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TO BE SEEN, TO BE HEARD

Project Site: Gowanus, New York |2020

Core II Studio | Critic: Miriam Peterson

Ten years ago, the Gowanus Canal became a superfund site. Same year, the grand Gowanus development project was approved to proceed, which encouraged more developers to push the Gowanus rezoning.

 

Since then, more than ten thousand people have moved out of the Gowanus neighborhood, the majority of them from Black, Hispanic or Latino communities. Historic buildings were planned to be demolished, signs and cultural artifacts have been taken down and sold, cultural and art groups have lost their spaces.

 

Communities and cultural groups are pushed out. As minorities, their voices are never loud enough to be heard in all the community discussions about rezoning, their groups are never large enough to be seen as a powerful resistance to the decisions being made about them. 

 

This is a residential building that devotes its body to protests.

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“Lost and Found in Gowanus” a map that documents not only all the building demolitions and the disappearing populations, but also resistance efforts initated by the people of Gowanus.

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Photo of Gowanus Station and people protesting against its demolition.

The brick walls echos the Gowanus Station protest. It protects the residents living behind the walls, but it also celebrates the residents’ identity by providing a blank surface waiting to become a collage of one’s life and belief.

PLANS: the curved walls offer optimized surface area for prosters, banners and murals. The outter shell protects the residential units from the public, while the balconies of each unit become connections between the private realm and the public plaza, offering the residents a choice to engage or to retreat.

While the balconies reach outward to the public realm beyond, the internal community spaces are pushed inward to carve a shared volume in the kitchen of each unit. These spaces caved out from the walls then become benches outside of each unit.

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During the day, it broadcasts the demands from the underrepresented communities to be heard and seen; at night, it stands as a quiet beacon that projects each individual’s belief to the rest of Gowanus.

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