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Inequality and Informality in New York: SITU Studio's Proposal for MoMA's Uneven Growth Exhibition

When it comes to discussing informal housing, it's usually cities in developing nations that take the spotlight - however, as revealed by SITU Studio's contribution to MoMA's Uneven Growth exhibition, issues of informal housing are indeed present in cities across the spectrum of development. In this interview, originally posted on Arup Connect as "Inequality and informality in New York," Sarah Wesseler speaks to SITU Studio principle Bradley Samuels about their unconventional proposal to address an issue that is frequently overlooked in New York city policy.

Uneven Growth: Tactical Urbanisms for Expanding Megacities, a newly opened exhibit at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, focuses on the complex relationship between urbanization and inequality. Over the 14-month period leading up to the launch, six interdisciplinary teams explored how these issues are playing out in different parts of the world, each developing an architectural response for a specific city.

Architecture firm SITU Studio (together with Cohabitation Strategies [CohStra]) was tasked with studying its home city, New York. (Arup transport planner Michael Amabile also consulted with the team.) We spoke with SITU principal Bradley Samuels about the project.

SITU documentation of shared housing in East New York, Brooklyn. Image © Jeyhoun Allebaugh SITU documentation of Jackson Heights apartment shared by nine people. Image © Jeyhoun Allebaugh Heat map of illegal conversions. Image © New York City Department of Buildings Drawing showing proposal for implementation of incremental community-driven growth. Image © SITU Studio

Five Design Teams Re-Envision New York's Public Libraries

There are 207 branch libraries in the city of New York, each providing a number of services to city residents. From the simple lending of books to adult technical literacy classes, these institutions are as vital as they were before the advent of the internet, and their attendance numbers prove it. Between the years of 2002 and 2011, circulation in the city’s library systems increased by 59%. Library program attendance saw an increase of 40%. In spite of this, library funding was cut by 8% within this same timeframe, which has made it difficult to keep many of the system’s buildings in good repair. To spark interest and support from city leaders, The Architectural League, in collaboration with the Center for an Urban Future, instigated the design study Re-Envisioning New York's Branch Libraries.

Sponsored by the Charles H. Revson Foundation, the study is the effort of five design teams chosen by the League. These teams - including MASS Design Group and SITU STUDIO - were charged with proposing exciting new library designs that follow the League’s themes of “integrating libraries into the city’s housing and community development goals, reconfiguring libraries to meet community needs, and developing new ideas for expanding the impact of branch libraries.” The teams presented their work at a January 4th symposium. See each of the proposals, as well as video footage of that symposium, after the break.

Concept for transit Outpost Performance library. Image Courtesy of team L+ Clinton Hill Branch Library concept. Image Courtesy of Andrew Berman Architect, Library Development Solutions, Neil Donnelly, AEA Consulting, Auerbach Pollock Friedlander Concept for Brighton Beach Library. Image Courtesy of team Marble Fairbanks with James Lima Planning + Development, Leah Meisterlin, and Special Project Office Conceptual drawing by MASS Design Group. Image Courtesy of the team

Six Teams Studying Uneven Growth to Exhibit Proposals for Expanding Megacities at MoMA

As the culmination of a 14-month initiative to examine new architectural possibilities for rapid growth in six megalopolises - Hong Kong, Istanbul, Lagos, Mumbai, New York, and Rio de Janeiro - the Museum of Modern Art is preparing to open Uneven Growth: Tactical Urbanisms for Expanding Megacities on November 22. The exhibition will present mappings of emergent modes of tactical urbanism from around the globe alongside proposals for a bottom-up approach to urban growth in the highlighted cities by six interdisciplinary teams made up of local practitioners and international architecture and urbanism experts.

Curator Pedro Gadanho, in collaboration with the Austrian Museum of Applied Arts (MAK), states: 

“The exhibition features design scenarios for future developments that simultaneously raise awareness of the prevailing inequalities in specific urban areas and confront the changing roles of architects vis-à-vis ever-increasing urbanization. Each team in the exhibition was asked to consider how emergent forms of tactical urbanism can respond to alterations in the nature of public space, housing, mobility, spatial justice, environmental conditions, and other major issues in near-future urban contexts.” 

A synopsis of each team’s work, after the break.

Architectural League Announces 2014 Winners of Emerging Voices Award

The Architectural League of New York has announced the winners of their 32nd annual Emerging Voices awards. The coveted recognition program spotlights eight emerging practitioners in North America whose “distinct design voices” have shown the potential to influence the disciplines of architecture, landscape design, and urbanism.

“The work of each Emerging Voice represents the best of its kind, and addresses larger issues within architecture, landscape, and the built environment,” described the League.  “This year, in particular, saw firms entrepreneurial in spirit, pursuing alternate forms of practice, often writing their own programs or serving as their own clients.”

This year’s eight Emerging Voices are...

Situ Studio's 'Heartwalk' Opens in Times Square

Just in time for Valentine's Day, Situ Studio has unveiled the fifth edition of Times Square’s annual Heartwalk installation - a heart-shaped “room within the city” made of salvaged Sandy debris. Inspired by the “collective experience of Hurricane Sandy and the love that binds people together during trying times,” Heartwalk begins as two weathered ribbons of wooden planks that gradually lift to form an illuminated heart enclosure in the middle of Duffy Square. 

People are already falling in love, as you can see Instagram's #heartwalktsq is filling up with images of elated New Yorkers standing within the “heart of New York City”.  

More images after the break...