Looseness: Indeterminate Architectures for Broadway Junction [M1]

In the late 1950’s and 1960’s, architects embraced uncertainty and indeterminacy, arguing for greater individual agency and freedom, open-endedness, impermanence, growth, and change. Speculative projects imagined new worlds where inhabitants could continuously re-arrange and modify their environments. It was envisioned that such bottom-up flexibility could empower individuals and create more utopian societies. Outside of the architectural avant-garde, processes of change in the built environment continuously unfold, with some building types intrinsically more malleable. More recently, the pandemic has signaled a shift in the way cities and spaces are used. In New York City, significant amounts of retail and recently completed office space are vacant, while domestic spaces have taken on new obligations and roles, acting more and more as the simultaneous realm of remote work, school, and childcare. Even if these shifts are temporary, similar future economic, social, and environmental shifts seem probable, if not certain. There is an increasing recognition of the need for the “reversibility” of buildings; to change, to be re-programmed for unforeseen future needs, to be disassembled, and/or to be recycled. Given new understandings of embodied energy, the longevity of buildings must be considered even more important, increasing their need for adaptability.
This studio will seek a new language of architectural indeterminacy and “looseness.” The ambition of the studio is to also reclaim disciplinary techniques related to time, and to imagine the life of buildings more thoroughly beyond their so-called completion. On a site located near Broadway Junction, in Brooklyn, New York, this studio will envision a new civic building. The confluence of transportation infrastructure around the site suggests its potential for greater density, new housing, and jobs. In 2016, the neighborhood was controversially rezoned. It seems certain that Broadway Junction will change, however, the character and quality of this new center is uncertain. As such, the proposed architecture will envision both its immediate function, but also unknown future capabilities and scenarios. Change and indeterminacy will be encoded into relationships of structure, systems, and envelope, providing a new model for more open, flexible, long-lasting, and indeterminate architectures.