(3) ~ Deep Peak
Central Park is arguably the canonical work of modern landscape architecture. Its aesthetic and socio-political ideals of health, beauty and democracy underpin the profession of landscape architecture, which Olmsted first named, to this day. Writing of the park in 1973, the artist Robert Smithson claimed that Olmsted “combined both art and reclamation in Central Park in a way that is truly in advance of his times.” But what would Olmsted do today? What will you do?...
LA+ ICONOCLAST asks you to redesign New York’s Central Park, which has been fictionally devastated by eco-terrorists.
The LA+ ICONOCLAST design ideas competition asked designers to reimagine Central Park to explore questions of how we represent nature and how we think about public space in the 21st century. There were 382 entrants from 30 countries, with a total of 193 designs competing for a share of $20,000 and feature publication in LA+.
Stars, cities, molecules. A sunrise, sounds of construction, a virus spreading. Our world consists of beings and entities that exist at radically different scales of time and space, all of which are gathered in this time that we call now and in this space that we call here. In this encounter, different ways of being, different ways of feeling the world, enter into dialogue.
Deep peak that is excavated in ancient Central Park to unearth the terrain on which we stand: visible and invisible, physical and metaphysical, the shale of Manhattan will be excavated to build a mountain, providing a city with a reflective landscape: The soil is removed from the earth to build a peak, exposing the geological substrates on which New York City and its predecessors have grown. Groundwater, pushed upward by rising sea levels, seeps into the void and forms a lake. The lake and the mountain reflect each other: the lake, a global index of water level; the mountain, an inverted archaeological index. What once was deeper underground is now at the apex. Are they stars in the sky or underground metro constellations?
The destabilized terrain opens up four spheres of dialogue. The atmosphere of our increasingly polluted skies and the distant stars. The hydrosphere for the rise in sea level. The geosphere, a cave to immerse oneself in the ctonic darkness that is the counterpart of daylight; and the agnostosphere, a zone that humans cannot enter, because of the unknown and unknowable. Four spheres that reactivate the primary ways of relating to the world.
Spinning around the mountain, the winds blow joyfully away from the human touch, the currents descend into the cave. There, in the soft, dark silence, far from the ever-lightening machine of the city, a pool of water awaits the sun of the winter solstice, surrounded by fungi and bacteria, ferns and mosses, and all the photophobic creatures that grow in the humid shadows.
The midnight sun manifests that we are not alone, but in the presence of beings and entities that exist at radically different scales of time and space. Human, plastic bag, virus.
The collection of earth is done in Central Park to unearth the ground on which we stand: visible and invisible, physical and metaphysical, material and maternal. The soil is removed from the ground to build a spike, exposing the geological substrates on which New York City and its predecessors have grown. Groundwater, pushed upward by rising sea levels, seeps into the void and forms a lake. The lake and the mountain reflect each other. The deepest part is now at the apex. Up and down are confused. Are they stars in the sky or subway constellations?
1 Honorable Mention on ICONOCLAST Competition LA+Journal
2 In colaboration with Felix de Rosén
3 LA+ ICONOCLAST’s jury comprised Lola Sheppard (Partner, Lateral Office), Charles Waldheim (Director, Office of Urbanism at Harvard GSD), Jenny Osuldsen (Partner, Snøhetta), Geoff Manaugh (Author, BLDGBLOG), Beatrice Galilee (Curator of Architecture + Design, The Metropolitan Museum of Art), and Richard Weller (Professor and Chair of Landscape Architecture and Urbanism, University of Pennsylvania).