BROOKLYN, NY, 1995
This partly derelict area is socially, topographically and ecologically (though not economically) rich, descending from bluffs and ending in wetlands and shore. It holds factories and canals, rail lines, and a huge neo-Corbusian middle-class apartment enclave. It is also a museum of virtually every failed social housing typology in the American experience. We wondered how East New York might be transformed not by an urban-renewal-style demolition or by historicist completion – the fulfillment of some of the turn-of-the-century developer’s fantasy of original intent – but by the addition of new layers of circulation, of use, of green space and of form. First studies show a flow of this energy, of parks, of agricultural space, of small buildings, of new differences working their way through the neighborhood. As the project progressed a question arose: What might be the minimum initial invention necessary to get this going. The answer, we decided, was to plant a tree in the middle of an intersection; an “acupuncture” that might excess of public space devoted to automobile transport in New York would be reduced. Around these points, low-density, agrarian neighborhoods would develop. A further intended consequence would be the consolidation of several street-oriented neighborhood commercial centers.
Credits: Michael Sorkin, Andrei Vovk, P. Kormer