RESIDENTIAL DESIGN HONOR AWARD
Unfolding Terrace, Dumbo, Brooklyn, New York
Terrain-NYC, Inc., New York, New York
"It is very tricky to balance the senses of openness and enclosure when designing rooftop gardens in New York City, but this landscape architect has even added a fresh take on movement. The vertical elements work well, it’s beautifully detailed, the materials are simple, and there are lots of nice places to sit and enjoy."— 2008 Professional Awards Jury Comments
PROJECT STATEMENT: An urban roofscape that celebrates the spectacle of the city, the Unfolding Terrace negotiates the scale of the city’s industrial landscape of infrastructure with the atmosphere of the garden living space. The decked surface folds across the roof, organizing program by creating constructed volumes of space. With a site specific commissioned poetry wall, the roofscape points to a new idea of nature in the city – mediated by culture and artistic interpretation.
PROJECT NARRATIVE: Spectacle of Urban Life: The philosophy that drives the design of the roof terrace is the celebration of the spectacle of the city, fully integrating a living landscape into the dynamic fabric of urban life. The terrace landscape enhances the experience of the city, drawing clues from the surrounding industrial roofscape and constantly negotiating the external views of the city with an inward sense of privacy and enclosure. The experience of the space occilates between a drawing into the privacy of the space and moving back out into the city. The landscape itself is spectacle, and the landscape frames the spectacle of the city.
This sense of spectacle is emphasized by the clients’ active and varied uses of the site for dance space, dining area, viewing platform with daybed, lounging and garden. The clients participated in the design process by defining the programmatic uses of the site which led to the design concept of a folded surface that organizes program.
Surface Organizes Program: The deck is conceived as a continuous surface that folds up and around the terrace, constructing programmed space for client's myriad programmatic needs. An intensive process to determine how the clients would use the space drove the form of the folded surface. The deck creates space and breaks it down, creating a fluid experience while containing the program of the site. At the same time, the folded structure masks vents and bulkheads on the roof space and provides storage, creating opportunities from design challenges. Each level of the site is marked with an illuminated resin panel, emphasizing the level changes and the underlying structure of the site – the varied but continuous surfaces.
Landscape Performance: The space embodies a performance based understanding of landscape with the various elements performing functions that enhance the experience of the space. A poetry wall, constructed out of billboard sign materials, connects the space to the surrounding Dumbo roofscape including nearby billboards, shifting the scales of experiences of the city from the larger urban landscape, to the intimate roofspace, and back out again into urban experience. An East Village poet was commissioned to write a poem specific to the place .
Buildings make mountains of this horizon – where water towers, still as mountains, quench the thirst of urbankind – offer respite to birdkind, with its equanimous eye of flight planes glide by the three sisters of bridges – as scents of commerce and blossom blend – as stars bridge dark with light – change thrives in skylines and hours, louder near rivers of traffic and bridges – bridges that star the sky with cables and arches – unmoved by change as they mother the city – almost as constant as the elements themselves – the bridge as daughter to tide.
The imagery of the wall evokes an abstracted birch tree glade, creating a new idea of nature in the city – one that is mediated by culture and other artistic interpretations.
The lighting design of the space extends the life of the terrace, activating the space at night and transforming the landscape into nocturnal spectacle. The level changes in the decking glow with a wash of light from illuminated resin panels. The edge plantings are enlivined, drawing attention to the edges, while attention is drawn away from the people on the deck, who remain darkened and therefore retain their privacy, enhancing a reciprocal voyeurism – of those on the deck looking out to the night spectacle, and those on the outside drawn into the illuminated plantings.
Sustainability and planting: As a larger strategy of urban green roofs, the Unfolding Terrace contributes to the urban ecology by reclaiming a previously barren space for both human occupation and wildlife, contributing to habitat and biodiversity. A sunny site, the roofscape is planted with drought tolerant species, including a palette of native plantings, sedum, grasses and rudbeckia. Groves of native river birch enhance the abstracted pattern on the poetry wall. In a shaded area a fernery adds diversity. As a roof deck, this project was constructed entirely on structure. An irrigation system tailored for low-water use plants was installed. On structure, there was not much room for soil depth. The birches are planted in a large, low (18") depth planter, so that the roots will form a shallow mat, which helps stabilize the entire grove, with each of the trees interacting to form an ecological system.
Poet and Artist:
David Howell Design
LED lighting: IO lighting
Furniture: Custom by Terrain
Landscape Uplighting: BK lighting
Poetry wall/Billboard: By Duggall Visual Solutions