Archipelago of Constellations
Fani Christina Papadopoulou
There is underutilized capital to be found in the island complex in the Boston Harbor. The islands are astonishing resources, in terms of their natural resistance to flooding,the existing infrastructure and their diverse landscapes and ecosystems. There is also underutilized capital in Columbia Point, where UMass Boston is situated, an educational institution that can serve as a radiant anchor node to a network of uses and programmatic developments. Not to mention the human and financial capital that goes along with major educational and financial institutions.
The problem of underutilized resources goes hand in hand with the lack of a proper transportation and infrastructural system to connect the islands to the mainland. The result is that the islands are only employed as a tourist attraction.
-Activate the Islands: Programmaticaly enhance them according to their current state of infrastructure, position and natural resources. Long Island becomes the main node on the sea, with a strong pole forming on Thomson as well, complete with housing, retail and limited office space. Spectacle becomes a tourist attraction and celebrates its artificial nature by forming the “Twin Peaks” of Boston, providing astonishing views to the rest of the Archipelago. Lovells and Gallops become parks, with hiking paths and recreational activities, while Georges Island gets a tourist importance thanks to the relics of a fortress.
-Regenerate and enhance the mainland “Anchor Node” by densifying housing units and educational facilities on Columbia Point. Encourage offices and corporations to relocate and establish offices next to the university.
-Connect the network: Transportation will play a key role in the project’s success, both in terms of connecting all the nodes of the Archipelago with the mainland “Anchor”, but also in terms of connecting the city of Boston with Columbia Point. A ferry network is established, with main Terminal on Columbia Point, Long and Thomson Islands, that runs 24/7 every 30 minutes. In conjunction with a new T station to the Terminal on Columbia Point, a network is formed
Who influences you graphically?
I explore graphic representation always in response and in relation to the project that’s being represented. The most important influence for a drawing or an illustration always stems from inherent or contextual qualities of the project I am working on as opposed to a representational technique, style or typology.
For “resource.full” I referenced nautical maps, cartography and graphic representations of island complexes across history and disciplines. I studied old and contemporary maps and found that there is a rich layering of information that occurs on cartographic representations of islands, one that I really wanted to utilize to narrate the thesis of the Boston Archipelago.
What dictated the choice of the square format? Why is the masterplan an exception to this?
There are in total 34 islands forming the Boston Harbor Island Archipelago. The narrative text reveals the holistic, twofold response to the whole complex:
1. an infrastructural response that manifests in a network of public transportation via ferry lines that run regularly and on a daily basis on charted routes between the islands and the mainland. This network is expected to connect the islands between each other and with terra firma in as reliable a way as the Boston subway system.
2. a programmatic revitalization that utilizes Columbia point as the urban anchor on the mainland on one hand and envisions a much more substantial role for the islands on the other. (as opposed to their limited recreational and exclusive use today)
The masterplan as a drawing serves the purpose of illustrating the infrastructural aspect of “resource.full” : it depicts the whole complex, together with its mainland context and charts out all the ferry routes- while providing time estimations for each trip as well as distances between destinations. It serves as proof of concept that no island is further away than a few equivalent subway stops. It also vividly illustrates how the area of those islands and their proximity to one another and to Boston makes them really valuable resources for the city.
The square drawings on the other hand are supposed to form a matrix of 9 islands. When viewed all together in a matrix, they are supposed to read as parts of a system, as equally important pieces of a puzzle. The square format is generic enough, while also allowing for a matrix to form in equal terms, so no gravity is given disproportionately to one component: The thesis of “resource.full” is that we need to start acknowledging, recording and making the most of our natural resources, in a way that is sensitive, responsible and responsive. This attitude is non-partial to which island is better suited to serve a certain purpose. Each one of the islands has distinct qualities and the point is for each one to be allowed to operate to its full potential as a node in this archipelago. Being resource.full means taking advantage of a territory that is resource full, as much as it means being resourceful where resources are scarce.
Although you call for greater connectivity the islands are revealed as solitary- how could the drawings be used as a tool to show the new connected network?
This is in part answered above. The islands are illustrated on their own, as individual components, however in each one of their individual drawings, the ferry lines persevere. These are directly transferred from the masterplan- where the connections are made clear and the scale allows for a wholesale appreciation of the inter-connectivity that occurs when the distances and travel times are considered. Even though the purpose of the individual drawings is to create a personalized exposé on each of the islands, the element of connectivity is graphically present. Also, it is important to note that the decision to create a mostly invisible- non physical connection that relies on public transportation is a conscious and deliberate one. It can be implemented easily, as an extension of the system that is currently in place, it is feasible and is much more flexible and adaptable to various urban circumstances than a physical/architectural connection, such as the Moon Island bridge that recently got demolished.
To what extent do you agree with the notion a map is not a territory? how do you position yourself in terms of revealing your proposal solely through maps?
Studying maps and cartography as graphical precedent for “resource.full” has been fascinating. Maps have over the years developed techniques and typologies for capturing and conveying many layers of information that transcend the spatial. That is not to say that they are not bound by their nature to only a limited representation of place. Maps, much like architectural drawings observe limitations on how accurately or truly they capture their represented matter. However, within the conventions of mapping and cartography, I attempted to represent multiple facets of the Boston Harbor Islands: bathymetry, natural and artificial characteristics, area, topography, points of interest, arxhitectural interventions, landscape, vegetation, and so on. I believe that visually, “resource.full” has paid respect to the the rich cartographic history by overlaying every new reading of the amazing resources that are the Boston Harbor Islands on the same map, resulting in drawings that represent as much as narrate.