Netlab Ties for First to Build a Better Burb

The Network Architecture Lab (in collaboration with Park) tied for first in the Build a Better Burb ideas competition with Long Division, its project to reimagine Long Island for the twenty-first century. 

Sponsored by the Long Island Index, a project of the Rauch Foundation, Build a Better Burb set out to identify solutions for making suburbs better, more sustainable places to live. The Long Division entry began with the premise that a regional planning strategy—together with local architectural interventions in the form of new hybrid building types—is essential. 

On a regional level, we sought to preserve Long Island's aquifer—a vast resource under threat from an over-developed environment—by suggesting that a regional planning authority might selectively void areas in the eastern part of the island that sit on top of the aquifer, are underserved by infrastructure, and are populated by an aging population. Here we proposed the long term use of eminent domain, tax incentives, and other prods to encourage individuals to move into denser housing in town centers while the resulting voids would be turned over to boutique organic agricultural production compatible with the aquifer together with nature preserves and other aquifer-friendly uses. 

In the already-dense western part of the island we propose to further densify city centers, deploying a set of new hybrid building types based on demographic needs and interests. We drew inspiration for these large structures from architect Victor Gruen's development of the shopping mall, a product of the suburbs and perhaps the last genuinely new building type but incorporated a variety of uses for varied populations. To intensify the density in these city centers, we introduced new parkland in less dense residential areas through strategic voiding of less desirable properties so as to allow these overbuilt suburbs to have breathing room.

Please see the video at Vimeo below, together with a pdf booklet on our work here.

Netlab members contributing to this project were Kazys Varnelis, Netlab Director; Leigha Dennis, Project Lead; Momo Araki, Alexis Burson, and Kyle Hovenkotter. We would like to thank Will Prince of Park for his invaluable contributions.     

Long Division from Kazys Varnelis on Vimeo.

Project lead Leigha Dennis speaks to a television news reporter at the awards ceremony.