DIALECTIC UTOPIANISM AT AN ANTHROPOCENE INDUSTRIAL EDGE
Blue City aims to critique the prototypical dichotomy of formal versus informal espoused, usually with good intentions, by preeminent theorists in the context of the metacity. This dichotomy is also leveraged by the ruling class to delegitimize the informal in favor of the formal in order to maintain a status quo where urban development is taxable, regulatable, and feeds its wealth back to the top. Blue City provides a framework for people to opt in to a system of guilds based on interest and ability, allowing each to develop organically without the prescriptive hand of the architect/urbanist. The synergies between guilds are allowed to emerge in ways that a single architectural vision can not even yet imagine.
My proposal for Blue City abolishes the dichotomous formal/ informal in favor of a dialectical approach, in which the in-between and outside relationships between the two become pronounced. The approach to the site begins in conversation with the aquaponic adaptive reuse of the grain terminal. By creating a bioremediated fish hatchery on the water and welcoming those interested in that work, a small
aquacultural infrastructure begins to form to supplement the adjacent aquaponics. Once this grassroots guild of aquaculturists establishes itself, amphibious construction of Blue City can begin.
Zone 1: Frank is currently employed by a produce wholesaler in a warehouse along Columbia Street, giving him the opportunity to be one of the first to participate in the Blue City Guild System. He organizes a recycling program, wherein his truck drivers return to him empty crates from their partner stores. Once a week, he brings some of the smaller empty crates down to the boardwalk where Parsons architecture student volunteers lead after-school mentorship programs for local grade schoolers, including fort-making. The students are always happy to take some of the crates back to studio for scrap materials. Together with his coworkers, Frank also decides to partner with the Billion Oyster Project to set up oyster cages along their new floating dock. He donates some of his empty crates to them, although he makes sure to leave some for his own team as they monitor their oysters.
Zone 2: Dee is a local neighborhood activist. They recently relocated from Manhattan, where they spent years organizing weekly mutual aid distribution. The Blue City Guild System provided a unique and exciting infrastructure to continue their grassroots work. In that spirit, they connected with the Red Hook Initiative to give away leftover produce from the grain terminal’s aquaponic systems. In order to eventually move towards self sustenance and bioremediation, they are experimenting with a community “Marsh Garden” of plants such as watercress and water mint. And of course, to promote joy, Dee is able to wrangle their old friend The Subway DJ to play music at distribution events and even nighttime waterside raves.
Zone 3: Ronaldo is a trans biologist exploring phytoremediation in New York’s waterfronts. He has acquired and transformed a Blue City barge into a floating laboratory, as modeled by the RETI Center. Though his research using kelp and bivalves like scallops is highly technical and ambitious, he enlists his favorite local drag queens (led by the “Mother
of Manhattan Drag” Kizha Carr) to conduct “Science Hours,” ranging from kid-friendly to downright naughty, to showcase his team’s work. His goal is to inspire people to become interested in restoring vulnerable waterfronts so that one day they may swim in the waters of the Gowanus Bay. For now he is content to see queers, scientists, and locals intermingle in the name of a better future, with plenty of laughter to boot.
Amphibious social system
Gowanus Bay, Brooklyn