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Liminal Ecology

Summer 2019
Columbia University, GSAPP
Critic / Karla Rothsten (Columbia DeathLAB, Latent NYC, Greylock Works)
Collaborator / Seid Burka
San Delano Roosevelt Park, Manhattan, NY, USA

isometric / arbopocene - a human nest, arboreal stelae, ecological bandaging and time capsules for a plausible future

People draw and consume resources from Earth throughout their lives. Mankind calls itself as a resource, the human resource, capable of mental/cerebral applications and the ability to endure labor to manipulate its surroundings. But under its arrogance and self-proclaimed superiority, humankind has let its weakness, its finiteness, plague its surroundings. The complex overlays of time are degrading under the finite rule of humankind. In its finite chronology, every unit of human being has consumed resources and space, laboring the ecology, locality, and even corrupting the healthy state of the world’s timeline.

The fragments of the world are observed as systemic and temporal overlays - urbanity, locality, ecology, and memory. Observing the San Delano Roosevelt Park in lower East Manhattan as a test site, the seven-block site and its immediate, extended, and planetary context is simplified to the four fragments. Viewed as a temporal section, fragments of the past, present, and future are observed simultaneously as a palimpsest. Fragments of the past and present include the urban networks, nodes and systems, arboreal typologies, soundscapes, built morphologies, and human demographics. Fragments of the future entail a series of urban and ecological reparations to prolong short term and long term human existence.

Memory, a subset of the world’s palimpsest has somehow become a physical expression of human archiving. Is memory a function of loss or can it be of life and progression? Can space for memory represent the chronology of the world and its complex overlays or does it still have to follow a framework of reminiscence? Do we reminisce about the past or can we contribute to the progression of time and add ourselves back into the system instead of corrupting its properties? Are humans only capable of conquering, extracting, capitalizing, or could they contribute, preserve, and prolong?

Acknowledging the human corpse as biological material, the chosen field performs liminally - coalescing resources, spaces, and programs of life and death. Through the composting of the deceased, death contributes to the lives of future flora, and eventually future fauna.

Fragments of the future define forms of urban revitalization through over-pedestrianization and maintenance of arenas of play established in the past. This new urban living room is populated by reprogrammable furniture and pavilions that adapt to seasons and weather conditions, and finally is a mass funerary system - burial silos and nursery tholoi. Expanding the urban living room, soil stelae and stalactites archive human matter and simultaneously grow new carbon organisms to feed an oxygenate future humankind. Challenging a vicious human Anthropocene, an ‘arbopocene’ is projected as a method of ecological reparation.

Post the age of human Anthropocene, in a plausible era of the Arbopocene, humans could positively contribute to our shared ecology rather than being a geophysical assailant. Reminiscence, remembrance, preservation.

images / San Delano Roosevelt Park, Lower East Side, Manhattan, NY

oblique / accrued and retained fragments, San Delano Roosevelt Park
01_built morphology
03_cycle ways
01_pedestrian routes
02_sports grounds
03_play grounds
04_public nodes
02_foliage density
04_tree properties

datascape / land use x cultural composition x urban malignancy (block vi + context)

datascape / morphology x movement patterns x soundscape (block i + context)

images / San Delano Roosevelt Park, Lower East Side, Manhattan, NY

The cultivable countryside is a tessellation of recognizable plot shapes. Clusters of heterogeneous crops, following time, seasons, and food culture. The urban transposition is a collection of polarized fields made to fit within the fragments of locality, urbanity, ecology, and memory. And soon, these cultivable follies become locality, urbanity, ecology, and memory themselves of the urban ecosystem. From linear movements between crop aisles, the urban folk move with a little more personal discretion - walk, cycle, run, drive, ride, crossover layup, Cryuff turn, skateboard, slide, chase bubbles, swing, lie, sleep. Spaces become specialized for functional isolation and yet under the rule of diversity, remain democratic to incorporate the imagination of the public - play, dance, sleep, workout, work, gamble, narrate, mime, fight, wed, watch, eat, entertain, make a living. And finally, with time accruing over the lifespans, stories, and remains of people and place, what is left is the palimpsest of the world and the time capsules of human, ecological and spatial legacy.

cultivable land
urban polarization
urban living room
time capsules

soliloquy, diagram / liminal ecology, manifesto and spatial labyrinths

I fed from this Earth
Belly full of fruit and leaves
Now you can have me

Outside their stelae
We orchestrate new stories
Some rest, others play

axonometric / fragments of the world

A human is a sum of its physical construction, actions, health, and cerebral activity. Similarly, the world is a collection of the same fragments - locality, urbanity, ecology, and memory. The locality is a fragment of everything physical and systemic - roads, builtscapes, monuments, walkways, waterways, sewers, subway tunnels, playgrounds, airspace, lamp poles, dustbins, materiality, tonality, textures, fragrances, odours, noise, rules, regulations, sensibilities, and laws. The urbanity is what we make of this locality together - play, sit, eat, fight, cycle, read, dance, listen, cook, vandalize, rest. The ecology is the life expectancy of the world. And finally, the memory is the collection of all palimpsests - stories, reminiscence, hindsight, remembrance, lessons learned, wisdom transposed, and legacies. Together they make up the physical, intangible, intentional, systemic, and memorable. The structure of any palimpsest is the interaction of all subsets, singularly and in groups, that together mark a past, live a present, and move on to a future. The fragments are the world itself. Similarly, this palimpsest is a fragment of fragments. From here we begin to record, design, manipulate and portend and maybe even amend, by building a fragment desirable for the longevity of the world.
plan / seven-block programming

urban living room

sports playgrounds, basketball court [x6], soccer pitch [x2], handball wall [x2], running track [200m]

public nodes, room for stories, play room I, kitchen, fountain, library, theater, play room II, agora, classroom

nurseries / nurseries, grains, medicinal, fruits + vegetables, other edibles, fungi, house plants
forests [x8]
gardens / songbird garden, hummingbird garden, pollinator garden, butterfly garden

silo.01_12 bays, silo.02_6 bays, silo.03_12 bays, silo.04_6 bays, silo.05_12 bays

plan / past and future (accrued and introduced, respectively) fragments of the world
plan / living room labyrinths -
intersection of all users archetypes and programmes





morphological spacing

collection of playgrounds

flora and fauna species

people [reminiscence]
anthropocentric to
arboreal grid

new living room of urban utility

urban cultivation and nurseries

soil [remembrance]

The established programme of the urban living room is sequenced to acknowledge the diverse labyrinths of its users - human species of all ages and intents, soil, ecology, memories, and other species of the fauna. Some labyrinths are linear or rectilinear [users pass by], others are playful yet intentional [like a series of skills in the playground as one dribbles up to the goal post; or stationary as one sits and reads; or chaotic as the child runs freely; or the farmer moving along alleys of crops and tending to them], or just illogical [aimless walk intended for introspection]. Some are fast [the runner], some leisurely [the old couple]. Together they map the present tense [routines, goals, conversations] of all fragments and users.

isometric, section / swath of the liminal field - block vi between Grand and Hester Street

plan / Roosevelt Park, past and future fragments - map of the urban living room

plans / (mem) composting silos and watchtowers

deaths per day
single body aerobic composting
deaths per month
stacking capacity of single burial bay
bays for simultaneous composting
area of single bay
circulation around each bay
soil generated per human species
number of silos
number of bays
area of all bays
area of all circulation
area of all silos
number of human species per month
soil generated per month
soil generated per year
4 - 5 weeks [30-37 days]
210 - 259
6 species
35 - 49 bays
5ft x 10ft = 50ft2
5’ offset = 250ft2
5 silos
48 bays [12+6+12+6+12]
48 x 6 = 288
12 bays, 72 units, 1,944ft3 soil, open
6 bays, 36 units, 997ft3 soil, covered
12 bays, 72 units, 1,944ft3 soil, covered
6 bays, 36 units, 997ft3 soil, open
12 bays, 72 units, 1,944ft3 soil, open

plans / (urb) fragments of the urban living room

room for stories

play room I





play room II



congregation, prayer meeting, meetings for addicts, play, movie, dance practice, wedding
mini football, basketball half court, sprinting, trampoline, making snowmen, stretching
eat, cook. brunch, wedding party, convention, block party, Sunday bake, Masterchef US
water fights, proposal spot, contemplation, ice skating, cool down n the summer
read, write, co-working, outdoor class, nap, movie, book club, tuition classes
movie, plays, dance performances, music gigs, practice, convention
sandpit, swings, see-saw, jungle gym, running, hide and seek, slides, snakes and ladders, hopscotch
conventions, wedding, outdoor classes, co-working office, neighborhood meetings
outdoor classes, stands for the running track, art class, make out spot
spring, summer, rain, fall, snow

spring, summer, rain, fall, snow

spring, summer, rain, fall, snow

spring, summer, rain, fall, snow

spring, summer, rain, fall, snow

spring, summer, fall

spring, summer, rain, fall, snow

spring, summer, fall

spring, summer, rain, fall, snow

plans / (eco) nursery tholoi and crop types

01. grains  /  02. medicinal  /  03. fruits and vegetables  /  04. fruits and vegetables  /  05. other edibles  /  06. home plants  /  07. home plants  /  08. fungi  /  09. other edibles  /  10. home plants

plans / (eco) seasonal gardens (flaura + fauna)





songbird garden
[FLOWERS]Columbine, Smooth Aster, New England Aster, Blue False Indigo, Pale Purple Coneflower, Purple Coneflower, Dense Blazingstar, Bergamot, Yellow Coneflower, Sweet Black Eyed Susan, Cupplant, Stiff Goldenrod
[GRASSES] Little Bluestem, Indiangrass, Prairie Dropseed

hummingbird garden
[DRY SOIL] Columbine, Butterflyweed, Sky Blue Aster, New Jersey Tea, Scaly Blazingstar, Broad Leaved Penstemon 3
[MEDIUM SOIL] Columbine, New Jersey Tea, Butterflyweed for Clay, Purple Coneflower, Prairie Blazingstar, Marsh Phlox
[MOIST SOILS] Prairie Blazingstar, Smooth Penstemon, Marsh Phlox, Crooked Stem Aster, Wild Iris, Cardinal Flower
[GRASSES] Prairie Dropseed

pollinator garden
[FLOWERS] Sullivant’s Milkweed, Butterflyweed for Clay, New England Aster, Wild Senna, Stiff Coreopsis, Purple Prairie Clover, Purple Coneflower, Sweet Joe Pye Weed, Meadow Blazingstar, Prairie Blazingstar, Bergamot, Smooth Penstemon, Ohio Goldenrod, Alexanders

butterfly garden
[FLOWERS] Columbine, Sullivant’s Milkweed, Butterflyweed for Clay, New England Aster , Crooked Stem Aster, Stiff Coreopsis, Purple Prairie Clover, Pale Purple Coneflower, Purple Coneflower, Tall Joe Pye Weed, Sweet Joe Pye Weed, Meadow Blazingstar , Prairie Blazingstar, Dense Blazingstar, Bergamot, Marsh Phlox, Downy Phlox, Orange Coneflower, Ohio Goldenrod, Ironweed


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