthermore, this strategy means to replace the Cartesian grid as the only way in which the Cleantech Corridor might be negotiated-- «You can find me on In- dustrial Street, just past Jesse,» becomes «You can find me on the green street just past the elephants.» Our strategy reinforces the way in which people commonly clarify places in metropolises like Los Angeles, where, for example, the intersection of Wilshire Blvd and S Curson Ave is described as Across from the tar pits. It is our view that urban interventions of minimal environmental impact yet high visibility have the power to shift the perceptions of a neighborhood and hopefully shift common thought into the realm of what has never been done before, or what could be done.