The Sixth Borough

This year’s One Prize is looking for maritime visions of New York City in which the region’s waterways—with nearly 600 miles of shoreline—have been compellingly re-envisioned as the city’s “sixth borough.” A liquid neighborhood, or aquatic interzone, for the future.

Specifically, the One Prize is looking for proposals that can link otherwise disconnected regions of the city through “a series of green transit hubs incorporating electric passenger ferries, water taxis, bike shares, electric car-share and electric shuttle buses.” Further, prospective designers are asked by the competition to consider a hypothetical “Clean Tech World Expo” for the summer of 2014; your proposed waterborne transit system should thus be resilient enough “to accommodate the 10 million visitors of the Clean Tech World Expo.”

You can read much more about submission requirements in the competition PDF, but I would also urge anyone interested in taking on this challenge to read Float!: Building on Water to Combat Urban Congestion and Climate Change, reviewed here last month, for structural and technical ideas of how you might expand the city into its waterways.

That book explores the “conviction,” its co-author David Keuning writes, “that living on water is essentially no different from living on land, just with a different foundation technique.”

The result of the “fully-fledged use of ‘water ground’ for urban developments,” as the book’s other author, Koen Olthuis, describes it, will be a “buoyant expansion of the urban grid,” opening “possibilities that reach further than [just] floating architecture or a new approach to water management. It changes the whole perspective of city planning.”

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