Wood meets the waterfront in Timber in the City design competition
Renderings: Grow Your City
The competition focused on a site in the Brooklyn waterfront neighborhood of Red Hook, with a population of public housing residents and working artists and designers, and a number of new residential and commercial developments. With a focus on regenerating the urban manufacturing sector and addressing housing needs, entrants, working individually or in teams, were tasked with incorporating affordable housing units; a bike sharing and repair shop; as well as a vocational, manufacturing and distribution center for the innovative use of wood technology.
The competition will challenge participants to interpret, invent, and deploy numerous methods of building systems, with a focus on innovations in wood design on a real site. For thousands of years, solid wood has been used as a building material. Timber is an ideal green building material: it is well suited for a broad range of structural and aesthetic applications, it offers high performance characteristics; and wood is an economic driver to maintain forests and protect jobs in our communities.
The pods are stacked on the Red Hook site to form low-rise housing and a tower, with the CLT panels acting as both load-bearing and shear walls. The CLT pod is designed and engineered according to the Cross Laminated Timbers material properties.. The façade is panelized with both solid CLT and floor to ceiling windows. Each pod type, whether a studio, living space, or bedroom, is assigned a quantity of shear panel and glazing that forms a pattern on the façade, giving it both regularity and variety.
Grow Your Own City aims to enhance the energetic life and community of Red Hook, building on its rich natural and cultural history and serving as a catalyst for urban regeneration and economic growth. The project would create affordable living units that could support a wide range of daily activities, inspire healthy community relations and establish and celebrate the natural forest and ecosystem of the Northeast United States. The bicycle shop, Timber Restaurant, and green alley highlight Red Hook’s vibrant cycling, culinary and eco-friendly culture.The green alley on the interior of the site adds a valuable urban park area to support recreational activities, neighborhood and community functions, and festivals. The green alley is designed as an educational walk, explaining the lumber industry and the creation of Cross Laminated Timber and other wood products. Lastly, the green alley supports sustainable practices of rainwater harvesting, retention and reuse, solar energy collection through photovoltaic panels, habitat rehabilitation and ecosystem recovery.
This winning design comprehensively solves the major elements of the competition program and gestures towards new thinking in relation to timber construction and wood technology. This realistic and pragmatic scheme is appropriately scaled with a nice variety of building heights. Each building describes a distinct form of construction, and the application of wood at all three scales is handled beautifully. There is a mature sensitivity to zoning, politics, and concerns of gentrification. This design exemplifies smart urban planning by placing the warehouse on the industrial street and creating a new pedestrian street behind, which is an incredible relief for the neighborhood. The residential units are well thought out; most have windows on two sides and the corner units are nicely articulated. Overall, the project is strong because it maps out the terrain of the site while remaining consistent to the larger neighborhood in terms of plan, context and materiality.
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