Notes on "Camping": Vacationing in Fairmount Park

Masters Thesis MIT 2009
Advisor: Meejin Yoon
Ryan Murphy

The public perception of landscape is still primarily shaped by eighteenth-century English aesthetics, pastoral idealism disassociated with infrastructural reality. This idealism is on display in most cities in the form of municipal parks with their appearance of naturalness. Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park, the site of this thesis, is continually constructed and managed by a staff of hundreds, assuring the right varieties of vegetation, constant fish stocks in a polluted river, purposeful insect infestations, etc. If this presentation of nature is wholly synthetic, can it be re-imagined as an architectural project?
Modern architecture adopted the conditioned interior as a means of isolating the interior from exterior. Pushed to its logical end, could the conditioned interior become a new municipal park?
The thesis proposes that the preservation programs of the park be recast as a new interior pleasure garden which makes visible Fairmount Park’s necessarily synthetic construction.

Aerial view of project 


Public / private control of park 

Episodes within larger park 

Park edge typologies 

Park edge studies 

size vs. genus
Fairmount park vegetation: size vs. genus

vegetation as section generator
Longitudinal section diagrams: vegetation as section generator

exploded axonometric
Project parts: exploded axonometric

dividing the programs
Diagrammatic section: dividing the programs



Cross sections 

overall & enlarged
Longitudinal sections: overall & enlarged

showing camping units
Section through vestibule: showing camping units



plans and sections
Camping units: plans and sections

Partial section model 

Project entry from Fairmount park 

Interior view section through path 

section through cottage & vestibule
Interior view : section through cottage & vestibule

Interior view of biome