LIRR : Long Island Radically Rezoned

Sven Peters 2010-2013

in collaboration with Tobias Holler, Katlyn Mulry and Ana Serra

LIRR Long Island Radically Rezoned – a regenerative vision for a Living IslandResearch Project, 2010-2011People’s Choice Winner, Build a Better Burb competition, 2010 1st place, D3 Natural Systems competition, 2010Shortlisted, Living Cities Design competition, 2011Team: Tobias Holler, Ana Serra, Sven Peters, Katelyn MulryWhat if Long Island, currently comprising of 117 towns, became a single urban system entity, functioning as a city of 3.1 million inhabitants? Long Island’s most unique and defining condition is that of containment and the island itself – a spatial entity unable to expand beyond its own footprint. We explored the possibilities of conceptually capitalizing on this ‘insular’ condition and imagined Long Island as a ‘Living Island’, self-sufficient and regenerative. Through Radical Rezoning, this self-contained system, when looked at holistically, has the potential to provide all the necessary resources for its 3.1 million inhabitants, something currently not feasible due to its highly fragmented administrative structure. The relatively low density of suburbia coupled with the densification potential of the downtown areas present a unique opportunity to reintroduce large amounts of open space to the island while maintaining or even increasing its overall population capacity.The proposal aimed to envision how true sustainability may be achievable in Long Island by sharing resources across boundary lines, applying closed loop principles on a macro scale: water, energy and waste neutral and 100% local food production – a completely self-sufficient and waste free island. Sixty years after William Levitt built his first subdivision on the potato fields of the Hempstead Plains, Long Island once again can serve as a testing ground for new settlement patterns. What the project's video

What if we draw on the metabolism of an island to provide a regenerative natural environment? What if we push innovation and create synergies between the various resource streams to arrive at systemic solutions? We then have a Living Island proposal, applying closed loop principles on a macro scale: water, energy and waste neutral and 100% local food production. In order to share resources efficiently the current administrative structure is eliminated in favor of a ‘proximityto-mass-transit’ (LIRR) based structure: the Smart Cells - polygons which have infrastructure as the driver and a natural perimeter: a restorative connective fabric for habitat, recreation and agriculture, a 50/50 balance between nature and man-made. To obtain the area needed we capitalize on the densification potential of the downtowns. Four strategies are applied to revitalize and repopulate these vacant and lifeless areas:
Fix-a-block: ‘wrap’ blocks given over to surface parking with public program/ retail around existing buildings and over parking structures and add low-rise high density residential ‘carpet’ on top.
Re-center: create central public space at the train station, this new vibrant downtown center is an extension of the eco-boulevard and re-centers towns to give them a new identity where folded landscape of public space bridges from street level to elevated train tracks.
Mall Chopper: subdivide large underutilized surface parking around mall into small blocks that echo the small scale grain of the surrounding context. Apply fix-a-block rules.
Resi-Dense: densify residential fabric by inserting additional units around existing single family houses.