NY Reticula. Governors Island, NY 2017
Reticula is a grid, but a grid that sits on a rolling land without the will to efficiently connect or divide or organize. As a metaphor of the urban grid, that so clearly structures most cities today and is certainly the leitmotif of New York, its design departs from the orthogonal intersection of lines that define and delimit quadrants in between, but deforms this instrument of urban planning to adapt: adapt to the topography of land, adapt to spaces that want to be a destination and not just serve for transit, adapt to the character of the wider context on which it sits. It deforms and while doing it, subverts the idea of the grid, so that quadrants are no longer parcels but voids filled with air and views.
NY Reticula rests on Governors’ Island Park, a privileged site South of Manhattan, a piece of landscape with outstanding environmental qualities that can be reached by ferry from both Manhattan and Brooklyn closest shores. The island, which contains a number of historic buildings in the process of restoration, has also become home to exciting landscape interventions looking to preserve and enhance its unique characteristics of the site while guide development. In this evolving ecosystem, NY Reticula situates itself as continuation of the recently completed park, exciting its topography, finding a balanced position in between hills, lawns, trees, paths, water… and expanding the existing cultural, artistic and recreational functions of the place through its sheltering structure. Participating of the holistic experience of the island, visitors smoothly transition from the meandering paths of the park to the covered outdoor spaces of Reticula, to its interior, to the roof ground that enjoys panoramic views of Governors Island, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Staten Island and New Jersey. Here landscape is thus not consumed by the presence of architecture but multiplied.
As if extracted from the island’s bedrock, NY Reticula brings together architecture and nature in a way that resounds with the geology of the site. Granite rocks from the island’s old seawall that were used to build the park are here used again to conglomerate the cyclopean concrete that will support the spaces of Reticula following patterns and laws that sometimes get closer to what we understand as natural and others as architectural. This intriguing ambiguity pushes users to actively explore and interpret, invent and enjoy.
As part of our investigations on landscape intervention, this project brings a new opportunity to mediate between urbanization and habitation -something specially critical in a city with the density of New York-, to transcend preconceived ideas about architecture and blur typological standards to allow for renewed thinking about the construction of places.