Militarization of New York City – US Terror Tribune | Bart Nicolaas

The Militarization of New York City is a graduation research project by Bart Nicolaas. Starting with an essay called Domestic Front – The militarization of New York City, Nicolaas focuses on the militarization of US cities in the shadow of the urban warfare in cities in the Middle-East. He emphasizes the theoretical argumentation for the necessity of the spatial research/mappings in NYC and the architectural design for a US Terror Tribune. He says:

From the military perspective clarifying the environment, or in the case of New York City the urban space, is seen as something extremely important to be able to defend and control a city in a efficient way. US Homeland Security is therefore also attempting to redesign the basic everyday systems and urban spaces in New York City. “Even if this is sometimes a stealthy and invisible process. As a result, urban public life is being saturated by ‘intelligent’ surveillance systems, checkpoints, ‘defense’ urban design and planning and intensifying security.”

The project has been worked in three parts:

[1] From continuous lines to fragmented point-based borders
The spatial analysis/ mapping of the militarization of New York City started with a collection of maps made during the beginning of the graduation project. These maps emphasise the typical spatial characteristics of militarized space and borders at different scale levels and the fact that militarization of space takes places at any given scale level. It’s a stealthy transformation from continuous militarized borders to more fragmented and point-based borders.

[2] Spatial characteristics of militarized public space
The second part of the spatial research focusses on the mapping of two militarized public spaces/soft targets in Manhattan, NYC. Both the Headquarters of the New York Police department and the NYSE/Wall street are completely militarized. This militarization contains physical and non-physical networks of borders which occupy, secure and when needed defend both soft targets.

As a result you will get an abstract map of the neutral space -the neutral space is a in-between space on the border between to conflict areas, in this case the soft target and the public, always barricaded and only accessible through checkpoints- around both soft targets:

[3] Stealthy spatial characteristics
The third part of the spatial research of militarized public space in New York City contains even more maps. The stealthy spatial characteristics become visible through several different maps, each one focussing on a different aspect.

As Nicolaas says in his essay, after 9/11 New York City lives in a state of fear, where New York’s public spaces used to transmit the sense of security among strangers, the same spaces are now eroded by new and old threats, such as terrorism and increasing growth of social disorder. At those places, such as the WTC terrain or Wall Street, fear dominates the public space and by contrast, the militarization of its space is presented under the purpose to give people a secured feeling but on the other hand it is feeding the amount of fear.

This is a valuable research and a new way to show the results with some cool infographics that represents the whole mapping work done by Bart Nicolaas. He concludes that “it is be clear that Homeland Security and its military strategies have their influence into the planning and design of New York. By creating and maintaining fear under its citizens makes it possible to apply a ‘clarifying’ strategy on the city’s future planning and design.”

The project has been awarded with a honourable mention and pre-selected for the Dutch Archiprix 2009. The maps were made with information provided from different sources, websites and the spatial research itself in NYC. For more info you can go to Another Architecture BLOG or Another Architecture Office web-site.


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