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Designer, activist, academic,
and author of Lo—TEK,
Design by Radical Indigenism.
A leading expert of Lo—TEK nature-based technologies for climate-resilience.
Her eponymously named studio brings creative and conceptual, interdisciplinary thinking to urban projects and corporate clients interested in systemic and sustainable change. Julia regularly teaches urban design at Harvard and Columbia University.
Location: New York City, NY
Project Team: Julia Watson
Client: NYCDOT & Van Alen Institute
The Grove is conceived as a dynamic, community-focused process that introduces growth, change, and shifting identities through an elevated bamboo forest into the heart of New York City - through both a permanent intervention and constant change.
Our proposal creates a symbolic entrance - a circular point of focus, a gateway that is inclusive in motion, representing a cyclical forest of life that emulates the growth, change, and shifting identities of Chinatown and the other celebrated neighborhoods. Our design proposal offers various ways for the community to participate in the celebration of life through the varied exchanges between the plaza and the adjacent business owners and lifelong residences. The interface, an interactive, programmable band on the periphery of the structure, would house the functions of the existing kiosk (an info booth, signage, maps, and interactive displays), takes on a new function of being a programmable surface for the community and surrounding institutions to engage the public with – allowing new ways for both locals and visitors to experience the district.
The introduction of the forest is almost an act of anti-architecture and of creative contrast. The Grove is conceived as a dynamic, community-focused process that introduces growth, change, and shifting identities through a bamboo forest into the heart of New York City. However, given the fact that air pollution is an invisible killer to almost 7 million premature deaths each year, we seek a design solution that would not only create a much-needed air-purifying solution but also an urban space that would transform the heat-absorbing asphalt and concrete surfaces into an oasis. The use of bamboo as the primary building material helps to evoke Chinese heritage and processes of change over time, while inherently being something that can be understood and appreciated by all people — because, after all, Nature is universal.
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