314_Ali Chahine and Mustafa Bahce: The New Datum

Ali Chahine and Mustafa Bahce from Newark, NJ, USA: “I am from Guttenberg, NJ and a student and The New Jersey Institute of Technology. I am currently pursuing my Bachelors Degree in Architecture and Design. I've always been interested in architecture and the urban enviornment, how can it improve our ways of life? Can it also improve the world around us?”

University: New Jersey Institute of Technology

Professor(s): Mathew Staudt, Simon David, Despo Thoma

Name of Project: The New Datum

Project Description: Resilient Urban Ecosystems: Alternative Models for Mott Haven

The studio’s test site is the lowlands of Mott Haven, a waterfront industrial and transportation corridor currently in a state of transition. Located in the South Bronx across the Harlem River from Manhattan, its location and historic building stock has made it a prime real estate development target, the next neighborhood subject to the ‘waterfront condo effect,’ threatening to gentrify a historically low-income Puerto Rican and African-American community. 

Over the past few decades, the South Bronx has recovered substantially, largely due to the resilience of the local residents, rebuilding their community from the bottom up. Today, both natural and urban forces continue to reshape the area. Several waterfront sites have been rezoned opening of opportunities for new high-rise development. Like many newly developed waterfront areas across the city, collective and comprehensive climate change measures are not part of these proposals. With potentially hundreds of millions (if not billions) of dollars of both private and public funds to be invested in the coming years, Mott Haven is at risk of losing an opportunity to leverage development momentum to adapt for future climate risks and create a more sustainable, equitable city. Can waterfront development patterns be challenged to create a more holistic and dynamic destination for residents, visitors, and local ecosystems? How can re-imagined infrastructure become a social and economic engine for the neighborhood?

Mustafa and I, wanted to address issues of site connectivity to the waterfront and use architecture as flood protection to create new urban spaces in a rather industrial site along the waterfront. The concept experimented a new building typology that served as a transportation network system, above grade, that allowed for new types of program for the community. This concept would serve, over time, a new datum for the city to raise its grade when the proposed costal protection, "The Bar", would prove obselete, after the 100 year storm/sea level rise.

Instagram Username: @da_li_vinci @mustafa_bahce