Swimming to Manhattan Competition

The Winter term for the third year students of the Academy of Architecture in Amsterdam is organized as a competition with twelve teams, a critical jury and an actual prize. In two intensive weeks, interdisciplinary (Architecture, Urbanism and Landscape Architecture) teams worked on intelligent and imaginative perspectives on New York’s Upper Bay.

All the entries are slated to be exhibited in the New York Architectural center this June 2011 in the context of a collaboration with ARCAM, the Amsterdam Architectural Center.



Red Point Park: Aquapuncture on the Waterfront

by Egle Suminskaite, Marit Janse, Txell Blanco Diaz, Jacques Abelman, and Simona Serafina

Future climate change demands a radical adaptation strategy around the Upper Bay, the main body of water directly south of Manhattan. With an estimated one to three meter rise in global sea levels by the end of this century, the edges of Manhattan and the surrounding area will be under water. The “aquapuncture” intervention of the Red Point Parks strategy deals directly with water rise by a landscape-based transformation of the waterfront.  Our point of departure is water quality and the interaction between the urban fabric and the ecological system of the bay. Combined sewage outflows currently pour raw sewage into the bay every time it rains, destroying its ecological and recreational potential. Our proposal begins inland, with a “greenline” network of shallow water catchment channels in the streets that catch and purify storm water with reeds and grasses. The greenline network connects inner urban areas to the bay and absorbs rain water, diverting it from the sewage system. Bike lanes and pedestrian paths along the greenline network lead to the water’s edge. The channels widen at the end to allow the tides to enter the system.

Red Point Parks are a network of access points around the altered urban edge of the renamed Central Bay. Wetlands now occupy the flood zones, creating a living storm buffer.  Some buildings have been preserved by stripping their first floors and strengthening the foundations. New piers extend from these access points through eelgrass and fish nursery zones, into deeper waters where oyster reefs have been re-established.

Five new water-based transport hubs create a water highway around the bay, giving way to a quieter park-like zone in the center. The restored estuary ecology supports a variety of programs, from scuba diving and windsurfing to new museums and restaurants. In addition there are small artificial beaches at Governor’s Island and the shallows facing Brooklyn.

The aquapuncture of the Red Point Parks responds to climate change to transform the city– creating a new urban edge and a living estuary whose heart is pristine water. The park is a membrane between the adapted urban fabric and the open water of the restored bay. This natural edge is multifunctional, used for recreation and as a storm buffer protecting the city, as well as a nature reservoir. In this sense, the Red Point Park strategy allows the entire bay to function as a park.


Reflecting New York

by Jeroen Schoots, Marlies de Rijke, Midaugas Savickas, Geert den Boogerd, Marc Keizer

From the airplane we already saw it: the blue centre of New York. The new waterpark in the Upper Bay reflecting the sun in many sparkles and the patchwork was truly unreal. Subtle nuances in colour and in reflection of light in water made a marvellous mosaic.

When coming closer, I see more and more differences. We navigate through waterstreets between the waterplanes. There are two broad ways for the big ferries, in other streets you can just stroll along. At the Waterzoo we get out of the boat and see giant turtles and dolphins while walking under water through glass corridors.

It is striking that even from up close the mosaic of waterpark is elusive. We locate the waterstreets by other boats and different kinds of demarcations: buoys, nets and floating walkways. Sometimes the water changes colour through plants or a difference in depth. In the south we pass a field with water lilies and experiments for sustainability. Near Manhattan the water is vibrant: events, fountains and spontaneous parties are taking place, people are sporting in and on the water.

In the night, when the park disappears, I will wonder: is New York under water?


New York cannot afford to focus on leisure

by Hein van Lieshout, Ivar van der Zwan, Leen Vanthuyne, Donals Marskamp, Egle Matulaityte

New York is on the way down. The city’s financial industry is subject of heated discussion and the United States are losing ground to China. Every year New York grows by about 90.000 people and already the infrastructure is at its limits. The rising sea level combined with an increasing possibility of hurricanes poses a serious threat to the city.

And we are asked to think about leisure.

But New York was not built on leisure. It was built on hard work. We boldly face the future of the city and propose to instigate a sixth borough on the water; a new community for hard working people. A place where the New York of the future can develop. With clean and healthy space for new people and new industries. And without the handicaps of the old city. To make the plan feasible we combine this new borough with a storm surge barrier across the Upper bay, a tunnel for the city’s subway system and a cargo tunnel (following existing plans). The plan proposes a grid that allows the space above the upper bay to be developed freely according to the typical New York air rights  system.


A n g s t . . .

by Atilla Vredenburg, Martijn Tjassens Keiser, Marc Brummelhuis

Donderdag 11 november 2044, een mega tsunami raakt met een 50 meter hoge golf de oostkust van Amerika. Niets is bestand tegen deze natuurkracht, die aan de andere kant van de Atlantische oceaan is ontstaan door een aardbeving bij de Canarische eilanden. Dit is een van de vele doemscenarios die door wetenschappers is voorspeld. Deze natuurrampen bereiken steeds vaker het witte doek en al snel ontstaat er een wereldweide angstcultuur. Dit plan speelt in op deze cultuur door de angst tastbaar te maken in de stad.

De angst wordt in dit ontwerp vertaald door het tegenovergestelde van angst, de Redding. Door zichtbaar te maken dat de bewoners moeten worden gered, zullen ze zich bewuster worden van de dreiging die boven hun hoofd hangt. De Redding is vertaald in een batterij aan bollen die in het verlengde van het grid zijn geplaatst zodat ze optimaal in het zicht liggen van de bewoners. Deze arken vormen een stille voorbode van het gevaar dat dreigt.

Nadat er zich een grote ramp heeft afgespeeld zullen de bollen zich verspreiden over heel New York. De bollen hebben verschillende afmetingen waardoor ze vanwege de verandering van dieptes in het water, hoogte van het land en breedte van de streets and avenues verder of minder ver New York zullen infiltreren.

De bollen zelf zijn opgedeeld in twee werelden. De eerste wereld waar de New Yorker zich in begeeft zijn lege vloeren. Deze lege ruimtes zullen toegankelijk worden op het moment dat het noodplan in werking treed en in normale toestand alleen een visuele relatie met de gebruiker aangaan. De leegte is een weerspiegeling van de angst en het doemscenario dat New York zal gaan treffen. Eenmaal voorbij deze ruimtes begeef je je in een stille serene ruimte die aan de ene kant uitzicht biedt over het water en aan de andere kant een blik terugwerpt de stad in. In deze publieke plek kan je je terug trekken van het lawaai en de hektiek van de stad.

De bol biedt bescherming tegen de chaos van het stadsleven als tot de dag dat het water New York zal weg vagen.


New York Upper Bay Welcomes the water

by Tijl Hekking, George Justus, Graham Kolk, Luc Spee

With this proposal, the design group acknowledges the most urgent challenges facing the nation’s largest city: sea-level rise resulting from global warming. Without focusing only on climate issues, the design group sees opportunities to meet with other important issues, as written in New York’s Climate Plan PlaNYC 2030.

The increasing change of being hit by a hurricane is one of these issues: scientists predict the strength and frequency of these hurricanes while increase in the near future. The design group proposes a horseshoe shaped barrier, just behind the Narrows. Within the horseshoe a natural environment is created with marshland (reacting like a sponge by extreme flood risings) and tree plantation (absorbs the storm’s energy). This natural environment also offers a new vast recreational area for both the city of New York as Jersey City.

With the relative safety of the barrier a new urban program is proposed; floating housing alongside a representative waterfront, connected by ferries and light rail systems only. This new urban area focuses on public transportation and thereby contributes to a environmental solutions for high density areas reducing carbon emissions.

Behind the barrier a sheltered bay will be created and the existing waterfronts will be protected from extreme flood risings, although the project group believes the waterfronts cannot be protected from rising sea levels. Therefore should a fictive border be drawn behind the endangered waterfronts, which marks the border new urban development. Within the overflowing waterfronts a new natural environment takes over, using or giving up the existing program. Focusing on recreational activities, the new waterfronts and the barrier make the Upper Bay more attractive for different kinds of recreation.

The project group proposes to connecting the exciting public transport network from the western (Jersey City, Bayonne, Hoboken) to the eastern shore (Brooklyn, Long Island). With the enhancement of infrastructure and the development of new programs along the bay, not only the local economy will benefit from this improvement; we believe the entire region will benefit with this proposal.



by Martien van Vliet, Gertjan Vlaar, Katinka Pricken, Nidine Schiller

A park, hidden in the Upper Bay, that will secure the future of New York…

At the bottom of the Upper Bay there’s a mysterious, hidden park. A park like no other. Here you’ll find a world of opposites: you can experience the tides of the sea in a great and exciting way, where water flows over the walls and clatters to the ground. Contrary to this is the serenity you’ll find in the big apple orchard in the heart of the park.

When this Big Apple will be embraced by the New Yorkers, they will know this isn’t only a fantastic place to be, they will know their lives in New York depend on it. This Apple will protect the residents of New York against future flooding. The apple isn’t only an attraction, but it’s also a flexible flood barrier, that can be used when there’s a prediction that the water will reach to a dangerous level because of a coming storm. The skin of the apple consists of four enormous caissons, these make it possible that the whole apple will float when the reservoirs are emptied. In this mode the apple can be pushed to the submerged docks where it opens, and will be filled up with water again in order to secure to the ground and close the Narrows from the sea. From this moment on the Island which makes the whole construction stable is free; it can float around and becomes a visible island in the Upper Bay.

The apple leaf consists of two caissons and will close the East river. The caissons all have a emergency floater that will make sure that with rising waterlevels the water can’t enter the bay.When using the tides in a clever way the apple can be easily placed in the right position. This can take place within 24 hours. Because of the marine we suggest a shipping lock in the Kill van Kull.


Harvest Moon

by Margaux Platenburg, Nina Scherer, Marjan van Herpen, Femke Poppinga

The Upper Bay offers a great opportunity for a pioneering form of sea farming in close connection with the city’s population. In the heart of the NYC area we suggest a new kind of urban farm. Its foremost concern is the growing of water-based food and energy crops. But there are also functions related to research and education and certainly a recreational aspect. Bringing back nature that disappeared from the Bay will have a positive effect on the Bay’s ecosystem.

As they are floating in the water of the Bay, the sea farms will be independent from sea level rise and will move according to tides and currents. The farms consist of a system of islands made from plastic garbage locally harvested. The islands can be visited by boat or with the Staten-Island ferry which will stop there in regular intervals. Visitor can learn about mariculture, taste on the spot or take a swim in the floating pool.

At a first stage a small farmer community will be living on the sea farms and will maintain the different crops. It is estimated that due to the improving water quality in future stages the palette of products can be broadened and production augmented.



by Jim de Valk, Freek Waltmann, Andrew Page, Nico van der Schaaf

The Upper New York Bay is the Port of New York And New Jersey, which collects water fed by the Hudson and East River. The shores of Manhattan, Brooklyn and Staten Island are in direct relation with the Upper Bay, which gives these boroughs a unique waterfront. The Waterways of the Hudson, East River and Newark Bay intersect in the Upper Bay. This leads to many crossings of transportation, touring  and recreational vessels,  which is an important economic  entity for New York City.

It is therefore mandatory to keep these waterways deep enough to ensure enough clearance for the draft depth of the vessels.  The City of New York has been dredging the bay area to keep the waterways clean and deep enough to allow a continuous flow of nautical activities. However, the remainders of the dredges are dumped back in other parts of the bay area. One can image that this isn’t a long term solution as these dumping areas will eventually reach its maximum capacity. The scattered dumping also pollutes the harbor, which could have an environmental impact.

In order to clean the harbor and at the same time accommodate new dredged sludge, we selected an area outside of the waterways where the sludge could be buried. This area, located at the east side of the Upper Bay, is bounded by a constructed land forming a loop around the perimeter. This newly created island becomes part of the exiting chain of islands in the Upper Bay.

The east side of the island is characterized as a high density area with an urban program varying from housing to leisure facilities. This area is strongly linked to the Gowanus Bay shoreline and acts as a catalyst for new developments on this former industrial area. The west side of the island is an ecological area, enriched with native species, where nature will take its course. At low tides, the shore will ‘magically’ appear forming secluded islands with shallow banks within the harbor, while at high tides, they ‘mysteriously’ vanish.

Once the burial of the sludge reaches a certain elevation level, a sand cap will be placed on the top of the depot and acts as a lid. The inner water converts into a lake for recreation use.


A plan for a self-conscious New York City

by Marko Kramer, Jordy Herfst, Xander Speelman, Jesse de Bosch Kemper, Freddy Koelemeijer

In the history of America, Upper Bay once was an important starting point from which immigrants entered the United States.  Because of future developments along Upper Bay, New York and Jersey will emphatically be orientated towards the water, re-making Upper Bay a meaningful heart for the city. Our interventions, five three-dimensional infographic experiences, aim to create awareness of the approaching world problems that threaten New York as well. In addition, they create identity for Upper Bay and make it an extensive water park. The land value of the future developed urban edges will potentially increase.

The five interventions consist of grouped carbon fibre reinforced resin data-poles, which stand at varying heights and are anchored to the ground in concrete bases. The tapered poles sway in the wind to generate electricity, making every experience self-supporting; a LED-lamp at the top glows and dims relative to the amount of power generated. Every group of poles is logically located throughout the bay in order to establish relations with the quay and houses an experience centre that makes one of the world problems palpable. The non-programmed intermediate water surface is the water recreational equivalent of the lawns in Central Park.


Tides Square

by Jasper Hugtenburg, Wouter Hermans, Steven Broekhof, Immanuel Faustle

5.30 pm “It’s a beautiful afternoon in NYC. And it’s spring tide! It’s hard to imagine today, but a couple of years ago, nobody in NYC cared about the tides. That’s before ‘the raft’, as I usually call it, appeared in the Upper Bay. Some call it ‘the plug’, others call it ‘½ mile island’. Whatever the name, that thing really changed the way we think about water here. At springtide, when it slowly approaches The Battery, you can feel the excitement even here in Williamsburg. It’s almost scary. I took the subway to Lower Manhattan where I boarded one of the water cabs to bring me to that giant frisbee. Good thing I bought my ticket in advance, I don’t envy those people in the queues.”

7.30 pm “The tides have turned and we just passed Governor’s Island, that park looks so static from this dynamic environment. After a small snack (you can get anything in this place, it’s like a floating town) I quickly change and jump in the cool, fresh water. Makes me think about my grandmother’s stories of the old floating pools. Hard to imagine when you’re swimming in this ½ mile pool that they were really crowded in those days. It’s still a strange idea to be swimming in the natural resources of a floating power plant. It’s called osmosis; something to do with the difference between salt and fresh water. I always thought it was a fairy tale that you could turn water into energy. Hey, we just passed the Statue of Liberty!”

10.00 pm “Dark by now. That’s how I like this place best. The bright NY skyline is reflected in the still water of the Upper Bay. A huge lit freighter makes a turn around our island and navigates towards Kill Van Kull. I catch up with a friend who boarded from one of the Jersey piers where she lives. This thing floats past her bedroom window twice a day! I always meet acquaintances on the raft and judging from the loud talking around us, I’m not the only one.”

11.30 pm “Ready to leave for my hotel room, but I never want to miss the Verrazano bridge. This is the place were my great-grandparents must have once entered the country. And this is also the climax of my journey today: softly bumping into the ‘docking station’ where the energy surplus is given to the NY power grid and the fresh water stock is refilled. But most of all I realize what this thing means for 9.5 million NYers; protection against hurricane flooding by simply putting a plug into the Narrows. Is that brilliant or what?”


DELTAPOLIS – A dynamic leisure delta to escape the hectic metropolis

by Simon Christiaanse and Florant Marrot

The upper bay is subject to many dynamics and plays an important role in the history of New York. The mental image of upper bay focuses on iconic sights like the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan’s skyline. Nevertheless, the biggest part of the bay, seems to be less perceived and experienced. The main quality of this space is the possibility to escape the city and be immersed in a nautical world full of ephemeral and cyclic events. From the current, the wind and the tides to ferries, cargo vessels and floating elements.

The upper bay is located in the middle of the Hudson delta and the New York metropolis with about 19 million inhabitants and a density reaching 10,000 people per square kilometer. In the near future the pressure on bay will increase. The industrial coastline, characterized by constant exchange of land and water, will be redeveloped into residential areas, creating a growing demand for large-scale recreation. Commercial enterprises will claim the water and add new dynamics to the bay, but also constitute a threat to the excising qualities.

The challenge of this project is to maintain the possibility to escape the city at the bay within its new vibrant surroundings. The delta has to be accessible for inhabitants and tourists for recreational purposes. The landscape will provide many different ephemeral experiences you can’t have in the city. The landscape has to absorb all kind of events in a dispersed way to avoid the overcrowding of it.

Parallel to the urban dynamics we propose to design a dynamic ecological delta. This living landscape will evolve with the time because of the existing current and the tides. The soil rises above sea level following the existing underwater topography and historic coastlines of disappeared land. The green muddy landscape is an underground for a grid of water, parks, aquaculture, harbors and small scale facilities. This new grid will bring the bay beyond the limits of its coastline and will integrate it more strongly in the life of the New York’s citizens.


Time to waste

by Iris Wijn, Mirte Kooij, Gara Beukman, Anne Dessing

New York City produceert 23 ton afval per dag en de jaarlijkse kosten hiervan zijn meer dan $1 miljard. De stad is hiermee een van de meest afvalproducerende steden van de westerse wereld. Het afval wordt niet gescheiden ingezameld en 75% komt terecht op vuilstortplaatsen in Pennsylvania en andere staten. Om ondermeer milieutechnische en economische redenen is dit een gemiste kans. Het is goedkoper en milieuvriendelijker om het afval dichtbij te verwerken. Met behulp van moderne technieken kan het afval veel intelligenter worden verwerkt, en kan er duurzame energie worden gegenereerd.

There’s no time to waste. Met dit ontwerp worden de mogelijkheden van afvalverwerking en de mogelijkheden zichtbaar gemaakt aan de inwoners van New York. 84% van het afval kan verwerkt worden met behulp van de afvalvergascentrale. Het restproduct van de vergassing, COx, wordt in de glazen installatie door algen gezuiverd. Na het zuiveren kunnen de algen worden gebruikt als brandstof voor de ophaaldiensten. Dit ontwerp van afvalverwerking is op deze manier een gesloten systeem.

De ruimtelijke ingreep is relatief klein, om zo de kwaliteit van de open ruimte van de Upper Bay te behouden. Het systeem staat symbool voor een milieubewuster New York City. De installatie verstopt zich niet en voegt zich in de Upper Bay in de bestaande netwerken. Time to start wasting.

§ One Response to Swimming to Manhattan Competition

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: