The Understory follows the philosophy of being inclusive, accessible and able to facilitate conversations about social and environmental issues, a platform for the residence of East Harlem to raise their voices. When we look at where impactful and physical manifestos usually happen, it’s generally in civic public spaces, with large open ground such as plaza and street.

When starting our design, we think that it needs to be the first and foremost a public space that can facilitate visible forms of collective action. Following some studies of existing public spaces, we have observed that parks promote environmentally friendly public space and provide an open ground space for congregations to collect and express voices for social, political, and ecological issues. Moreover, while looking into the parks around the site, we notice they are all tiny, mostly paved, fenced, and programmed for specific usage.

Hence we’re proposing an urban park that is highly accessible 24/7, un-programmed, and welcomes any forms of social events and activism. At the same time, the park will also tackle other issues such as locally reducing the urban heat island effect and providing a more diverse and welcoming landscape for the residence of East Harlem.

Location: East Harlem, NYC
Team Member: Pearl Cao, Alison Huo