Pratt Institute - GAUD - Architecture and Urban Design Studio - Ferda Kolatan - 2013
east river . URBAN ECOLOGY . new york
prototype URBAN ECOLOGY e.river nyc
Over the years, the New York City shoreline has been modified and every time, a little bit more of the original and natural condition of its shoreline has been lost. The river edges had been rectified and terrain had been gained to the water. As a consequence, the city remains unprotected against storms, hurricanes, etc.
This scene keeps repeating itself in every dense city around the world.
This alterations in the natural ecosystem are also the reason that causes such climate catastrophes around the world, specifically in those places that are more disconnected from nature.
Widely used ecological tendencies try to "go back to nature" and erase every trace of the "modern and technological world". This radical "solutions" have demonstrated not to work well, at least with the larger percentage of the population. Most of them don’t adequate to our way of leaving and can’t be applied massively, because among other reasons, the changes are so drastic that no one wants to give them even an opportunity. From my point of view, in order to live in harmony with nature, we have to accept our now-a-days nature and combine both ways of living.
This project is about blending, what is generally seen as two different worlds; nature and the man-maid city.
The idea is to bring back the natural ecosystem that used to exist in New York's waterfronts, not only without destroying what is already settled, but also trying to use it in our favor.
The chemical paradigm (Ferda Kolatan's approach and technique) that has been applied to this work process was for me a rich compound of suggestive, complex images bound with nature behavior, that I used to find a system and a logic for my project.
The traditional city grid appears to be morphologically inflexible to contain nature, but works very well in organizational terms. Therefore I extended it into the river, so it connects the existing tissue with the new one generating a different morphology that in its complexity enables nature to grow inside of it.
In the center, remains a clear space that is contained by the grid. It works as a permeable border and keeps the center connected but closed at the same time. The central space has specific regions were vegetation and fish are going to be introduced, subsequently that ecosystem is going to expand on its own. When the area is developed, it will function as a sponge, being able to absorb the already rising water levels and avoid drastic climate changes at the waterfront. It also works as a big "container" of water, where it can be naturally purified.
The spaces in between, that generates the blending of the grid with the central area, are natural pools that contain purified water that comes from the wetland. The energy that is going to be released in the most dense construct zones is used to heat the pools. The border of the project intends to connect programmatically the city with the river. Therefore it has various piers that function as recreation and commuting systems. This water-front living also connects Brooklyn and Manhattan. Although the project doesn’t change Manhattans borders, both boroughs have now a much more tangible bound and the river has much more use than before.
The relationship with Brooklyn Heights is through various streets that cross above the BQE and revive Brooklyn's waterfront.
The areas that are closer to the denser parts of the city become also dense in the water. Density is very essential to face the way of living in big cities, because is the most sustainable way to live in them. In this case, my purpose is to generate a dense community, that consequently uses less energy and shares more facilities. It is also mixed with nature but at the same time both characteristics (nature and people, which are also part of nature) have their own space. The main connections are elevated roads, that join the existing main roads with the project and are also the faster way to travel through the new grid and cross the central region, specially when it is flooded. The rest of the streets intent to be much slower streets, pedestrian, bicycle paths and H2 cars.
The final purpose of this prototype is to get a much more direct relationship between the city and the river through a sustainable and efficient way of living.