For the first half of our design studio with Pier Vittorio Aureli this semester at Yale School of Architecture, we were broken up into three research groups in order to gain a better understanding of the topic of designing housing for the creative class in Newark, New Jersey. This also facilitated a studio-wide discussion, fostering the creation of knowledge-based theses about our design intentions. The three topics we were divided into: Labor, Housing, and Newark, resulted in concise presentations, and required the development of succinct ideas on how each topic relates the problem we are addressing. It has been incredibly educational to hear the history of labor as it relates to traditions of productivity and idealized working environments, especially in light of Marissa Mayer’s recent request for Yahoo employees to stop working from home and return to the office. Additionally, the housing group has provided numerous precedents for understanding spatial conditions and government initiatives which affect the living condition standards which are ever-changing.

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1666 Settlement  of Newark                                          1950 Settlement of Newark

I am very fortunate to have been assigned to researching Newark because I was able to learn about a city that I have passed through many times, but knew verylittle about. In addition, map-making became a very effective way of conveying an idea about its tendencies, latent aspirations and infrastructural impositions. The process of map-making became a voice for my group to establish precise ideas and critically understand the best way of portraying these ideas. We made nearly fifty iterations of maps based on a range of sources which include satellite views of the Northeast, historical maps of New Jersey, and simply the topographic and natural landscape in which Newark was settled. It has been incredible to see the transformation in representation and how effective each stage has been in our understanding. The Newark group, which included partners, Stephanie Lee and RJ Tripodi, ended up only using about five of the maps created in our mid-review presentation today.

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1666 Tendency of Newark                                     1950 Tendency of Newark

The white maps above point out the 1666 settlement in relation to the water which supported the agrarian and theocratic society it was aiming to establish. But by the mid 20th century, the post-industrial society had gone through a number of transformations to support the once booming economy, and the transportation and manufacturing hub it became. 

The black maps above show the inherent tendency to develop a city grid which was lost by the mid 20th century because of the fragmentation made part by infrastructure which was constructed to help people pass through, but ended up leaving the city heavily divided.