Williamsburgâ€™s Waterfront: From Gentrification to Generification and Beyond
Content 1.0. Introduction 2.0. The context of Generification 2.1. Gentrification in Williamsburg 2.2. Deindustrialisation at the waterfront 2.3.
3.0. The nature of Generification 3.1.
Generification as an architectural phenomenon
Generification as a social phenomenon
Generification versus Gentrification
The City as a Product
4.0. Conclusion 5.0.
Critical Continuation of the City: A proposal for Williamsburgâ€™s Waterfront
New York/Paris: The Shape of Two Cities â€“ Urban Studio Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation GSAPP Columbia University Prof. Brian Sahd Fall 2013
The North of Williamsburg has been subject to strong
After contextualising the new developments by examining
forces of change within the last decades. The most recent
major processes of change within Williamsburg, such as
change came with the new developments on the waterfront:
gentrification, deindustrialisation and rezoning, I will
The Northside Piers and The Edge. This paper tries to
define generification as an architectural phenomenon on
question the traditional interpretation of a gentrified
the one hand and as a social phenomenon on the other.
neighbourhood by proposing a more refined reading of
Further, I will give an account of the consequences of
the change that is happening in Williamsburg. Taking the
a market-driven conception of urban space at the scale
fundamental discrepancy between classical gentrification
of The Northside Piers and The Edge, before I finally
and the development of the Williamsburg waterfront, I
conclude that generification has created an enclave that
will introduce a new term in order to describe the novelty
is marked by its incompatibility with the given context
and the distinct character of a new force of change that
of Williamsburg. Finally I will introduce an architectural
occurs when the upgrading of a neighbourhood is no
project as an alternative proposal for the development of
longer caused by private individuals but by corporations
and real estate developers: Generification.
01 Study area
2.0. The Context of Generification 2.1. Gentrification in Williamsburg
Very few urban areas give a better example of what
we see that the number of white residents has risen by
is referred to as gentrification than Williamsburg,
75%, while the Hispanic community was diminishing by
Brooklyn. The gentrification of Williamsburg started
25%. Further, the number of people holding a bachelor’s
with illegal conversions of loft spaces by artists in the
degree or higher has increased by 16%, opposed to a
1970s, resulting in a systematic conversion of industrial
mere increase of 5% in Brooklyn and New York. Finally,
space into residential and commercial space within the
the 73%-rise of non-family households (against plus 16%
and plus 8% in Brooklyn and New York) shows how
Gentrification is largely defined as a conflict over space
gentrification is shifting the composition of households
between unequally wealthy residents: Peter Marcuse
towards away from the family model and therefore
speaks of “lower-income residents” as opposed to “upper
mirrors the rising number of single living residents.
income households”2 and Neil Smith of “working class”
In Williamsburg, the influx of wealthy people has been
against “middle class”.3 For this reason the conflict
strongly affecting the real estate market: The prices
between the new gentrifiers and the local residents
for single and multiple family buildings, as well as
becomes most obvious in the increase of income.
condominiums multiplied five to six times since 1990
Williamsburg’s demographic data4 renders a clear picture
and the number of vacant housing units increased by not
of this shift. Between 2000 and 2011 the average income
less than 12 100% (compared to 113% in Brooklyn and
decreased both in Brooklyn (by 4%) and in New York City
83% in New York) between 2000 and 2011.5
as a whole (by 9%), however in Williamsburg (defined
It becomes evident that a tremendous demographic
as North-side and South-side Williamsburg, according to
difference between the new and the old inhabitants of
the NYC Census) income increased by 85% in the same
Williamsburg, based on different financial power, has
timespan. As well, data on race, education, and household
emerged. The new wealth of Williamsburg residents is
composition between the years 2000 and 2011 shows a
further reflected in the growth of the real estate market
more accurate profile of the gentrifying “class”: Mostly
that is likely to outprice the old residents and continue the
white, mostly highly educated and often unmarried.
displacement that began in the 1990s.
Looking at the two major racial groups in Williamsburg,
1 Winifred Curran: ‘From the Frying Pan to the Oven’: Gentrification and the Experience of Industrial Displacement in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Urban Studies, p. 1431, Vol. 44, No. 8, 1427–1440, July 2007. 2 Peter Marcuse: Islands of Decay in Seas of Renewal: Housing Policy and the Resurgence of Gentrification, in: Housing Policy Debate. vol. 10, pp. 790-791, 1999 3 Neil Smith: Gentrification and uneven development, in Economic Geography, p. 139, 1982. 4 NYC Census data, 2013: www.maps.nyc.gov/census/
5 NYC Census data, 2013: www.maps.nyc.gov/census/
2.2. Deindustrialisation at the Waterfront
For many decades Williamsburg has been a powerhouse
urban development. As industry was for logistic reasons
for various forms of industrial activity, such as breweries,
traditionally located alongside rivers, the space that it
oil refineries, sugar refineries and apparel manufacturing,
leaves behind is particularly attractive––especially in
most of them located at the waterfront.6 However,
Williamsburg where it is facing the Manhattan skyline.
numbers prove that the nationwide decline of urban
Besides that remaining industrial lofts that are often
industrial sites has also affected Williamsburg: Between
converted into apartments, the conversion of industrial
1991 and 2002 industry in Williamsburg decline by 40%
space also entails the demolition of industrial buildings in
and manufacturing––more specifically––by 72%.7 As a
order to be replaced by new residential buildings.8
result, formerly industrial space becomes available for
02 The Sugar Domino Refinery and Havemeyer Park
6 Winifred Curran: ‘From the Frying Pan to the Oven’: Gentrification and the Experience of Industrial Displacement in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Urban Studies, p. 1431, Vol. 44, No. 8, 1427–1440, July 2007. 7 NYC Department of City Planning, 2005: www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/html/ greenpointwill/greenplan3.shtml
8 Winifred Curran: ‘From the Frying Pan to the Oven’: Gentrification and the Experience of Industrial Displacement in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Urban Studies, p. 1431, Vol. 44, No. 8, 1427–1440, July 2007.
Thus, it is the deindustrialisation of Williamsburg that
Whereas the rezoning also addressed protective
makes highly attractive urban space available and thereby
measures, such as affordable housing and the protection
supports the demand of redevelopment that is created by
of certain industrial activity, it laid the foundation for
an unprecedented acceleration of the neighbourhood’s upgrading caused by the real estate developments that
2.3. Rezoning Williamsburg
were consequentially realized. Disguised as a sensitive reaction to the ocurring changes,
When the New York Department of City Planning announced
it seems that the rezoning can be considered as the final
the rezoning of Greenpoint and Williamsburg in 2005, its
step that enabled redevelopment and thereby accelerated
primary goals were presented as a reaction to the change that
the influx of new money into Williamsburg.
has been occurring in those areas for years: Deindustrialisation and gentrification.9 The planning framework of the rezoning is guided by the Community 197-a Plans.10 Its two major objectives are to “achieve waterfront access” and to “facilitate housing and local commercial development”, which means turning deindustrialisation into a public benefit by creating open spaces near the East River as well as reacting to the decline of manufacturing and the increase of residential and commercial demand through the influx of new residents by changing the zoning from manufacturing to commercial and residential.
03 Zoning before 2005
04 Zoning after 2005
9 NYC Department of City Planning, 2005: www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/html/ greenpointwill/greenoverview.shtml 10 NYC Department of City Planning, 2005: http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/html/ greenpointwill/greenplan1.shtml
3.0. The nature of Generification 3.1. Introducing Generification
With the rezoning of 2005 the change in Williamsburg
and the waterfront, called The Northside Piers and The
has taken another dimension. As pointed out before,
Edge. Given this example, it seems that gentrification––
the shift from industrial to commercial and residential
which is normally associated with the restoration of old
use through the rezoning of North-Williamsburg
structures––has generated a wave of redevelopment.
redevelopment has finally become possible. The most
This raises the question if redevelopment still is a matter
prominent results of this development are the luxury
of gentrification, as Neil Smith points out in 1982: “I
high rises built in 2008 and 2009 between Kent Avenue
make the theoretical distinction between gentrification
05 Construction workers building a fence around the Sugar Domino Refinery to prepare its redevelopment. The Northside Piers and The Edge in the background.
06 Illustration of the social and spatial gap between the gentrified and the generified part of North-Williamsburg
city like the contemporary airport – ‘all the same’? What
rehabilitation of old structures but the construction of
is left after identity is stripped? The Generic?”13 In his
new buildings on previously developed land.”11 Further
description it is the generic that sums up the nature of
it seems that gentrification has mutated into something
change that is manifested in the aesthetic and social
that actually is opposed to the core characteristics of
transformation of the guidelines of urban development.
gentrification, such as the rehabilitation of identity and
In the following I will apply Koolhaas’ conception of the
history of urban structures, reacting against the growing
generic on my description of the redevelopment that has
uniformity of cities through the proliferation of chain
been taking place at the North-Williamsburg waterfront.
stores and real estate developments.
By discussing it as a mutation of gentrification and
In order to discuss the essence of this mutation I will refer
thereby regarding it as its following stage, I want to term
to Rem Koolhaas’ 1994 essay The Generic City.12 Since
this development generification.
his 1978 retroactive manifesto on Manhattan––titled
Arguing that generification separates its territory from
Delirious New York––Koolhaas has been interested in
the already gentrified area along Bedford Avenue I will
the role of architecture within capitalist society. Adding
draw the dividing line along Kent Avenue, regarding it
globalisation alongside capitalism as another major factor
as the border between the generified and the gentrified.
for his account of contemporary urban development, in
Further I will discuss the term gentrification as both an
The Generic City he is questioning the effect of global
architectural as well as a social phenomenon.
capital upon the urban environment: “Is the contemporary 11 Neil Smith: Gentrification and uneven development, in Economic Geography, p. 139, 1982. 12 Rem Koolhaas: The Generic City, in: Rem Koolhaas: S, M, L, XL, pp. 1248-1264, New York 1995.
13 Rem Koolhaas: The Generic City, in: Rem Koolhaas: S, M, L, XL, p. 1248, New York 1995.
3.2. Generification as an architectural phenomenon a) From “The Generic City” to Generification
Central to Koolhaas’ observations is the aspect of identity.
the Generic City as a “repetition of the same structural
Although the loss of identity is a recurring element in his
module” 14, which in regard to the rezoning plans can be
text, it is probably his critique of the absence of a centre
recognized as the multitude of equally shaped high rises,
and therefore the absence of a tool of identification that
united in their staggered silhouette, generating the typical
provides the clearest picture of the spatial implication of
image of Manhattan skyscrapers, shaped by New York’s
the loss of identity. Comparing the notion of the absence
zoning laws (see image 10). In Koolhaas view the choice
of an urban centre as the absence of identity with the
for high rises over vertical buildings turns the Generic
proposed reality of the New York Department of City
City into a declaration of “density in isolation”.15 As a
Planning’s visualisation, it becomes clear that Koolhaas
high rise disconnects its inhabitants from the ground level
critique is applicable. The pictures show separated groups
and therefore from public life on the street, the divide
of high rises along the Williamsburg and Greenpoint
between the new residents of the waterfront and the rest
waterfront (see image 09); a long homogenous strip of
of the neighbourhood can be seen as spatially manifested
condominium towers as a new part of the city––due to its
in its architecture. By ignoring the industrial past of their
geographical layout not able to have a centre as a point that
site the new developments are an example for the kind of
connects its single parts. Moreover, Koolhaas identifies
development Koolhaas is describing: Existing buildings
07 The Edge
08 The Northside Piers
09 Illustration of Zoning
Source: NYC Department of City Planning
10 Illustration of Zoning
Source: NYC Department of City Planning
14 Rem Koolhaas: The Generic City, in: Rem Koolhaas: S, M, L, XL, p. 1251, New York 1995. 15 ibid. p. 1253
have been erased and thereby all links to the past. Furthermore, Koolhaas is stating that “all generic cities issue from the tabula rasa; if there was nothing, now they are there; if there was something, they have replaced it. They must, otherwise they would be historic.”16
As well, Koolhaus maintains: “Each Generic
City has a waterfront, not necessarily with water (...) but at least an edge where it meets another condition, as if
11 Pier with outdoor furniture
the position of near escape is the best guarantee for its
enjoyment”17 (See image 11). Referring to the interior
take the “sedentary position“18 Koolhaas is ascribing the
spaces of the Generic City Koolhaas pictures it as place
generic experience to (see image 12).
for a sedated lifestyle––an attribute that seems to in line
As shown, Koolhaas’ essay The Generic City serves
with the marketing images of the amenities offered in The
well to critically examine the spatial characteristics of
Northside Piers and The Edge. Those images show large
developments like The Northside Piers and The Edge as
wellness and workout facilities that enable its residents to
the outcome of generification.
12 Whirlpool in The Edge
16 Rem Koolhaas: The Generic City, in: Rem Koolhaas: S, M, L, XL, p. 1253, New York 1995. 17 ibid. p. 1257
13 Rem Koolhaas: The Generic City, in: Rem Koolhaas: S, M, L, XL, p. 1250, New York 1995.
b) Urbanization and the absence of architects
the proliferation of enclaves, walls, and apparatuses of control. (...) The rise of urbanization as an apparatus of
Developments like The Northside Piers and The Edge
governance is marked precisely by the constant dialectic
are the result of a twofold process: Rezoning and
of integration and closure.”19 It seems that generification
development. Thus, the two major actors involved are
as the result of the apparatus Aureli is referring to––
city planners and developers, forming what I want to
which in Williamsburg’s case would be planner-
call a planner-developer-complex, characterized by the
developer-complex––leads to certain spatial formations,
absence of mechanisms of architectural culture, such as
which Koolhaas already touched on in his comments
architectural competitions for instance.
about verticality, edges and the absence the centre,
In his 2011 book The Possibility of an Absolute
now complimented by Aureli’s enclaves and walls. The
Architecture Pier Vittorio Aureli highlights the distinction
absence of mechanisms like architectural competitions is
between architecture and urbanization, whereas his
hereby symptomatic for the non-transparent process of
definition of urbanization is similar to Koolhaas account
managerial development of urbanity.
of the Generic City: Architecture that is shaped by the
Hence, the very nature of urbanization, as opposed to
global capital, conducted through a managerial ethos.
architecture, seems to equal the spatial and architectural
Further, he remarks: “Today it is clear that the outcome
aspect of generification, both strongly affected by the
of the logic of urban governance manifests itself (...) in
absence of architects.
13 Site fence enclosing one of the vacant lots at the waterfront.
19 Pier Vittorio Aureli: The Possibility of an Absolute Architecture, pp. x-xi, Cambridge 2011.
14 Children and Nannys in front of The Northside Piers
3.3. Generification as an Social Phenomenon
Having described generification as an architectural
The primary finding is that the average income of
phenomenon, I want to shift the focus to the social implications
those participated in the survey turned out to be around
of The Northside Piers and The Edge. Whereas gentrification
$192.000. That is almost four times more than the
is defined as the scenario when medium income residents
average income in Williamsburg, which was around
move into low income areas, generification could be the case
$48.000 in 2011. Given that the Williamsburg numbers
when upper income residents move into new medium income
are already reflecting the effects of gentrification and
areas that have been low income areas before. In order to
that the average income in Williamsburg in 2000 has
examine the demographic implications of those upper income
been around $26.000, the data for The Northside Piers
people, I conducted a survey amongst 35 residents of the new
and The Edge illustrates the enormous acceleration of
waterfront developments on October 18th 2013.
the wealth in the neighbourhood that is taking place and
gives further reason for the above mentioned increase
A Survey amongst residents of The Northside Piers and The Edge:
in real estate value in Williamsburg, especially in the years after the completion of The Northside Piers and
Where did you live before?
The Edge. Above all it mirrors the socio-economical
divide between the gentrified and the generified part of
Since the data draws the picture of an upper class
enclave, being distinguished from the neighbourhood it is located in, it raises the question seems how its residents relate to the rest of the city. While most of the
Why did you move to Williamsburg’s waterfront?
respondents stated that their main reason to move to the waterfront is its proximity to Manhattan or the building they moved into (both 29%), only 14% of the respondents
Proximity to Manhattan
29 % 14 %
stated that their main reason to move to Williamsburg
was actually the neighbourhood itself. Further, it turned
3% 25 %
out that their social environment is still mostly located in Manhattan, as 40% of the new waterfront residents
Where do most of your friends live?
indicated that the majority of their friends are living
in Manhattan, against 34% in Brooklyn. Numbers on
public transport show that 40% of the respondents are
using the ferry to go to work, whereas only 37% take
3% 23 %
Outside New York
the subway, 17% the car and only 3% go by foot or bike. The ferry station is the only direct connection of public
How do you get to work?
transport within the newly developed area and it seems
to be the main link between the waterfront enclave and
the part of the city towards which, according to the data,
most of its residents orient themselves: Manhattan. At the time I conducted the survey I also had the chance to have a conversation with some of the inhabitants of
The Northside Piers and The Edge (see image 15). One male resident in his mid-thirties told me that “basically Here I get more space for my money!
everyone” in The Northside Piers moved there because they were outpriced by the extreme rise of real estate value in Manhattan. Others were confirming this.
This is actually Manhattan!
Everyone in Northside Piers moved here because Manhattan became a bad deal!
Referring to the social and spatial structure of the new developments another female resident made very clear that in her view “this is actually Manhattan.”
15 Quotes from residents of the The Northside Piers and The Edge
16 Ferry leaving the Williamsburg station.
The data gives above all two major insights: Firstly, it proves that the new residents belong to a much higher income group than the middle class residents of Williamsburg, that are largely considered as gentrifiers, and secondly, that the new residents are socially and economically stronger connected to Manhattan than to Williamsburg. For this reason, the new developments do not seem to be a mere enclave but an exclave of Manhattanâ€“â€“a Generic Exclave.
3.4. Generification versus Gentrification
In order to highlight the divide between what I have
the new developments rather shows how daily life can
called generifiers and gentrifiers, I have listed a number
be governed by an all-encompassing service (such as
of juxtapositions, exemplifying the major distinctions
A 24-hours attended lobby, children’s playrooms and
between both groups.
parking service), turning the residency at The Northside Piers and The Edge into a hotel-like experience that
a) Generic Exclave versus The New Frontier
is normally associated with residential buildings in Manhattan.
Opposed to the term Generic Exclave, The New Frontier d) Sedated versus Hyperactive
describes the area of prevailing gentrification. As the heading-west-movement of early American Settlements, to which this term refers, gentrification is characterised
When it comes to leisure, the amenities of the waterfront
by the conquest of urban space, widening the inner
developments provide a miniature landscape of the
city by moving towards the periphery. The movement
sedative: swimming pools, fitness centers, sauna,
towards the outskirts (which is evident not only in the
whirlpools, massage and yoga rooms. However, leisure
case of Williamsburg but rather with the more recent
within the gentrified part of Williamsburg looks different.
gentrification of Bushwick and Bedford-Stuyvesant) is
The hedonistic lifestyle of the hipster crowd, especially
directly opposed to the strong ties with the Manhattan
during the night, is in the constant state of distraction
city center maintained by the generifiers.
and hyperactivity, seduced by an infinite amount of bars, nightclubs, art openings and underground parties.
b) Expats versus Pioneers e) Waterfront versus Main street
As the inhabitant of an exclave can be defined as an expat, the people that are setting a new frontier are acting as pioneers. Expats and pioneers may share the same
The landmark of the Generic Exclave is the waterfront––
place, however they are fundamentally different in their
less a social space (at least in its current design) than a
relation to their environment: The expat is defined by
place defined by nothingness (the water) and a promise
being distanced but still linked to his origins, whereas the
behind that: Manhattan. The centre of Williamsburg
pioneer strives for the unknown, distancing himself from
gentrification is however its main street: Bedford
his origins. This logic can be applied on the juxtaposition
Avenue, is a social space to its core––the agora of both
of generifiers and gentrifiers
the gentrified scene and the old residents.
c) Service versus DIY Whereas Do-It-Yourself proves to be the attitude of the gentrified Williamsburg with more and more DIY houses opening, providing the scene with alternative art and event spaces,20 21 the wide range of amenities in
20 http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20130508/bushwick/diy-space-booted-fromwilliamsburg-waterfront-expands-bushwick 21 Marcin Ramocki: Brooklyn DIY, Film, New York 2009.
3.5. The City as a Product
Although we can look at generification from an
have been added to the immediate streetscapes through
architectural and a social point of view, both aspects
the redevelopment of those blocks. Considering the
become united in its functional logic of exclusiveness.
strong resistance against the proliferation of chain stores
The spatial concept of mixing a wide range of amenities
in Williamsburg, documented by various newspaper
with residential space gives away the possibility of a
articles,23 24 the trade-off remains clearly negative for the
streetscape seamed by those public uses that have been
greater community. The green space close to the water––
internalized within developments such as The Northside
in its design highly generic in the Koolhaasian sense––is
Piers and The Edge. The understanding of the city as
hardly compensating. As a consequence the parasitical
a conglomerate of separated but accessible functions
relation of the new developments towards the city makes
connected through public space is therefore attacked
it incompatible with the existing structures.
by the integration of functions into exclusive space.
Through their size and agglomeration The Northside
Referring to the rise of market-driven urbanization Aureli
Piers and The Edge are not merely single buildings, but
describes this situation as the “constant dialectic of
form a new part of the city. At the same time they are
integration and closure”.22 Whereas the exclusive sphere
not conceived as parts of the city, but as a product for
of the The Northside Piers and The Edge has integrated
the real estate market of New York City. By privatizing
restaurants, bars, lounges, spas, gyms, swimming
traditional elements of the public city developments
facilities, children’s playrooms, cinemas and sports
like The Northside Piers and The Edge are creating an
grounds (see image 17), only a few restaurants, a dog
exclusive sphere, favouring the enclave over the city.
walker shop, a Duane Reade store and a CVS Pharmacy
17 Amenities in The Edge
22 Pier Vittorio Aureli: The Possibility of an Absolute Architecture, p. xi, Cambridge 2011. 23 Paul Harris: Brooklyn’s Williamsburg becomes new front line of the gentrification battle, The Guardian, 11 December 2010. 24 Charles V. Bagli: As a Neighborhood Shifts, the Chain Stores Arrive, The New York Times, 11 November 2010.
Today generification is a major force of change in Williamsburg. Having deindustrialisation, rezoning and above all the continuing gentrification paved its way, generification must be regarded as a phenomenon of late gentrification. It drastically accelerates the on-going increase of real estate value and thereby promotes the problem of displacement that the area is facing since gentrification has started to transform the neighbourhood. The social antagonism within the community has become more complex. The traditional conflict between lower income local residents and middle class gentrifiers has turned into a conflict between the new upper income residents and both middle class, as well as lower income
residents. Through the clash of generic architecture and
corporate retail against existing structures and local
Multi-family walk up
identity, the divergence between the self-conceptions of
generifiers and gentrifiers becomes evident.
As shown, the new antagonism is not only a conflict
over residential space anymore, but also about industrial
and commercial space and therefore about whole urban
environments.25 From a spatial perspective, the heart
of the problem lies in the fact that the potentiality of a
public city is dismissed in favour of exclusiveness. The
18 Landuse in North-Williamsburg
incompatibility of generic urban structures has to be countered by stressing the idea of a continuation of what the legacy of an urban structure of a city such as New York––a structure which is conceived as a rich pattern of separated functions (see image 18), tied together through public space and eventually creating a rich diversity of both urban forms and urban functions, leading to greater diversity within public space––the fundamental quality of urban life.
25 Neil Smith in: In Williamsburg, rocked hard, The New York Times, 28 May 2011.
5.0. Critical Continuation of the City: A proposal for Williamsburgâ€™s Waterfront In the following I will propose an architectural project for an alternative development of Williamsburgâ€™s waterfront. The project aims to be highly compatible with the urban structure of Williamsburg, while yet being an independent and progressive proposal. The project sacrifices the possibility of being realistic in favour of a stronger expression of its conceptual ideas. In reference of the preceded analysis of the current condition of the Williamsburgâ€™s waterfront, the project is based on three points: 1.
The continuation of the city, as opposed to the enclave.
The architectural structure of the city, as opposed to the generic.
The contextualisation of the new within the old, as opposed to city without history.
1. The Continuation of the city Looking at the land use of the area between the waterfront and Bedford Avenue, we see a colourful pattern of diverse functions (see image 19). Taking this condition of diversity as principal quality, the project tries to continue this rich pattern to the waterfront in order to create a vivid mix of spatial functions (see image 20), assembled within public space and thereby inverting the spatial logic of the existing waterfront developments. On this way it is also possible to keep the traditional use of manufacturing at the waterfront, although in smaller scale, reflecting its decreased but still existing relevance. Instead of applying the existing size of blocks and thereby its grid, the proposal establishes a much small grid that allows a combinatorial game of placing deliberately freestanding buildings. As a result, the amount of public space in between those buildings increases tremendously, creating a medina-like structure of lanes and small squares.
Parking 1-2 family Multi-family walk up Multi-family elevator Residential/Commercial Office/Commercial Industrial/Manufacturing Sports/Leisure Public Facilities Park 19 Landuse in North-Williamsburg after the rezoning
20 Landuse in North-Williamsburg after the rezoning
2. The Architectural Structure In order to provide infrastructure and to continue the road network the proposal creates a second level of scale, the projects takes up the concept of the superblock (see image 21). The superblock antagonistically relates to the small-scale grid mentioned above, by framing the loose continuation city and thereby manifesting the role of architecture as a means of separation and definition. The slender, frame-like buildings of the superblock contain residential space, which thereby becomes intensely linked to both the streetscape as well as the urban condition of the public space inside the large-scale courtyards (see image 22). Thus, residential space is no longer isolated, as within the disconnected waterfront high-rises, but exposed to the public and vice versa, stimulating a stronger engagement with the city and its community. In order to create vivid spaces withine the residential frames, the “courtyard”-buildings are containing public functions, such as office space, commercial space, manufacturing, public institutional space, leisure and recreational spaces or parking. In order to avoid closure (not to be confused with separation) the residential slabs stand on columns. The resulting colonnades below the residential space allow permeability between the “courtyards” and the streets. The edge lenght of the Residential Frames measures 460 feet.
Parking 1-2 family Multi-family walk up Multi-family elevator Residential/Commercial Office/Commercial Industrial/Manufacturing Sports/Leisure Public Facilities Park 21 Landuse in North-Williamsburg + Residential Frames
22 Floor plan type of residential slab
3. The Contextualisation Rejecting the idea of the city without history, the project opens up a brutally honest dialogue between the existing buildings and the projection of the plan (see image 23). As a critique of generification, the space around The Nothside Piers and The Edge will be flooded, so that the buildings become islands, disconnected from environment. As monuments of failure they will become part of the waterfront ensemble, being literal enclaves. In order to keep the unique character of the industrial character, all buildings older than the rezoning will be preserved and used within the concept of the continued city. The simple grid also allows incorporating other spaces, which are defined by the condition of the site, such as parks, beaches and reservoirs. Hence the contextualisation leads to a fragmentation of the structure that is defined through the continuation of the city as well as its architectural structuring.
Parking 1-2 family Multi-family walk up Multi-family elevator Residential/Commercial Office/Commercial Industrial/Manufacturing Sports/Leisure Public Facilities Park 23 Landuse of the proposal (Small grid + Frames + Context)
24 Residential frame + Public court
27 Montage detail
Sports grounds Urban park Colonnades Pre-Zoning building River park Small squares and lanes Residential slab
28 Street corner
29 Montage detail
Preserved warehouses Generification Memorials Reused industrial buildings Floating industrial tanks Reservoire Floating pool
Bibliography: Aureli, Pier Vittorio: The Possibility of an Absolute Architecture, Cambridge 2011. Curran, Winifred: â€˜From the Frying Pan to the Ovenâ€™: Gentrification and the Experience of Industrial Displacement in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Urban Studies, Vol. 44, No. 8, July 2007 Lees, Loretta: Gentrification, New York 2008. Koolhaas, Rem: S, M, L, XL, New York 1995. Marcuse Peter: Islands of Decay in Seas of Renewal: Housing Policy and the Resurgence of Gentrification, in: Housing Policy Debate. vol. 10, 1999 Smith, Neil: Gentrification and uneven development, in Economic Geography, 1982 Smith, Neil: Gentrification of the City, Winchester 1986.