Every Other Street, New York
Green Grids in the city
Traditionally, cities developed in a dialectic relationship with nature, walled off from but dependent on its hinterlands for resources and waste management. However, when a city reaches a certain scale it becomes important to integrate these metabolic processes into its urban tissue.
New York City’s street grid is just one of many grids—energy grids, transit grids, water grids—that determine its character. The sanitation grid, implemented in the 19th century after a series of cholera outbreaks, is today plagued by inflexibility and regularly poisons New York’s water bodies. Household sewage is combined with stormwater and is pumped to treatment centers. While domestic sewage from toilets, sinks and showers flows consistently, rain comes in surges: the entire system is overloaded during wet weather, and overflows pollute rivers with black water. Fast-flowing rivers usually deliver waste elsewhere, but the problem “rises to the surface” in more stagnant water bodies such as Newtown Creek.
This project asks, what would be necessary to make Newtown Creek swimmable? By separating the sewage grid from a green-blue system of stormwater management, it is possible to avoid combined system overflow entirely. Turning every other street in the New York street grid into a porous surface capable of absorbing stormwater, the city could naturally treat runoff pollution, reduce its dependence on high-tech pumps and treatment centers and prevent floods, all while bringing the city closer to nature. Moreover, personal rainwater harvesting could reduce the dependence on upstream reservoirs.
'Every Other Street' was developed as part of the Ooze exhibition 'Water Bodies', under the 'Water Futures' programme at A/D/O Gallery in New York, curated by Jane Withers. It was exhibited in parallel and in comparison with our work in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (Água Carioca) and in Chennai, India (City of 1,000 Tanks).
New York City, US
Eva Pfannes, Sylvain Hartenberg, Jesse Honsa
Water Futures @ A/D/O Gallery New York