Crossing Paths: Strategies for the Gowanus Basin
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CitationGiraudet, Nadege. 2021. Crossing Paths: Strategies for the Gowanus Basin. Master's thesis, Harvard Graduate School of Design.
AbstractOver the past few centuries, the Gowanus has transformed from natural to pastoral to industrial to post-industrial. Its history is tied to the development of Brooklyn. Once a tidal inlet with orchards and mills, it industrialized when the local population exploded in the 19th century. A canal replaced the marshland to service very polluting plants settled along its banks. Soon one of the most polluted waterways in the country, it remains so today.
The industrial legacy is one of deep soil contamination and toxicity which, with the site’s natural cycles (rain, tides, hurricanes) combine to make it a forbidding ground for development. Yet, the city is proposing a massive densification of the area, one opposed by the varied communities living and working there.
This project considers the entire Gowanus watershed as its site. It positions itself as an interface between the natural and the built. It offers solutions to connect the neighborhoods now surrounding the canal by making use of the fragmented urban grid and existing structures. Taking inspiration from Japanese models, it proposes to restore horizontal and vertical continuities by developing city blocks as a series of landscapes where floodable and inhabitable surfaces are layered and woven to accommodate ecologies, architectures, and people.
An infrastructure of access organizes new development and facilitates the interactions between the shifting natural ground, and existing architectures. Ramps and platforms define the spaces of public life while leaving room for a dynamic ecology below. The circulation structures bridge the public spaces and streets to new and existing buildings, while defining the perimeter of public and private life. Lessons from Ando’s Azuma House, Shinohara’s House in Uehara and Atelier Bow Wow’s Tower House, among others, inform this effort to imagine circulation as dwelling, and conceive of the organization of the urban block as an urban house. The project goes on to suggest building rules to establish an ecologically sound relationship between the built and natural environment.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37367894