SCI-Arc students propose self-growing park and parasitic housing to adapt former LA prison

Dezeen promotion: students at the Southern California Institute of Architecture have suggested ways to transform a former jail in Los Angeles, including a park controlled by artificial intelligence and building models designed by 3D printers.

The schemes were designed by the first graduates of LA-based SCI-Arc‘s Master of Science in Architectural Technologies – a one-year-long postgraduate degree that launched last year to teach ways to address critical issues in architecture with cutting-edge technology.

Distortions and Alterations of the Real by SCI-Arc students
Among the SCI-Arc student projects is Biophilia, which imagines populating the entire prison site with a “self-growing” park

Created in the third and final studio – titled Distortions and Alterations of the Real – the schemes use robotic automation and artificial intelligence to develop a way to adapt the city’s Lincoln Heights Jail.

The facility closed as a prison in 1965 and has since been used as a theatre, and then a set for horror films and music videos.

Distortions and Alterations of the Real by SCI-Arc students
In the Crypto-Architecture project by Daniel Horowitz and Jose Reyes, parasitic modules cover the entire existing structure

Project leaders Marcelo Spina and Casey Rehm chose the historic jail, rumoured to be haunted, for its prominent location near to the Los Angeles River, providing plenty of scope for redevelopment. The site is also not far from the school.

With access to five robots, a drone, a light detection and ranging scanner (LIDAR), and artificial intelligence, the students first made studies of the building at North Avenue 19 and its surrounding area, and then developed proposals to adapt the structure.

Distortions and Alterations of the Real by SCI-Arc students
Horowitz and Reyes’ proposal intends to provide affordable housing for the city

Among the most dramatic ideas is a scheme by Sunhita Vartak and Burcin Nalinci. Titled Biophilia, it imagines populating the entire site with a “self-growing” park.

The growth of the greenery would be controlled by artificial intelligence to create something between “the rainforest and the luxury of the garden mall”.

Parasitic modules would cover the entire historic building in Daniel Horowitz and Jose Reyes’ Crypto-Architecture.

Aiming to address the lack of affordable housing in the city, the design is intended as a new type of housing that integrates residences with data centres and energy-production programmes.

Distortions and Alterations of the Real by SCI-Arc students
The students employed a variety of techniques and technologies, like Moheb Hezkial and Shabnam Moravveji, who used colour mapping to create projections for future development

For The Aesthetics of Digital Craftsmanship, Arsenios Zachariadis and Hsiao Chiao Peng took 2D drawings of the current building and scanned them through a 3D printer to create models of new forms.

Distortions and Alterations of the Real by SCI-Arc students
Arsenios Zachariadis and Hsiao Chiao Peng took 2D drawings of the current building and scanned them through a 3D printer to create models of new forms

The Master of Science in Architectural Technologies is one of the four postgraduate programmes offered at the SCI-Arc EDGE, Center for Advanced Studies in Architecture, which focuses on architecture for the 21st century.

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