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The Island Condition

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Academic Work

Columbia GSAPP 2018

Architectural Photography

Between Space Time | Urban Impressions

Instructor Erietta Attali

Just like its inhabitants, NYC is way too dense and fast and chaotic. All the constant chaos of the city shades one of its most remarkable features: the island condition, which reveals one more beautiful and contradictory layer. The edge of the island can be as calm and slow as waterscapes and natural landscape - or as chaotic as industrial, manufacturing and construction sites.

There is a relief in walking by the water, looking out into what the city sees – that is, if we are to understand that it ever looks outwards. If the first impression was of peaceful natural landscapes, it was then revealed that the edge of the city has not one, but many natures. And the journey later evolved into looking back into the city and reading it again through the new lenses of who was trying to escape it. 

In that crossing back and forth, out and back into the city, the rivers are strong characters: they are the edge itself, they define in and out, frame, divide. Nature in general has a strong role – as a good New Yorker, climate is also extreme here. Sudden snow and fog blur the views into Brooklyn, hiding in seconds what was just there. Wind throws far away benches and trash cans. Trees frame views everywhere, giving whatever is framed a distinct feeling of something that wishes to hide itself. 

The relentless repetition of these frames ended up revealing other thresholds in different scales. As is the river to the island, are the walls and fences to the urban scale and the windows to the building. They divide, frame, organize, layer, define public and private - and also become a threshold, filtering light and communicating the outside to the inside. The juxtaposition of these thresholds in different scales appear to frame the city again and again, in an endless attempt to maybe organize an overflowing vibration.

This process witnessed winter and spring, day and night, sunset and sunrise – rendering light and time major roles. All that is revealed when the day comes, and the unavoidable appeal of what the darkness hides. 

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