Bryan Andrew Maddock
Utilizing built form as a strategic carrier of culture in opposition of the status quo, the project links the disconnected suburban mountain communities to the east with the sea to the west while simultaneously cutting the massive Hellinikon airport into distinct zones. This new linear centrality is a moment of productive tension and transition between the expansive landscape of the airstrip and the dense energetic randomness of the sprawling polykatoikia. Clear intentions and means of operation make the monumentality of the architecture an accepted and pro-active participant in the city.
The long and wall-like nature of the architecture evokes imagery of the ‘Long Walls’ of Ancient Greece that connected Athens to the port city of Piraeus, while simultaneously presenting itself as a modern day stoa and processional urban experience not unlike the Acropolis or the ancient city of Delphi. As a pair of long buildings, the two housing lines converse across a newly established and hybridized linear park while opportunistically enhancing and introducing shared programs along their lengths. The parts and the overall strategic form collectively constitute a city that fearlessly and optimistically reintroduces an architecture that can generally be a more important and vital force in our lives while countering any preconceptions we may hold of what a city may be.
The project brief challenged each group to establish a planning, zoning and development scheme for Mott Haven, a neighborhood in the South Bronx. Our team determined that Mott Haven was already a vibrant community, and had the potential for significant growth without substantial modification. However, the neighborhood lacked a cohesive plan to draw the activity on its periphery into its heart. To that end, the proposal unifies small pocket parks into one long path, weaving through the southern half of the study area. Inspired by the greenways in Philadelphia’s Society Hill, the design incorporates existing parks and vacant lots beginning at the Plaza Borinquen. This network, the Mott Loop, increases the walk-ability of Mott Haven and helps to break up the long avenue blocks. Supported by a Community Improvement District Corporation, each park will be carefully programmed and serve as a vital part of the network.
The Loop’s true strength is its modesty and scale. The project does not seek to channel Haussmann but rather returns to the true scale of a neighborhood. In a place where government initiatives have demolished entire blocks, the Loop builds upon an existing fabric, requiring little to no relocation. Instead, unites and enhances what already exists. By connecting the parks, both physically and visually, the proposal will create a cohesive public realm in the neighborhood. It is upon this spine, supported with a new comprehensive zoning scheme, that the redevelopment of Mott Haven will begin in earnest. Yet, the proposal does not end at the park but rather plans for and incorporates the future housing and commercial development that will lead to the future of Mott Haven.
We have always been interested in the dynamically changing edge that defines Coney Island as a territory. Historically, whether through error, embellishment, erosion, or evolution, the edge that defines Coney Island has always been fluid and dynamic. Indeed, we would posit that this fluid edge, and the concomitant illegibility or fuzziness of Coney Island’s borders are a fundamental component in the shaping of Coney Island’s identity: its unfixable boundary has permitted the emergence of a more promiscuous, licentious, open culture. We see the threat posed by both rising sea levels and the increasing risk of severe storm events as an opportunity to resuscitate Coney Island.
We seek to reconnect Coney Island to the greater Hudson River watershed, Jamaica Bay, and the Gateway National Park as a whole. We refuse to retreat, but realize the futility of staging of direct, oppositional resistance against the overwhelming forces of nature. Instead, we propose an ‘aikido’ response. Like the martial art, we would endeavor to redirect and divert these forces rather than merely try to obstruct them. Such an approach would reestablish the fluid edge that has always defined Coney Island, while at the same time attenuate the effects of storm surges and create a natural marsh ecosystem.
Our urban approach has three interrelated foci: manipulations of the ground and water edge (cut and fill dredging and artificial islanding), the construction of an elevated infrastructural network that would compose a new and stable ground plane that would anchor elevated architectural interventions, and, finally, an architectural/infrastructural system that stitches the two together.