“Takin’ it to the streets”: Staging and Framing The Second Line in New Orleans.
Each Sunday parades run through different neighbourhoods across the margins of the city, becoming informal parties, fashion shows, and networking events. This is referred to as the Second Line, and it plays a central role in the lives of many black New Orleanians.
The parades are sponsored by Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs whose origins are located in working class African-American neighbourhoods. SA&P Clubs formed as a reaction to an economy that systematically excluded African-Americans, performing the function that government had failed to provide: help with medical bills, small loans and, importantly, proper burials (also known as jazz funerals) from which the act of Second Lining derived.
Today there are around 80 clubs, many of which give aid to their community by means other than the parade. They serve as a force that unites neighborhoods socially, culturally and politically—reaffirming residents connectedness to community, collective memory and place.
The project speculates on the staging and framing of the second line as an to attempt to project and extend its visibility.
The proposal draws on the various scales presented by the parade to form a frame for which the practice to flow through - a canopy of sorts which becomes encrusted with recycled material (mirrors, spoons, car bumpers and wheel rims). The structure stands high above its surroundings as it stretches along the St Claude Avenue, 6 kilometres long and 30 metres wide. Its lightness and form, in contrast to the typical scales of monumentality found within the city skyline; the Superdome, One Shell Square, First bank.
As the frame stretches along the street it celebrates spaces commemorated by the Second Line routes, schools, and fringe public spaces; garage forecourts, parking lots, central reservations. By doing so it establishes a connection beyond the local community and space, whereby the building acts as a place of total visibility. The entire population (all races, classes) see the parade, which is usually a controlled act within a strict temporality.
School of Architecture
MA Architecture, 2018
- BA Architecture, University of Liverpool
- Architectural Assistant, Grimshaw Architects, London (2015-2017)