Coney Island, NY
Master dissertation project, Fourth semester, International Master, Sint-Lucas, KU Leuven
Mental map of Coney Island
Mixed media: Hand-drawing edited on photoshop (100 cm x 300 cm)
(project still in process...)
The visits at Coney Island during 2014, due to my participation at the workshop “Coney Island Revisited” and the study trip of the Master disserta- tion project “Streetscape Territories around Coney Island Creek: Resilient Strategies”, have provided me with excellent opportunities to experience, feel and understand Coney Island, discovering its beauties but also the challenges that the area and its citizens are facing. The challenges, devel- oped in the initial chapters of the present paper, are essentially social problems: the disconnected communities, unemployment, criminality and the consequences of the economic crisis. There are also important environmental challenges, notably related to the water: the risk of flooding and of storms and the continuously rising sea level. However, Coney Island is a vivid and interesting area by the sea with great potential.
The analysis of streetscapes was used as a tool to get a deeper understanding of Coney Island. The focus of this part of the analysis was the extension of the streetscape into the existing waterscape. Since the area of interest is located around Coney Island Creek, the currently neglected waterscape was naturally included in the master plan of the proposal. The problems of connectivity between the two sides of the Creek, due to a dysfunctional mobility system based mainly on cars, have been addressed by a proposed network of interventions along the waterfront, each one providing a platform that enables and encourages a new water mobility network based on boats. The urban strategy has as ultimate goal the revitalisation of the Creek through this system of punctual intervention placed on strategic points in the transition moment between water and land. Enabled accessibility to the waterscape provides inhabitants with a better proximity to the water both in terms of view and use. The platforms and the water network are designed to exist both in wet and dry scenarios, since they are not only resistant to flood scenarios, but can also be used as evacuation routes in emergency situations.
Each one of the three interventions communicates harmonically and with respect to the existing fabric of its surroundings. For instance, the wa- ter-related centre is spread and well-adapted in the lush natural landscape, while the Art & Culture centre is noticeably elevated from the ground level, communicating with the scale and the fabric of its surroundings. The main structure in every intervention provides adaptable spaces offering the flexibility to house a new programme in the future.
The proposed programmatic functions articulate a new stronger community, through education and knowledge exchange. Practical skills related to water (swimming, fishing and awareness of the water-related challenges), to food (cultivation, cooking and sharing food) and to arts and culture are the tools that will be provided to the citizens acting as a catalyst for the creation of a self-sufficient community, able to handle the issues of unemployment and low education. Community will be given new spaces for social interaction, which will strengthen the ties between citizens, thus responding drastically to the existing problems of disconnected communities and criminality.