New York City (Steady) State
SUMMARY: New York City (Steady) State is an alternative plan for New York City based on a single predicate: it is possible for the city to become almost entirely self-sufficient within its political boundaries. At its conclusion, our project will have proven this and outlined the necessary steps to achieve it.
PROBLEM SPACE: The planet is in crisis, and the city must be a central medium of renewal. This project will compile an inventory of likely technologies, infrastructures, and architectures for a transformation to urban self-sufficiency. It will provide a model for cities looking to take greater responsibility for their own consumption. Current design guides typically perpetuate models of sustainability that are too discipline-specific, too superficial and/or too divorced from context. New York City (Steady) State is a deep reflection on the character of sustainability and on current models for development and change. It will provide both a full catalogue of immediately practical solutions, augmented by a theoretical text that will look at the economics of self-reliance and import substitution as a driver for this transformation. We will argue that higher levels of autonomy are crucial both for the achievement of a sustainable future and for the democratic character of cities. The city is increasingly the logical increment for resistance to environmental and political degradation, for realizing individual expression, as well as a key medium for taking responsibility for the fate of the global environment.
New York City (Steady) State seeks to provide a new standard for writing and analysis on sustainability, one which is inseparable from and grounded in a strong awareness of the particularities of place and will provide a model for other cities to follow. It is thus a means of taking inventory for cities currently relying on and striving for more limited forms of sustainability, a model for planning, a handbook of techniques, and a speculation about synthesis. We believe that this systemic, integrated, large-scale approach is exactly the type of reorientation that governments, planners, developers, architects, engineers, designers, and citizens urgently need to consider. We further believe that this is precisely the kind of thinking that Buckminster Fuller pioneered.
SOLUTION: We won’t achieve sustainability by looking deeper into the margins of the infrastructural systems at work today in our city. Our project posits that the key to sustainability will be found by dramatically reorienting our collection, delegation, and use of natural resources by asking the question: what if we decide to rely on what is accessible nearby, within the city itself?
The city is New York, a city of 790 square kilometers with 8 million people. Our areas of study – energy, building, movement, social economics, water, food, air, waste, climate, and manufacturing – assess the past development of the system, and the current demand and supply behavior of New York City as a point of departure for reinventing our city’s metabolisms. We will set into motion sustainable urban culture through the introduction of dynamic instigators in a projective timeline: the effects of changes related through various infrastructure will feed through schedules and shifts in the connected, interdependent systems; this model of interconnectedness will dominate the design of the project. The writing has been designed to read like an encyclopedia text, clear, well-researched, grounded in fact; (Steady) State is an evaluation and access device, a tool and an educator.
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