Academic - Columbia GSAPP 
Spring 2021 
Sunset Park; Brooklyn, NY
Architecture Studio - Design
Faculty: Anna Puigjaner (MAIO
Partner: Henri Decrausaz 
Queer Peripheries 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. See the research that built Queer Peripheries under 'Queer Civic Infrastructure'.
The project proposes an infrastructure that acknowledges the diverse protagonists in Sunset Park; Queer Peripheries submits that queering the material and urban reality of the neighborhood can provoke new agency for its peoples. 
We chose this section of Sunset Park due to its well defined North and South borders which produce radically different urban experiences within a four block area:  residences to the south facing Sunset Park, the commercial axis on 5th avenue to the west, and manufacturing and infrastructural to the north, sitting between the main Hispanic and Asian avenues.
This testbed site allowed us to think about querying the urban condition and denizens' habitual routines; this led us to we identify five sites of interventions. These urban fragments embody typical urban conditions, not only in their insufficiency to function intersectionally, but also as opportunities to forecast a new neighborhood-wide normal.
A RESOURCE FOR LEISURE
Currently this fragment serves as a node of labor on the commercial axis of 5th avenue. As a laundromat, this site represents not only gendered labor routines but also the material realities of the neighborhood.
LAUNDERING LABOR

The queering of this laundromat proposes utilizing the surplus time from the spin and drying cycles of the washing machines to 'launder labor' and produce the opportunity for unexpected leisure.

Simultaneously, the site communicates new urban routines of a more inclusive neighborhood by acting as a 'storefront' for the other Queer Civic Infrastructures proposed in the neighborhood.
The space functions as a mask to obfuscate: a retreat from the streetscape.  The stacking of spaces sectionally blend and blur the processes of labor routine and corporal leisure.
An entry via an enfilade that reproduces the threshold condition disrupts the normative metabolism of a mono-spatial laundromat. These frames both acknowledge and reform the laundry nook by creating spaces for sound bathing in dryer asmr and a sunroom for yoga and folding laundry. 
A RESOURCE FOR UNDERSTANDING
Resigned to the fringe of neighborhood, this school (Challenge Early Intervention) currently works exclusively with infants up to three years of age with special needs. While this is necessary and important work, the liminal site of the school and the specificity of its student body ultimately belies the importance of the educational apparatus in the community and perhaps misses out on fully harnessing the agency of families to function as part of learning.
Ambiguous Classroom

All under one roof, we proposed a non hierarchical approach to lifelong learning which includes curricula for young adults, families and seniors as well as the neighborhood children.
As a resource for understanding, the overlapping themes and spaces creates a co-mingling of people and ideas to foster a solidarity and inclusivity.  Auxiliary functions such as storage, mechanical and circulation are pushed to the building's perimeter or exterior, allowing for one big, ambiguous classroom.
A RESOURCE FOR DISCOVERY
Tucked between two residential apartment buildings, this Krishna temple sits at odds with the predominant stereotypes and narratives of Sunset Park:  it doesn’t answer the question ‘Chinese or Mexican?’ nor ‘Residential or Industrial?’, it rejects those binaries.  Therefore, we view this building as a prime candidate for repurposing due to its demure character and adjacency to the key social and spatial asset of the neighborhood, Sunset Park. 
SELF-DISCOVERY SPACE

This resource reflects the experience of its protagonists, focusing on continuous self-discovery and is intended to reflect the agency and desires by the community of Sunset Park.
From the lesson that there are never really distinct queer spaces, only spaces put to queer use, this intervention is itself distinct from other ubiquitous public spaces.
The building's two opposing entrances offer two unique means of procession into the earth, where performance and art shows can be held, and communal intimacy is nurtured in a space alluding to the clandestine, but ultimately formatted to aspire to the ephemeral.
A RESOURCE FOR COMMUNAL CARE
The free standing family home (despite this exact example being a duplex) is one of the most enduring symbols of hetero-normativity. In the context of the diverse residential densities of the Sunset Park, this site performs as an exemplar of economic routines that ultimately stress upon the daily lives of the community.
PATRIARCHAL CONTROL TO MATRIARCHAL CARE

As queer infrastructure, the 'White House' (as we jokingly refer to it) is transmuted from being a patriarchal capitalist object into a locus of matriarchal community care.
As a new home for Mixteca, a Sunset Park-based community agency, this location formalizes the additional programs the agency has taken on during the Covid-19 pandemic. The intervention creates a new home for the administrative and logistical efforts to advocate for the community and includes a food bank, greenhouse, and social space.
A RESOURCE FOR ADVOCACY
This fragment is best defined as leftover space; a patchwork of miscellaneous surface treatments used for spillover parking or impromptu storage. It is inert, overlooking the rail yard at the termination of an abridged section of 6th Avenue, despite that this corridor creates a boulevard connecting back to Sunset Park.
MONUMENT TO THE NEIGHBORHOOD

The means of queering this intervention reimagines this ancillary space as a public plaza and a kind of monument to the neighborhood; it is a space to be used for markets, celebrations, and organizing.
The plaza has a character of permissiveness where local domestic life can play out in the public realm by including daybeds, a soapbox for community banter, and shower blocks.
Queer Peripheries acknowledges the diverse protagonists in Sunset Park and proposes that queering the material and urban reality of the neighborhood can provoke new agency for its people.

Back to Top