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the banal

The Tactics of Everyday Life & The Creation of a Thick Edge

Designer & Illustrator : Tommy Yang / Design Critic : Brian McGrath [http://www.urban-interface.com]

Historically, Broadway Junction was founded as part of a bigger initiative to connect the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) to the Fulton Ferry. Located in the valley of the NYC Glacial Moraine between Forest Hill Park and Prospect Park, the Junction is an intersection between automobiles, rails, humans, and animals through vegetation and constructed environments. This intersection between multiple systems is the core of why strategically this railway node is one of the most contested sites in Brooklyn. In Mary Louise Pratt’s essay “Arts of the Contact Zone,” she illustrates the built environment as a form cultural product – the layouts of interior spaces, the visual representations, and structures reflects the cultural values of those who built the structure. Partitions, walls, doors, and windows entrances act as boundaries between various social domains. Therefore, the very act of inhabiting a building programmed mainly as a subway junction by people and culture other than the users visualizes what Mary Louise Pratt calls a contact zone, or “social spaces where cultures meet, clash, and grapple with each other, often in contexts of highly asymmetrical relations of power ...”

The following drawings illustrates this contact zone of Broadway Junction as a plan, delineating the edge of the station and the multiple boundaries created through human interactions. According to Iain Borden, these boundaries creates what he calls a “thick edge,” where the “boundary here is never sealed, operating in a manner other than physical exclusion.” The drawing showcases the entrance of the station as layers, going through and crossing the halal shop, controlled 6AM in the morning until 3AM the next day. Then comes the tamales grandmother, who constantly screams “Tamales, Tamales,” a constant ringing tone in the background. And between the lies taxi drivers, the homeless, and a rotating series of follies, selling socks, umbrellas, toys, and from time to time, shoes. Unconsciously, everyone entering and leaving Broadway Junction becomes a part of an urban scene created by the neighborhood’s community, a tactic of the non-powerful to adapt a junction into a means of living.

Michel de Certau describes this “tactic” as an adaptation to the environment (created through strategies of the powerful) by the non-powerful. In Intersection of Ecologies an isometric of Broadway Junction illustrates these strategies through the laying of streets, planting of trees, and the hovering subway rails, all determined through city planning, architects, and urban designers. The intriguing arrangements occurs when the local taxi drivers began to wait by the entrance, the tamales grandmother setting up her cart, and the halal shop provide food 20-hours daily. This occurrence creates a bri-colage of community members cooperating and observing, taking advantage of the structures program and aiding the community’s. Truly overtaking the strategies of the powerful and recreating the urban junction scene.

Isometric Drawing / Broadway Junction, Intersection of Ecologies

Isometric Drawing / Broadway Junction, Intersection of Ecologies

ThickEdges / BroadWay Junction Plan

ThickEdges / BroadWay Junction Plan

IceAges and Hills / BroadWay Junction Perspective

IceAges and Hills / BroadWay Junction Perspective

Nature Ground / BroadWay Junction Plan

Nature Ground / BroadWay Junction Plan

Figure Ground / BroadWay Junction Plan

Figure Ground / BroadWay Junction Plan