August 27 2016 / 635 Saint Marks Ave
Pool of Thought / Richard Friedman / NYT / July 2016
RIVERS, FILTH AND HEAT: THE CONFLICT OVER THE CLOSURE OF NEW YORK CITY RIVER BATHS, 1910-1938 / NAOMI ADIV
Although the City of New York opened and maintained indoor bathhouses and indoor swimming pools beginning in 1901, New Yorkers continued to swim in ‘floating baths’ or ‘river baths’ through the 1930s. These were slatted tanks, surrounded by docks and open to the sky, where the water of the East and Hudson Rivers flowed through. Beginning in 1903, a conflict arose over whether or not the river baths should be maintained, as the unfiltered river water carried sewage, industrial waste, and blood from slaughterhouses. While the increasingly influential Department of Public health found the waters dangerous, the decision to close the floating baths was met with suspicion that the City wanted to close the river baths in order to force patronage at the newly constructed indoor bathhouses. In public hearings, discussion also included the question of whether more people would get sick from the river water or from summer heat in the city. This paper will explore the questions of how ideas of well-being are distributed spatially through urban infrastructure, which public or publics get to decide what healthy practices are in public spaces, and the extent to which the municipal state can or should comply.
CULTURAL WATERSCAPES: WATER SOURCES AND THEIR ROLE IN URBAN CRISES / SILVIA VERCHER
The meaning of pools, water, and waterbodies are extremely diverse and complex in different countries, cultures, religions, and time. Also the relationship between water and its context impacts in different dimension people every day’s life. We understand water as a food resource, transportation system, economic tool, recreational body, natural habitat, mystic region, and cities’ power, among other definitions. Due to water’s value, I believe designers can use water as a catalyst for building sustainable public spaces where traditions and innovative strategies merge in a collective learning experience. I have named these rich and versatile spaces Cultural Waterscapes.
New Urban Agenda defined by experts and United Nations for Sustainable Global Urbanization calls for an integrated system of water planning where the sustainable use of water should be promoted through a holistic water cycle approach. Through the lenses of culture and water I, together with a team, proposed in Delhi, India, to transform water from a complex element related to multiple and diverse threats such as pollution, inequality, and scarcity, to a democratic asset allowing innovative urban projects based on multi-functional social spaces, or Cultural Waterscapes.
The projected 38 % increase in population in Delhi, India, by 2021 will put an immense pressure on energy, on city’s water supply, at energy infrastructure and public spaces. Delhi currently houses 18 million people of which more than 70% live in unplanned areas, more than 55% of water is imported, causing further depletion of the underground water-table, disconnecting Delhi physically and culturally from its Yamuna River. Through the lenses of culture and water the proposed project imagines Lutyens Plan, the imposed British Empire design, transformed from an imperial symbol of power and inequality, to a democratic space using water as a tool to generate socio-ecological spaces and infrastructure. Finally, water is the catalyst for future growth of services and densification that will support the city at a regional scale.
STATE OF THE POOL: BATHING RITUALS, SUITS AND BODIES / MAYA PORATH
During the past few summers, there have been a number of incidents at pools and beaches that have provoked public outcry. Located at the intersection of leisure, near-naked bodies, and public space, bathing sites are charged with competing ideas of freedom, exposure, and religious practice.
For the past 20 years, the public Metropolitan Pool in Williamsburg neighborhood, Brooklyn, accommodates the demands of the neighboring Hasidic Jewish community, and designates women only swimming hours for three mornings a week. Following a complaint, tensions flared as the non-Orthodox neighbors protested the restrictions on access to a public space and the city reduced the number of allocated hours. June 2016
The French ban on Burkinis led to police officers demanding a Muslim woman remove her clothing on a Nice beach. A photograph of the officers surrounding the woman as she undressed sent waves across the world, protesting the strict enforcement of France’s secular nationalism. August 2016
A man was violently arrested at a historically queer New York City beach for a brief moment of nudity. July 2016
Responding to a complaint about teenagers climbing the fence to a pool in an affluent gated community in McKinney, Texas, a police officer violently restrained a black teenage girl wearing a bikini. The McKinney Pool Party video went viral as it then caught the officer waving his gun at the surrounding group of black teenagers. June 2015
Documented and distributed widely, these incidents ignite existing racial, gender and national conflicts, exposing the relationships between different populations both locally and internationally.