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Pinch and Release
Urban Lagoons and Channels

Feb-May 2020, 4 months,  YSOA

Site: New Haven, CT 
Type : Civic, Mix-use, Residential

Group Academic Project
Collaborator: Ashton Harrell, Shikha Thakali

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        This project transforms an estuarial strait, commonly referred to as the Harlem River, into a series of lagoons and channels to construct new grounds and estuarial habitats for housing and recreation. By infilling portions of this post-industrial channel, we can create new superblocks of housing and recreational spaces for both the Bronx and Manhattan. The new acreage formed from this targeted process of infilling establishes new opportunities for living along and within a dynamic estuary.

         We create multiple lagoons and connect them with narrower estuaries, enabling the river to maintain its natural flow. We create density along with the nodes while allowing the lagoons to take and maintain their natural state. The housing, composed of elevated bar buildings that are organized perpendicular to the existing Harlem River edge, mediate between the existing street edge and this new public waterfront in the Bronx and Manhattan. By undoing the twentieth-century hardscaped boundaries of the Harlem River and re-naturating its edges, this project not only creates a new waterfront with public amenities for both boroughs but also establishes a new model of living, one of the urban estuary. 

        These new raised residential, commercial, and institutional bars extend out into the river, allowing the occupants to absorb a new way of life on an urban waterfront. The landscape is critical to the inhabitation of our project. To achieve this diverse way of life, semi-private pocket parks reside between every two building bars. This not only links two bars together, providing a communal space but also establishes a larger living orientation between bars, and a juxtaposition between public and private. However, on the transverse side of each bar is a public through-way park that links and provides access from the Bronx and Harlem urban centers to the larger interior estuary park. This estuary park would be an ecology that is typically foreign to an urban context. It will provide inhabitants and visitors with a multiplicity of the park, and civic amenities. Sports courts, water recreation, boardwalks, public pools, beaches are speckled throughout the estuary, allowing visitors to experience this ecology in multiple ways, while still allowing the estuary to perform naturally.

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