Thesis / Final Project
Red Hook, Brooklyn, New York
As designers, we need to work with the environment, not against it. We must rethink sustainability and approach it from a holistic stance. This necessitates an understanding of biological functions on every scale- micro and macro- and applying these functions to design.
This investigation begins with a critical examination of the Western perspective of the natural world. For hundreds of years, an anthropocentric view of the world has given people a sense of comfort and has been used as an excuse for the exploitation of every aspect of the planet. A critical examination of this perspective allows us to imagine alternative ways to connect with the world around us. This is crucial, as we live in a time when we are realizing that by depleting the natural world, we are also depleting the human world.
Thinking in this manner, how can we use basic biological material logic on a micro-level for design? A prevalent example of a site rich in employable material is the Hudson River Estuary. Due to erosion of limestone in the watershed, this water is rich with calcium carbonate, a key ingredient in concrete. Harvesting this mineral to, in essence, grow concrete through electro-accumulation, a process known as Biorock, creates new opportunities for the design world. Form is now grown instead of anthropocentrically shaped.
In order to think holistically, this logic must function on a macro-level as well. The Estuary flows alongside the neighborhood of Red Hook in Brooklyn, New York, which is an area that is constantly under the threat of flooding and pollution. How can we employ the macro-logic of an eco-system to address these issues? Wetlands and marshes, the historical origins of the site, are self-regulating systems that protect land from erosion and flooding. Applying this logic to the site, coupled with the structural and formal logic of the new grown structures, creates a completely sustainably-holistic proposal. Design has now become a collaborative effort between man and the natural world; this is the new urban perimeter.