Our studio is invested in exploring diverse and emergent landscape typologies which serve both as aesthetic experiences in the cityscape and also function as integral components of a radical green urban infrastructure.
From Open Sewer to Open Resource: favela Pica-Pau
Future Green Studio has teamed up with Pratt Institute PSPD graduate student Leonel Lima Ponce to facilitate and further Ponce’s research and development of a sustainable infrastructure project in favela Pica-Pau. Pica-Pau sits north of the polluted Iraja River. During storms the main street in the community is often flooded with sewage partially due to the combined sewer system. Pooling of sewage in the narrow alleys provides a breeding ground for diseases and what little fresh water there is, the community distrusts. Drastic changes in elevation in the northern part of the site creates “areas of risk” characterized by informal water and sewerage infrastructure, open sewers, and eroding hillsides. Leonel Ponce worked with NGO Catalytic Communities and the Pica Pau community to establish the critical areas on site, potential risks and possible solutions through a program of participatory workshops.
In late March, 2013, a transect walk of favela Pica-Pau was guided by a small group of residents. In it, a series of maps were drawn to document community perspectives of infrastructural deficits in real time, using universal iconography that could be easily understood by all. Gathered data was then charted in a matrix by infrastructure type and geographical zone, in order to understand community priorities. The walk induced interest from observing residents, who later had the opportunity to contribute to the discussion through a visioning workshop.
On Tuesday 21st May, FGS hosted a design charrette with Rupal Sanghvi from HealthXDesign and environmental engineers Eric Rothstein and Ian Lipsky from EDesign Dynamics alongside Leonel Lima Ponce to discuss some of the key health and infrastructural issues in the Pica-Pau community. Leonel Lima Ponce presented his previous work in participatory infrastructure planning, which generated some of the ideas for a more pointed future design workshop. FGS envisage this project as a great opportunity to take more agency in creating green infrastructure by facilitating a collaboration at the confluence of Science, design and policy.
To have an eidetic memory is to possess the ability to recall memories with extreme precision, not just a visual memory but an all-encompassing multi-sensory experience. This affects a rare number of people. Our daily saturation of visual material only separates us further from those that possess an eidetic memory. In response to this, we are developing unique multi-sensory interventions in an attempt to encode memories that are more encompassing, closer to that of the eidetic.
Our first exploration is the modular concrete paver, found all over the city and insignificant in visual appeal. Through specialist surface treatment we have emphasized the material’s properties by expressing its responsiveness to moisture. It reveals patterns in response to the moisture content in the atmosphere, heightening the senses of the passer-by; in turn imprinting the moment on their mind.
Stormwater Management through Linking Rooftop Detention and Streetscape Bioretention
In 2011, Future Green Studio conducted research concerning the feasibility and impacts of the construction of two sidewalk bioretention swales in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Gowanus. In 2012, we expanded this research to include a blue roof catchment system which, in addition to sidewalk and roadway runoff, would deliver stormwater to the bioswales.
The proposed project innovatively expands research on the currently underexplored subject of bioswales by studying the performance benefits associated with linking rooftop detention with streetscape bioretention. In future visions for the project, permeable decking is constructed above the blue roof adding a productive value to the already high-performance roof.
The proposed location for these bioswales is in the heavily polluted neighborhood of Gowanus on 3rd St. between Hoyt and Bond. The sloped geology of this location leads stormwater over contaminated land and directly into the Gowanus Canal which suffers frequent Combined Sewage Overflow events. By directing that water through a bioswale, stormwater can be filtered of contaminates through the soil and the sewer system is allowed more time to process stormwater without being as overwhelmed.
Located near the 3rd St bridge which connects the east and west sides of the canal, the area is a key thoroughfare for vehicle, foot, and bike traffic, therefore making it an ideal area for a high-visibility intervention.
Stormwater Management, Energy Efficiency, & the AEA Green Roof
The project we took on in the Bronx at the Association for Energy Affordability (AEA) affords an ideal case study on how stormwater management and energy efficiency can be addressed by the confluence of science, design, and policy.
Concerned with the holistic performance of a building in an urban
context, the project utilizes an array of performative and productive
strategies. Our studio designed and installed the extensive green roof
and vertical greening structures – a living wall and green
screens. AEA, themselves at the forefront of the green industry,
integrated productive components into their building such as solar
panel arrays, solar thermal hot water, and solar tubes that pull
natural daylight into the interior spaces.
The project’s emphasis on metrics and performance testing is
distinctive. Monitoring stations have been set up to collect data
about stormwater runoff and green roof retention levels. For instance,
the extensive green roof uses a patchwork planting plan which acts as
test plots for different native plant communities. The climatic
preferences of these native plants in the wild correspond to their
placement on the AEA rooftop with its analogous microclimates. This
planting strategy will be analyzed post-installation for its
stormwater retention capabilities.
Besides confronting frequent ambiguity about what sustainability means
in terms of numbers, the collection of data is necessary to influence
policy – the key to affecting wide-scale adoption of green
infrastructure design. Currently, the motor to implement lags behind
the available technology and skills of scientists, engineers,
architects and landscape architects. We see particular relevance and
promise in this project for producing verifiable, quantitative results
that speak to the impact of integrated, high-performance design.
With all of the available roof space and vacant lots in New York City estimated to equal thirteen Central Parks in area, the potential to
transform our cities from grey to green is immense. Our studio is
invested in exploring diverse and emergent landscape typologies which
not only serve as aesthetic backgrounds to the cityscape, but also
function as integral components of a radical green urban
As a lens for understanding how different typologies function, we find
particular utility in classification by its performative and/or
productive contribution. Performative typologies can be characterized
by their capacity to retain (e.g. storage of rainwater for gradual and
subsequent release) or to remediate (e.g. decontamination of soil).
Productive typologies have the ability to yield consumptive goods
(e.g. food) or generate energy (e.g. solar or wind).
This is the principal organizing framework for a course being taught
by FGS principal/founder David Seiter this coming spring at Pratt.
Through a patchwork of productive and performative landscape
typologies – such as the ecological green roof, the street tree
orchard, and the urban micro farm – new paradigms are being
created for urban public space that are not limited to the
prototypical landscapes of the park or garden.
The course draws upon the studio’s own research interests in
Performative-retain : green roofs, brown roofs, green cloaks, street
bioswales, vertical living walls/structures