Building C-Burbia


Team Members
Denise Hoffman Brandt, Alexa Helsell, Bronwyn Gropp

Juror Summary
A landscape proposition at multiple scales for addressing climate change with an exciting new kind of infrastructure designed to efficiently sequester carbon in plantings.

Key Themes
Retrofitting auto infrastructure, suburban agriculture, ecological repair, landscape improvements


“Building C-Burbia” is an infrastructure system for short-term biomass storage and formation of long-term soil carbon reservoirs in suburban landscape. As the northeast metropolitan regions anticipate remediation of anthropogenic climate change – and policy-makers navigate the land-ethics of disproportionate responsibility for negative global impacts – mandates that assure existing infrastructures comply with updated environmental standards must be complemented by implementation of new infrastructures that redress failures of the old systems. Cap and Trade and the UN’s IPCC protocols are emerging to adapt to the need for new environmental paradigms. In the post-carbon world, design and planning initiatives must be systemically integrated, yet opportunistic, to achieve efficiency. The C-Burbia system was designed to disperse across the urban field, latching-onto existing physical structures, policy, and funding mechanisms to optimize carbon cycle performance and amplify the experiential intensity of suburban landscape.

Opportunistic infill with sink infrastructure leverages a proactive response to global climate change to instigate densification of suburban morphology. Suburban development is squeezed in a positive way – hugged as it were – by the new infrastructural zones, which themselves generate desirable conditions to draw out a younger population of new ecological “suburbanites.” Metrics for the new systems are evolving – and a key aspect of the C-Burbia study was the objective to delineate a systemic approach to environmental infrastructure. Individually each sink benefits its context with multiple functions – storm water management, habitat improvement, human ecological education, and more compelling local experiential qualities of the place. Expanding the suburban-plant typology to encompass evolving plant communities and productive plantations activates terrestrial soil sequestration across a spectrum of effective time frames.