Collective Architecture Studio II

Dudley Future Present


A Collective Drawing by the Collective Architecture Studio @ MIT:

In the Dudley Triangle, a majority minority neighborhood in Boston, USA, its residents set the pace of its future. The rejection of normative ownership models secured collective investment into the fabric of the neighborhood. The Dudley Neighbors Community Land Trust (CLT) models a community’s power to use its shared history to shape its present and future.

Racialized discriminatory lending practices—known as redlining—and parallel suburban expansion left Dudley severely scarred by disinvestment, arson, and dumping. Dudley residents formed Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (DSNI) in 1984 to regain control of their ravaged neighborhood. Working creatively to challenge city hall via its own mechanisms, DSNI used eminent domain to gain ownership of over 500 vacant and neglected lots, securing more than 30 acres of land in the Dudley Neighbors CLT. Unique for the United States, the CLT is a patchwork of land parcels stewarded by DSNI and collectively owned in perpetuity. To date, the land has been developed for affordable homeownership and community development projects ranging from farms to business incubation spaces.

Food lies at the center of this collective project. In Dudley, localized food systems serve as active tools to sustain community. Decades of history and organizing are reflected in the soil. Because DSNI invested in soil remediation and replenishment to counteract years of toxic dumping, vacant plots now host productive and healthy farms a generation later. Former youth who once protested with their parents to form the CLT now watch their own children tend to the plants in the gardens. Residents build community over a rake and shovel. The compost pile grows as the community entrenches its social network through the seasonal food cycle. The communal table becomes a space both formally and informally to discuss current issues and future possibilities.

With the City of Boston growing quickly around Dudley, the CLT evolves at the pace of neighborhood meetings. Discussion and consensus are given due time. The organization is only as strong as its communication, a particular challenge where the streets echo with sounds of Spanish, Portuguese, English, Kriolu, and more—41% of the population speaks a language other than English at home. Yet the neighborhood persists due to community networks and sustained organizing.

Dudley Future Present reflects not only how collective engagement requires continuous care and tending, like the gardens in Dudley, but also how Dudley’s present and future is crucially rooted in its past. Proposals for future development upon sites owned by the CLT reflect the existing social bonds of the neighborhood and harken to the multiplicities embedded within the land. These proposals offer spaces in which these networks can continue to flourish and sustain themselves, where its food future is crucially guided by its present.

Collaborators: Justin Brazier, Zack Kish-DeGilio, Doris Duanmu, Patricia Duenas Gerritsen, Julian Geltman, Lauren Gideonse, James Heard, Zack Kish-DeGilio, Katie Rotman, Lan Xuan, Huiwen Shi, Calvin Zhong.

Dudley Future Present was presented at Edible; Or, The Architecture of Metabolism, The 6th Tallinn Architecture Biennale 2022