Kig Veerasunthorn & Stephanie Tager
Columbia, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation
The History of Working and Living
The research began with the history of working and living culture. It wasn’t until the Industrial Revolution that it was predominantly universal that the word “house” referred to a place where one lived and worked. It was due to Industrial Revolution’s rise in machinery, technology, and infrastructure that living and working split.
Before this period, there were models such as the Medieval Peasant House (15th – 16th Century), which were wooden single-storied rectangular longhouses used as homes as well as for raising and sheltering the barn animals. The Medieval Merchant House (17th – 18th Century) were the work homes for the silk-weavers, watchmakers, and stocking-knitters. These work homes provided large windows for high levels of natural light, necessary for their trade. Then there was the Industrial Revolution, and a major split was generated between working and living, and it became optional to live where you work.
In the 18th century, there was the Royal Salt Works at Arc-et-Senans. Designed by Ledoux, the semicircular complex reflected hierarchical organization of work, and allows for all production to be overseen. Boarding Houses were popular during the 19th century. They offered single working urbanites a safe clean home, meals, job opportunities, and a built in sense of community.
Foxconn Dormitory is a complex in Shanghai that houses workers who spend 12 hours a day making Apple products. Dorms can house up to 6,000 workers at a time, and some rooms have up to 12 bunk beds.
One of the more contemporary situations of working and living is WeWork/ WeLive. The office spaces and living spaces are fully furnished, decorated, and set up with cable and internet at move-in. Everything is prepared for the user to move in. When examining WeWork/ WeLive, we tried to be critical. The company is said to design and rent out coworking and coliving spaces for startups and young twenty-something-year-olds. The company lures and promotes themselves with an emerging class and demographic for entrepreneurs, startups, and freelancers. Journalists claim that the company is so successful because it promotes itself as youthful, trendy, and having a start-up air to themselves. If the company was pitches as sold as a real estate development business venture, WeWork would not be as successful as it currently is. The building located on 110 Wall Street is compartmentalized in design. The top half is the living portion, and the bottom half is the working portion. With separate elevator shafts, there is no communication between the two halves. It functions as this isolated sphere, bounded from the public. Similar to Robert Owen’s New Harmony, within this WeWork “utopia”, it encloses residential, working, community, leirsure, etc.
One of the main reasons WeWork/ WeLive is so successful is because a large population of millennials don’t want to commute or live in the suburbs. So, this world where you can live and work simultaneously is appealing. However, one of the main reasons we were interested in WeWork and WeLive, is because we noticed that it only caters to one type of worker. It is for the people that need nothing more than a desk and a computer. In some sense, it is a successful model for young kids who want to collaborate and design an app, or people that want to be freelance writers.
We began thinking about expanding this similar working and living model to other types of workers. People who could benefit from collaboration and living and working in the same place, but also people that need more room and supplies than a desk and computer. A similar type of model could be expanded to Skill Workers, who are people whose resources for working include large spaces, studios, kitchens, storefront, laboratories, markets, trading, collaboration, etc.
When looking for a site, we wanted to find a place that had several vacant plots for these studio spaces. We began interested in Redhook, Brooklyn for several reasons. It has a history that traces back to working and living and manufacturing; only now, its becoming abandoned because the manufacturing has moved to New Jersey.
Redhook has also become this forgotten piece of land, disconnected from the rest of the city and transportation. We wanted to address temporality in the sense that Redhook is temporal, because of the issues it faces with flooding and rising water levels. Redhook is in this interim stage, where is wants to be developed and has the potential, but its problems with the water hinders it from growing.
We wanted to introduce different nodes and interventions throughout Redhook, occupying the water, coast, vacant plots, and abandoned buildings of the neighborhood. Each node has its own distinct characteristics and lifestyle, providing different classifications of working and living. Each node can be seen as its own island, with its own inherent typology. When the water level rises through time, it reinforces the connection between each zone, making them appear as interconnected islands. The interventions act as a second layer on top of the existing city. As the existing Redhook gets washed away by the flood/ water levels, the interventions provide a framework for the future neighborhood of Redhook. It allows for the option to keep building on top as the water rising, and with the constant change in water level, the program and occupancy changes/ adapts to the new city (i.e. parallel framework utopia – city built on top of city, and touching down at only structural and infrastructural points).
Elaboration on Specific Typologies
- HEADQUARTER LABORATORY
Elevated on top of land typology. Organized typical office spaces. Elevated above the new landscape which is the gentle slopes that register the water levels, so when flood comes, people can notice the water rising and rooms do not get damaged.
- STADIUM HOUSING
Located on land that will not flood. Acts as housing as well as open plan studio spaces for artists, designers, furniture makers, etc.
Acts as an extension of the Fairway to supply the area post flood. Fairway is built on an area that will get destroyed by flood. This supermarket is built on top of high land, that will not get damaged. It is a backup food/ nourishment resource for the city post flood, as well as community garden space.
- WET LAB
For scientists, researchers, hydrologists, atmospheric researchers, marine scientists – people who need to do on site research specific to water, animals, weather, flooding etc. The structure is porous and has the ability to float with the changing water levels. The public walkway goes penetrate the LAB space which turns the WATER LAB to be public educational space.
- BASIN HOUSING
Hovering over water typology. Built on top of existing basin. Porous, delicate structure. Framed architecture. Collaborative units.
- STOREFRONT HOUSING
Existing building typology. The public housing units in Redhook are located on land that would be damaged. In an effort to prevent damage, we propose changing the ground floor to be a porous and permeable outdoor structure, that would allow for pop up markets and a storefront to occur – to increase foot traffic as well as give the residents job opportunities.
- PUBLIC POOL
Floating pool/ leisure structure for the city. It floats, so as the water level rises, the structure rising with it.
- GRAIN TERMINAL
Intervention of existing building, the old abandoned grain terminal. Adapted to become a transportation hub, ferry terminal, light-rail connecting to the subway, bike rentals, etc. (As well as a backup power resource for the city, if needed)
- ELEVATED WALKWAY
Allows for a secondary form of circulation, connecting the nodes. When the flood rises, it becomes the primary form of circulation for the interventions, and also acts as a way to feed power (power source) to the nodes if needed.
Who influences your graphically?
Two of us are fascinated by the art of architectural representation like line-weighted drawing and collage. We believe that the simple of well-refined line drawing can illustrate the sense of human scale, especially when we put furniture into the plan, comparing its scale to our architecture scale. Also, we think that collage is a very expressive way to represent the idea and concept of design. Our graphic style derived from both architects and artists such as Dogma, Kresten Geers, So-il, MOS Architect, Office OMMX, 6a architects, David Hockney, Gustav Klimt, and etc.
What determined the graphic aesthetic of this proposal?
Initially, we aimed to present our project like art works in the museums. As we live in New York, we got inspired by so many exhibitions in MoMa, The Met, Guggenheim, The Frick collection and etc. Getting absorbed by a dynamic of contemporary art and classical art, we borrowed so many elements from famous painters in our collage such as, the sky from James Turner, the trees from Gustav Klimt and The landscape from Monet.
What is the effect and purpose of the triptych format images?
Our project came up with nine different typologies, and each typologies have its own architectural gestures. We were trying to find the best way to compare these proposal in the same consistency, then the idea of having a matrix format of drawing came in. The set of drawings when we pin up, can be read vertically as a different typologies, and it also can be read horizontally as comparison of plans, or collages.
To what extent do you agree with the axonometric as the most complete form of drawing?
The axonometrics that we had were our statement. It has to well-represent our idea to the proposal. The comparison of two big axons portrays the the whole image of the project. That is why we take our axonometric as the most important drawing.
What defined the views through which you choose to represent the proposal through?
The architectural gesture of each typologies are distinctive form each other, some penetrates through underutilized building, some hovering on top of the water body, some intervenes the ground level of building. To show these variety of gestures, we think that using one perspective point eye-view to every collages is perfectly fit to convey our idea.
Both of us are AAD students (MS. Advanced Architectural Design) at Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation in Columbia University, New York. Currently, we are in a final semester of our Master program. Stephanie Tager did her Bachelor degree at Syracuse University, USA. And Kig Veerasunthorn did her Bachelor degree at Chulalongkorn University, Thailand.