Columbia GSAPP 
Spring 2021 
Sunset Park; Brooklyn, NY
Academic Studio - Design
Faculty: Anna Puigjaner (MAIO
Partner: Henri Decrausaz 
Queer Civic Infrastructure explores how queerness pervades critical domains that encompass the immigrant experience, domesticity, communal agency, and other themes beyond the realm of gender and sexuality. Initial research focused on the slippage in the spatial and social definitions of the site, the Sunset Park neighborhood in Brooklyn. 
The project concludes by proposing a queer civic infrastructure that acknowledges the diverse protagonists in Sunset Park.  See the resulting proposal under 'Queer Peripheries'.
SITE RESEARCH

The variety of spatial boundaries that cut through the area demonstrate how the neighborhood lacks adequate avenues for self-expression as political boundaries slip past the neighborhood.

Using statistical definitions of Sunset Park from the United States Census Bureau, a technocratic picture of Sunset Park portrays an area with a young and densely populated urban fabric experiencing high rent burden, a labor force engaged significantly in food production, and a multi-generational domestic care structure. 

We distilled these interests into a collection of visual artifacts using a ‘mood board’ format - from which we could start working with broad thematic clusters and the connections between them such as Policy Prejudice and the legal recognition [or rejection] of queer social structures and subsequent legal status. 

Cultural continuity and how these can relate to the home life of queer peoples became a central topic. The domestic environment, the ancillary structures of advocacy and activism, and the intersection of queerness and immigration also became important intersections of stressors on the community of Sunset Park.

CULTURAL PERFORMANCE

8th and 5th Avenues are the most energetic and identifiable settings of cultural performance for the respective Latino and Asian communities. While these are important economic and social destinations, this reading of the neighborhood compresses the entirety of lived culture, (in the home or in the public realm) to parallel axis, destined to never cross.
SUSTAINING CULTURAL IDENTITY
Indicative of the nature cultural enclaves facing the external pressure of a location other than their home, communities rally around what is perceived as sustaining their cultural identity. Indeed, while it is irresponsible to define the richness of communities with flat cultural artifacts, as outsiders working in these communities it is important for us to identify how these peoples stake out their place in an urban fabric.
STRESSORS ON SELF EXPRESSION
All communities exist with various beliefs and values interwoven with their cultural identity; this, in turn, shapes the everyday life of its peoples. Whether vestiges of a state’s ideal, societal convention or religious tradition, these stressors can then constrain individuals’ ability to exercise authentic self-expression and their comfort in doing so. (This is not to necessarily denigrate the entirety of such closely-held principles, but ask what feeds the context where queer members of a community feel the need to hide their true identity)
Labor Destination, Family Deconstruction

The rigors of establishing a home in a foreign land come to blow with the desire for normative family structures.  Families will spatially deconstruct themselves, typically by one guardian relocating to another country to find work.  This conflict between labors-- economic and social--has played out over decades:  some families eventually fully establish themselves in the United States, others move back to their country of origin.
Seniors as Avatars for Cultural Continuity

     In Sunset Park, over 40% of grandparents are responsible for their grandchildren, compared to just 13% in the United States as a whole, demonstrating not only the labor of elder care, but also the labor of care that elders perform. The elevation of elders as caregivers and as a critical resource for the preservation of culture and practices serves to explain the reverence that grandparents hold in the community of Sunset Park.
Queer Spatial Performance

“Just paint it rainbow;” an act of theater and solidarity, on significant days celebrating the visibility and honoring the struggle of queer peoples, landmarks are lit up in rainbow.  At its heart, these instagram-ready scenes are more publicity than action.  The visibility of queer spaces is fraught with the visibility of queer people: not all people are willing to be labeled--in public--as queer.  In short, spaces are put to queer use, rather than designed to be queer at the outset.
Queer Archipelago

The umbrella term of ‘queer’ forms linked yet distinct identities, existing in a millieu of other societal identifiers.  These identities form complex intersections of belief, performance, and expression.  The social experience of queerness is mirrored in queer spaces: ‘gayborhoods’ act as urban social islands acting as collectives and condensors of queer culture in the fabric of spaces, notably in cities.
Icon of Queer Civic Infrastructure

Xstatsy is one of few explicit elements of gay infrastructure in Sunset Park.  A gay bar, its name suggests a status of subversive and enthralling culture rather than one of contemplative social isolation.  An otherwise plain corner, there is a temptation to ascribe iconoclastic status to this building, heightening its subversive suggestion while demonstrates how icons are not wholly instructive to movements. 
Blended Identity

Those who navigate the thresholds between cultural enclaves and their setting, particularly young immigrants or children born to recent immigrants, straddle culture practiced in the home with the dominant customs or language of their context. The likely result is a blended identity, a spectrum in which one’s sense of self oscillates given circumstance and the environment.

PRECEDENT RESEARCH
Using the Comedores Comunitarios in Mexico City as an example, we thought about the blurring of public and private: as privately owned spaces are queered into the public in order to serve the public need of nutrition. This was then translated to the context of Sunset Park to reinterpret the challenges and opportunities associated with the queer and immigrant experiences in the United States. Introducing more specificity to the architectural necessities of these programs, we tried to envision the thematic categories that could be deployed to challenge conventional heteronormative architectural assumptions.
Concurrently, we sought to develop a lexicon of the way architecture serves this purpose by scrutinizing the works of queer practitioners, spaces that queer traditional architectural typology, and spaces that subvert expectations. We sought  to learn from projects designed by queer practitioners, projects for queer clients, iconic queer architectures, and buildings that perform in ways that confront assumptions and norms in terms of space, ambiance and performance. 
PLACE OF UNMASKING  --  LES HALLES, OMA (2003)  --  PARIS, FRANCE
PLACE OF UNMASKING -- LES HALLES, OMA (2003) -- PARIS, FRANCE
PLACE OF RE-STANDARDIZATION -- BROOKLYN ARMY TERMINAL RE-FURBISHMENT, AGENCIE -- BROOKLYN, NEW YORK
PLACE OF RE-STANDARDIZATION -- BROOKLYN ARMY TERMINAL RE-FURBISHMENT, AGENCIE -- BROOKLYN, NEW YORK
PLACE OF STANDARDIZATION -- GENERIC WAREHOUSE -- BROOKLYN, NEW YORK
PLACE OF STANDARDIZATION -- GENERIC WAREHOUSE -- BROOKLYN, NEW YORK
PLACE OF UNEXPECTED EPHEMERAL MEETING -- HOUSE OF ONE, KUEHN MALVEZZI (2011) -- BERLIN, GERMANY
PLACE OF UNEXPECTED EPHEMERAL MEETING -- HOUSE OF ONE, KUEHN MALVEZZI (2011) -- BERLIN, GERMANY
PLACE OF PERFORMATIVE CAMOFLAGE -- FUKUOKA PREFECTURAL HALL, EMILIO AMBASZ (1995) -- FUKUOKA, JAPAN
PLACE OF PERFORMATIVE CAMOFLAGE -- FUKUOKA PREFECTURAL HALL, EMILIO AMBASZ (1995) -- FUKUOKA, JAPAN
PLACE OF UNEXPECTED INFRASTRUCTURAL MEETING -- ZEEBRUGGE SEA TERMINAL, OMA (1988) -- ZEEBRUGGE, BELGIUM
PLACE OF UNEXPECTED INFRASTRUCTURAL MEETING -- ZEEBRUGGE SEA TERMINAL, OMA (1988) -- ZEEBRUGGE, BELGIUM
PLACE OF CORPOREAL EXPERIENCE -- SUNSET PARK POOL, AYMAR EMBURY II (1936) -- BROOKLYN, UNITED STATES
PLACE OF CORPOREAL EXPERIENCE -- SUNSET PARK POOL, AYMAR EMBURY II (1936) -- BROOKLYN, UNITED STATES
PLACE OF FORMALIZED INTIMACY -- HOUSE OF PLEASURES, CLAUDE NICOLAS LE DOUX (1780) -- CHAUX, FRANCE
PLACE OF FORMALIZED INTIMACY -- HOUSE OF PLEASURES, CLAUDE NICOLAS LE DOUX (1780) -- CHAUX, FRANCE
PLACE OF RETREAT -- LOVE SHACK, HUSOS ARCHITECTS (2021) -- MADRID, SPAIN
PLACE OF RETREAT -- LOVE SHACK, HUSOS ARCHITECTS (2021) -- MADRID, SPAIN
PLACE OF DISJOINTED SPACES (CURVY) -- TEMPORARY LAKE MUSEUM, ANNE HOLTROP (2010) -- HEEMSKERK, THE NETHERLANDS
PLACE OF DISJOINTED SPACES (CURVY) -- TEMPORARY LAKE MUSEUM, ANNE HOLTROP (2010) -- HEEMSKERK, THE NETHERLANDS
PLACE OF HIDDEN INTIMACY -- ST ANNE'S COURT, CHRISTOPHER TUNNARD (1936) -- SURREY, ENGLAND
PLACE OF HIDDEN INTIMACY -- ST ANNE'S COURT, CHRISTOPHER TUNNARD (1936) -- SURREY, ENGLAND
PLACE OF QUEER SYMBOL -- STONEWALL INN (1968) -- NEW YORK CITY, UNITED STATES
PLACE OF QUEER SYMBOL -- STONEWALL INN (1968) -- NEW YORK CITY, UNITED STATES
PLACE OF LAYERS -- 33RD LANE HOUSE, JEFFREY BAWA (1959) -- COLOMBO, SRI LANKA
PLACE OF LAYERS -- 33RD LANE HOUSE, JEFFREY BAWA (1959) -- COLOMBO, SRI LANKA
PLACE OF INTERSECTIONS -- TEMPORARY PAVILION FOR BARRAGAN'S NEIGHBOR, ANGELO RENNA + ANTONIO MINTO (2012) -- MEXICO CITY, MEXICO
PLACE OF INTERSECTIONS -- TEMPORARY PAVILION FOR BARRAGAN'S NEIGHBOR, ANGELO RENNA + ANTONIO MINTO (2012) -- MEXICO CITY, MEXICO
PLACE OF INSIDE/OUTSIDE -- GENERIC ROW HOUSE -- BROOKLYN, UNITED STATES
PLACE OF INSIDE/OUTSIDE -- GENERIC ROW HOUSE -- BROOKLYN, UNITED STATES
PLACE OF NORMATIVITY -- GENERIC ROW HOUSE -- BROOKLYN, UNITED STATES
PLACE OF NORMATIVITY -- GENERIC ROW HOUSE -- BROOKLYN, UNITED STATES
PLACE OF DISJOINTED SPACES (BOXY) -- NEW YORK EQUAL RIGHTS HERITAGE CENTER, NARCHITECTS (2019) -- AUBURN, UNITED STATES
PLACE OF DISJOINTED SPACES (BOXY) -- NEW YORK EQUAL RIGHTS HERITAGE CENTER, NARCHITECTS (2019) -- AUBURN, UNITED STATES
PLACE OF THEATER -- TEATRINO, SALOTTOBUONO (2018) -- MILAN, ITALY
PLACE OF THEATER -- TEATRINO, SALOTTOBUONO (2018) -- MILAN, ITALY
PLACE OF FACADE -- OCI-CA'DARIO, MARIOVIC (2014) -- VENICE, ITALY
PLACE OF FACADE -- OCI-CA'DARIO, MARIOVIC (2014) -- VENICE, ITALY
PLACE OF MISUSE  --  SANNO OFFICE, STUDIO VELOCITY (2020)  --  OKAZAKI, JAPAN
PLACE OF MISUSE -- SANNO OFFICE, STUDIO VELOCITY (2020) -- OKAZAKI, JAPAN
PLACE OF DIVISION -- GOWANUS EXPRESSWAY, NEW YORK DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION (1939) -- BROOKLYN, UNITED STATES
PLACE OF DIVISION -- GOWANUS EXPRESSWAY, NEW YORK DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION (1939) -- BROOKLYN, UNITED STATES
We used these projects as placeholders to experiment with different critical adjacencies in the various spatial conditions of Sunset Park.  These tests evaluated how superimposing, blending and juxtaposing building performances and programs could queer the neighborhood and prompt additional questions about how queer architecture--a subject which has mostly mostly been written about rather than actualized--can manifest in Sunset Park.
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