8 september 2011

suckerPUNCH: get punched by Design

This extremely designerly website is a helping hand for young designers and architects. Architecture Firms can post job opportunities and almost all of the proposals deal with unique projects. By organizing competitions on various themes in and around New York City, SuckerPUNCH is trying to promote design and architecture. It is also a medium for graduating students to "publish" their hard work and share it with others. Definitely worth checking out and maybe our own thesis's could one day be published here? Visit the website here.

Lavender Lake Artist's Factory
One of the competitions that was held, concerned a site at Red Hook bordered by the Gowanus canal to the East, a privately owned building to the South, Smith street to the west, and 5th street to the North. Gowanus canal borders vibrant Brooklyn neighborhoods of Red Hook, Park Slope and Caroll Gardens. Due to heavy industrial pollution in the past, the canal got a noticable purple "sheen" and this lended the nickname lavender lake. During the beginning of the twentieth century, the canal was one of the busiest waterways in the United States. But in the 1950's most of the industry abandoned the area whilest leaving behind a canal filled with sewage, fuel oil, scrap metal and other pollutants, and surrounded by vacant warehouses and "scrap heaps". In 1975 the site was taken over by the City and declared a "public space". The goal was for it to become a public recreational park but it has been sitting behind locked gates ever since.

Aerial view of Gowanus canal with East River in background

Several years ago a new interest in the area arose because of booming activity in the neighborhoods so plans were made to revive the canal surroundings. Soon enough several bars, music venues, outdoor event spaces and artists studios sprawled next to Gowanus canal (bar tano - the bell house - the yard - the sweater factory). Zoning allows for the site to be build op to 12 stories wich presents a wide range of possibilities for future development as soon as the environmental cleanup of the canal is completed:

"On March 2, 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) declared the Gowanus as a Superfund site, ushering in nearly 12 years of studies and work to dredge the contaminated mud at a cost of $500 million. The city is also at work on a three-year, $150-million project to clean the water by rehabilitating the canal’s flushing tunnel and pumping station. A city rezoning proposal to add residential to the manufacturing zone is currently on hold while the agency decides how to move forward and how the federal cleanup designation would impact appropriate redevelopment and remediation." 

"Public Space" site

The competition proposed a new artist factory for the new public space site. The designers were asked to generate a proposal that houses creative production and attracts visitors to the new area. The factory itself had to contain private/shared art studios, a storefront gallery/bar, analog/digital shops and live/work spaces for artists. The original goal of the site, a public space, was an absolute requirement for the proposals and had to be carefully integrated in the design as a programmatic part of the whole. 
Here are two of the submitted designs I found most interesting:

Design Board by David Jaubert

Design Board by Andrew Brown

On the suckerPUNCH website you can review most of the submitted proposals along with other competitions held in previous years. They also have a flickr page with the top20 proposals organized per competition and downloadable in high quality. 

All images courtesy of suckerPUNCH Daily

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