In this project, I worked on creating a website to help drug users in New York City and Long Island find health resources more easily. This project was created during my time as a designer-in-residence at Selman NYC in collaboration with Alyssa Kalbus, the other resident.
The opioid crisis is a massive issue across the country and in New York, someone overdoses every four hours. More New Yorkers die from overdoses than from homicides, suicides, and car crashes combined. Alyssa and I had been learning about the harm reduction movement in recent months, which is a long-standing movement to address drug abuse through empathy, community care, and non-judgemental social justice. To assist the many talented and dedicated groups working on this issue in New York (like VOCAL-NY), we created a website which allows users to select specific harm reduction resources (like needle exchanges or Narcan pickups) and search for them by borough or proximity.
The need for this project arose from the fact that there is no reliable and simple-to-use resource for finding help in New York. This project is under further development to be launched and run by activist groups in the city.
We imagine the structural level being the physical changes that will be made to the space. Here we go into how we imagine the parking garage to be retrofitted to facilitate our social and natural programming. In our endeavor to make the parking garage more multi-use we propose certain systems like vertical farming, rainwater collection systems, hydroponic irrigation systems, and a plethora of sensing technologies that we would then integrate into the space. At the city level it shows how the structure of the city will change overtime as a result of the network of connectivity established through the integration of technology into its buildings and the lives of its citizens.
Our primary concept for moving parking garages from single–use to multi–use is centered on adding farming and safety elements into the space, while decreasing the over–emphasis on parking over time.
The preliminary changes of Stage 0 would see vertical farming structures and aquaponics begin to be installed in the space. In this stage, the garage is mostly still a parking space, with some added structures to support farming.
Moving into stage 1, we would expand the farming capacity of the structure to keep up with growing food demands and install sophisticated multipurpose sensors that would provide data to assist the plants and people in the building.
In stage 2, our focus would turn to reinforcing the underground sections of the space to prepare for the upcoming flooding of coastal areas. We would also upgrade the sensor system to enhance connectivity and responsiveness of the to space, including connections to screens and speakers, as well as navigational LED walkways.
In this stage, emphasis on parking is slowly being stripped back, with more vertical farms added, resulting in less parking spaces. Instead, the garage is being moved closer to a community space.
Stage 3 is focused on a need–based resource allocation system governed by the community adaptive awareness network. Moving forward from the parking garage module, the tech and logics present in the previous stages will be implemented city–wide. The map below shows how structures across the city could be transformed into multi–use spaces that are all able to interface together as part of the network.
Adaptive Awareness Network: inspired by the phenotypic plasticity in ants and the collective awareness of altruistic systems, this network of connectivity connects people to their environment, their needs and to each other. Over time this network of inputs, responses and feedback loops governs the structure of the city by controlling long term resource allocations based on need.
System details: This system would be able to reorganize over time based off input from individual nodes which could be a person, a building, vehicle or any other actor connected to the community adaptive awareness network . That reorganization could be physical, like activating temporary shelter spaces in response to a weather event, or it could be digital, like a ping being sent out to notify the citizens of a certain community or individual need.
If the city can recognize need and respond to it effectively, that adds to resource efficiency, especially when resources are scarce. It would only provide things where they are needed- and this need can be crowdsourced.
At our case study level, our social level outlines how the increased multi-use programming and adaptive awareness system might benefit the community. Urban design is often viewed from a structural lens, but we seek to address social issues through social solutions here. How might we use emerging technologies to improve our spaces? How might we use social programs to create more welcoming community spaces?
As we mentioned a little earlier, we want to build an adaptive sensing network that addresses needs across the case study and larger city.
In stage 0, people will tap into/ access the adaptive sensing system through the format of a smart device app. This will allow an accessible forward route into the system.
Another important element on the social side is reducing the amount of violent crime that occurs. Due to the vertical farms implemented in the same stage from the Structural level, the garage will be naturally brighter and more populated. This will begin to passively address crime rates by removing factors that contribute to making current garages hotspots for assaults.
In stage 1, we would be focusing on how to allow the benefits of the farming within the garage to reach to residents of the local neighborhood. To ensure the transfer of power from the hands of the entity that built the garage to the hands of the people who live and act in the space, a training program would be instituted. This program would teach community members how to cultivate the farming space.
A major element of this stage would be the conversion of the garage from a passive space to an active one. This means that the system governing the garage would be able tlo use its vast array of sensors and digital connections to monitor its space and respond appropriately to incidents that could occur inside. The animation below illustrates how, given a series of events, the system might respond to an individual collapsing inside the garage.
The final stage would see the expansion of this cascading series of logics across the citywide system. The rise of magnetic smart fabrics and non-electronic tokens would allow all people, regardless of economic level, access to the technology needed to interface with the system. The system itself would not be limited to the parking garages and instead would operate across the entire urban landscape.
During our research into relevant emerging technologies, we discovered a process for encoding data into magnetic thread which can be woven into apparel items. We speculated this technology could be used to further enhance interfacing between people and the adaptive awareness system in stage 3. Theoretically, if one was wearing clothing woven with the correct magnetic threading, they could encode personal data elements into their apparel.
For example, a person prone to seizures could encode that, along with their necessary medication. As they enter a smart space like the garage, the system would be able to read their chosen data using magnetometers. Then, if that person were to have a seizure in the space, even if their mobile device was out of battery or if the system was down, the local garage system would be able to access the medical data and react.
Non-electronic tokens: Our theorized use of smart fabrics offers an exciting alternative to traditional data storage, but one issue it faces is further marginalizing any individual who lacks access to technology, such as the unhoused. To address this deficiency, we have also researched a method of interfacing with our digital ecosystem without the need for an electronic device. By using this technology, which simply requires a conductive physical input object (a token), we could allow an incredibly low–cost way to access digital systems.
To encode their token with personal medical data or whatever else, an individual could simply visit a public internet resource like the library and use the system there. From that point, their token would be comprehensible to the general system by way of RF scanners and WiFi backscatter , providing the same safety net as the smart fabrics.
Our natural level goes into how we envision our relationship with nature. It tries to define a new, more equitable dynamic between humans, cities and native ecosystems by the planned assimilation of the city into its surroundings to create an integrated ecosystem. Rewilding of the city space repositions humans within nature’s framework and makes room for a respectful, balanced, and healthy relationship between the two.
Introducing biodiversity: In the wake of global warming and rising populations it will become increasingly important for the city to support itself. This is where nature can come in and create an abundant landscape in the city so we might take what we need from it but also nurture it to live with us. We see so much potential for future cities to be meaningfully green and by that we mean, the plants grown inside the city should either be food crops, medical plants or ecologically relevant and restorative.
Our goal is to gradually transition the parking structures in the city into productive urban farms that nourish their communities. Growing medicinal plants in these community gardens might provide people with knowledge and access to beneficial plant based remedies. We would also work to reintroduce native ecosystems into the city by transforming monocultural public parks into havens for indigenous biodiversity.
Urban Heat: Existing concrete parking lots and pavements are impermeable flood prone areas and causes of urban heat island effect . We propose depaving significant surface area of concrete and constructing low impact developments like bioswales and other biofilters to make the ground more permeable to water to mitigate floods. These bioswales can be created around the edges of parking lots and around pavements, roads and rooftops to capture and treat stormwater and other polluted runoff . They can also be integrated into road medians, curb cutouts, sidewalks, or any public space.
Bioswales: Bioswales are elevated low impact drainage systems used to treat stormwater. As the storm water runoff flows through the bioswale, the pollutants are captured and settled by the leaves and stems of the plants.
The pollutants then enter the soil where they decompose or can be broken down by the bacteria in healthy soil. They are extremely beneficial in protecting surface water and local waterways from excessive pollution and help recharge groundwater.
Bioswales can also be designed to be aesthetically pleasing and attract animals and create habitats.
Due to increased levels of coastal flooding, Stage 3 will be characterized by the recolonization of the city by native aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems that will provide us with numerous ecosystem services to form a city that grows with nature.
Early in Stage 3 we would construct elevated walkways and public transit to prepare for the rising sea levels. To connect the archipelago of buildings to one another we propose the construction of a new connective tissue of elevated walkways, public transit and unmanned cargo channels.
The lowest layer would be pedestrian walkways that span buildings. These walkways would have wider platforms to act as areas of public congregation. The middle layer would be electric public transit vehicles. The highest layer would be the unmanned cargo carriers.
Later in Stage 3 as cities begin to get denser, the goal would be to emphasize walkability and with the layout of the city becoming increasingly multi use, one won’t need to travel larger distances to fulfill their needs. This would redefine movement in the city.
The Isolation Helm exists to keep wearers safe from the social anxiety of wandering out into the public eye. You can read a more detailed description of this intervention here.
This altar exists to let users pivot between trending conspiracy theories with ease, allowing for the ability to keep up with the rising tides of frenetic communal panic as efficiently as possible.
The AmeriCoin Wallet is the American citizen's best friend and inescapable companion into the use and spending of Americoin on a daily basis, be it for casting votes, paying bail, or paying taxes.
This Brand Medallion is used to give citizens access to their data and files seamlessly across the franchised internets! The devices keep the data that pertains to the company, allowing users to tap into any digital device to view their info, at the cost of a bit of weight around the neck.
The ceiling of the installation room is littered with documents depicting images and text. I wanted the entire space of the room to itself be a network which the viewer moves through as the navigate the space. The central pillar, seen on the left, is the origin of the internet, ornamented with old computers from the dawn of the internet. From there, across the ceiling, the images and text show and tell the various trends, technologies, and developments which are taking us into the futures depicted in each of the four corners. The map seen below offers a guide to the roof which shows this concept.
Thank you to Hammett Nurosi, Doug Scott, Becky Fong, Paul Soulellis, Kelsey Elder, Minkyoung Kim, Barron Webster, Mari Iwahara, Andy Pressman, Tom Weis, Leslie Fontana, & Rain Ruihua Yang for the mentorship, advice, and conversations!