Eleni Stefania is a New York based architect and urban designer, focused on the interactions between water bodies and urbanism as well as regeneration of de-industrialized landscapes through living infrastructure. She graduated from Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation(GSAPP) with a Master of Science in Architecture and Urban Design (Class 2020) after having previously completed a five year degree in Architectural Engineering from National Technical University of Athens(NTUA),Greece. During her studies in NTUA, she was awarded the Stavros Niarxos landscape architecture intership for the masterplan of the National Opera and Library Complex in Athens,Greece. Her academic and professional experience includes projects that concern issues of water conservation, deindustrialization, environmental degradation, adaptive reuse and the design of cultural landscapes that enabled her to synthesize new readings of landscape systems, and identify the flows and dynamics that shape the world today. Therefore helped her to envision projects that are consonant with the deep context of a place, its scale, its materiality, its broader environmental-socio political and economic agendas. Her work has been exhibited at the European Center for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies and published on GSAPP’s website page and ArcDaily. She is open to new job opportunities that will effectively intergrate architecture, landscape and ecology relative to the unfolding challenges of climate change.
TOWARDS AN ENGINEERED-TIMBER CIVIC REALMON HUDSON VALLEY’S URBAN FRINGE
The project aims to repurpose 2000 acres of underperforming and marginalized land for shared timber farming in order to enact a more adequate synergistic relationship (socio-economically and environmentally) between the built space and the fragmented Hudson Valley’s forest.
In Hudson Valley, most of the trees are privately owned, growing on land at the fringe of urban development- Wildland Urban Intermix (WUI). Hudson Valley’s Wildland Urban Intermix land is currently environmentally and economically underperforming. It demonstrates the typical unsustainable conditions present in contemporary rural American towns: large-scale impervious surfaces that fragment the regional forest corridors, defunct industrial, commercial and transportation infrastructure that demand innovative schemes for sustainable vegetative strategies and green infrastructure as well as hyperactive development potential on the near future that threatens the biodiversity of the remaining Greenfields, tree-covered areas and accessible open green public spaces that are already significantly shrunk and ecologically undervalued due to the unregulated urban sprawl of the last decades.
The major economic engines of Hudson Valley-traditional building materials and farming- are currently unsustainable under the current context of Climate Change and for this project these economies are acknowledged as already obsolete. Following this urgent need for climate-responsive economic reform and taking into consideration the 2018 Timber Innovation Act and the forthcoming 2021 IBC Engineered Timber update that both harness the potential of mass timber building elements manufacturing from sustainable-managed-forests as a viable option for reducing the built space’s impact on the environment in the years to come, this project investigates the utilization of timber farming as a catalyst for environmentally and socio-economically beneficial civic space design.
Tackling the large-scale U.S. monopoly of engineered-timber products, the project envisions a bottom-up timber economy- a vertically integrated, resilient timber supply chain- as a way to incentivize private landowners to sustainably manage their own forests while directly accessing a shared infrastructure of researching, harvesting, manufacturing and retail, waste-recycling and branding for their timber product. By creating a shared collaborative infrastructure for local forest and small-timber-business owners and entrepreneurs, new social partnerships and equally-distributed amenities will be created, boosting local economies while preserving the local and regional forest ecologies.
By sustaining long-term forest-plant-based economic development through this shared co-op system, Hudson Valley’s scaled-down timber industry will be funneled while a more socially adequate distribution of profits between diverse communities will be achieved. Composed by four entities, the Center for Resilient Forestry which is clustered with Wood Innovation Facilities, the Certification Centers, the Sawmill and Distribution Center with additional facilities for Recycling and Storage and Renewable Energy Generation, this project provides a lasting infrastructure that promotes a holistic framework for profitable and sustainable timber agroforestry that ensures the wellbeing of both the forest and its inhabitants.
The proposal aims to construct human experience with a Spirit of Place activating an urban underutilised space that now acts as a left-over void in-between the exisitng built urban blocks and the transportation infrastructure.The aim of this multifunctional infrastructure(library & community hub) is to enable bottom-up correlations of this culturally diverse neighborhood with the traditionally recognized forms of the top-down(institutional) knowledge sharing.The library is organised around two typologies of spaces:the central atrium(a flexible space where the users of the library can “customize” the space according to their needs and re-arrange their stations in a flexible & open-ended way) and the perimeter(an authored scheme that wraps around the central atrium space where the informal story-telling is produced, archived and accessed).The remaining elements that insert within this perimeter, provide gathering spaces for workshops, community discussions or recordings production and consumption(watching videos from the archived library section, for instance). These inserts, by pushing into the outer skin of the building, also variate space in proximity to the public sidewalk and create different conditions within the interior-in-between perimeter scheme and the central atrium space.