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Elise Bluell
Rawan Alsaffar

Aqueous Urbanism

Coney Island has two conflicting and integrated pasts. It has been an escape for the inhabitants of New York City and it regularly faces storm surges and water inundation due to its low elevation. We seek to create a flexible environment between Coney Island Creek and the adjacent urban grid to better adapt to the changing nature of urban coastal regions.

By combining the “attraction” and “water influx” characteristics of the island, we are creating a water management system that also serves as an ecological buffer to incoming inundation. This water system integrates into the public and private realms of the city. While the beachfront area of the island is heavily occupied with tourists and seasonal visitors, our intervention balances the crowds and restores value to the other side of the island, an area that is visually and programmatically out of reach.

Due to the low-lying nature of the land, the insertion of tidal pools serve as ecologic hosts for an array of micro-conditions while intertwining with an infrastructural system that strategically collects and distributes water according to site density and material distribution. With these site pressures, the city block adapts to better manage water inundation. This matrix promotes an urban form that accepts a variety of program and built occupations that shift toward a more resilient and responsive urban system.

About The Designer

Elise Bluell is currently a candidate for Master of Landscape Architecture I with Advanced Placement at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Architecture from the Knowlton School of Architecture at the Ohio State University where her thesis explored context, globalization, and the role of icons in contemporary architectural tourism. Elise is interested in the performance of vegetation as agents of remedial processes, land-builders, ecological instigators, and space makers within conflicted urban sites. These interests sit within an ecological emphasis across the scale of the plant to the scale of the city.

Rawan Alsaffar is currently a Masters of landscape Architecture and Masters of Design Studies (Urbanism Landscape and Ecology) candidate at the Harvard Graduate school of design. She brings her background In architectural education to her approach of the Landscape field, looking equally at the ecological and built forms. She studied previously at Rhode Island School of Design where she learned the approach of designing through physical experimentation. She is interested in live ecological data processing and the ability for landscape architecture and machine intelligence to merge. These interests have led her to do research on existing ecological systems such as sedimentation of the Mississippi. Her approach to working on these problems has been through live biotic intelligence systems and she is currently pursuing research in the Harvard REAL lab. During both her undergraduate and graduate education Rawan has been awarded a full scholarship by the Ministry of Higher Education of Kuwait for her academic excellence.