From Below:
CSOs as Community Catalysts

Pruitt-Igoe did not fall alone. As the complex deteriorated, so did the city. Broken pipes and broken windows followed years of neglect, pushing people out – out of the projects, out of St. Louis.

Those who remain in the city today continue to face issues of abandonment and contamination. The aging infrastructure is in desperate need of repair, yet the declining tax base cannot support necessary improvements.

Our project aims to activate the former Pruitt-Igoe site as one node in a larger network – acknowledging issues that extend beyond the original boundary of the housing complex. By tapping, exposing and diverting existing CSO wastewater flows we use the site as a catalyst to re-engage the surrounding urban fabric.

The proposed system inundates the surface of the site with a series of constructed cleansing basins. Wastewater first passes through a settling pool and urea centrifuge before undergoing aeration and microbial digestion. The water is then polished in a constructed riparian pool before reabsorption and karst diversion.

As the water flows from stage to stage, the system produces a number of regional economic outputs: rich biosolids for community composters, urea crystals for "growing" biobricks and residual algae for the production of bio-fuels.

Woven throughout the system is a sequencing of local ecologies and elevated plazas for social and environmental engagement. When fully constructed, the site becomes a mosaic of experiences – from overflow amphitheaters to sunken floodplain forests to exposed karst collection basins.

Over time, the system grows as local vacancies transition into satellite sites. Each intervention, from a curb-cut to system intercept, becomes a community catalyst – allowing for social, environmental and economical regeneration.