Curating the Urban Prosthetic: An Index of Retrospective and Anticipatory Changes in the City

 Andrea  Gonzalez, Assoc. AIA

Curating the Urban Prosthetic proposes an ongoing urban curation strategy for ephemeral place making that utilizes vacant, stalled and derelict spaces as a catalyst for urban intervention.

Williamsburg, Brooklyn is an actively evolving neighborhood in terms of both its physical spaces and inhabitants. The neighborhood's attraction, in part, lies in its profound social, cultural, and historical roots, which create a fervent sense of local identity both architecturally and ideologically. However, in recent years, gentrification has challenged the neighborhood's long-established identity, resulting in palpable rifts in the spirit of place.

This project proposes an ongoing curation strategy that tours the neighborhood by intervening in its stalled, derelict or forgotten spaces. The interventions are retrospective and anticipatory in the sense that they capture past presences, while intervening in a way that could possibly, but doesn't necessarily change the future of the site. The interventions are temporal in their own nature, making use of the space only for as long as the vacancy persists.

For the interventions to tour the neighborhood, they must be structured like a tour. They begin with a visual reference, then depart from this reference, conveying as much important or relevant information for a length of time before moving on to the next landmark. The time frames act as a vessel for the information that is communicated to the tourist. In the same way, each intervention departs from a moment of alignment with a visual reference. This moment of alignment, traced through time, allows one to see the nature of the site and the changes it has endured. By referencing the latencies of the site, the intervention ingrains itself with site specificity.

Image credits


Andrea Gonzalez, Assoc. AIA