The present state of the selected sites includes dominant traffic infrastructure (vast parking lots) and the railroad as a barrier. There is no public space and sparse green can be found. The problems that rise from here are: non-attractiveness of the space, decreased feeling of safety, and environmental problems, such as non-permeable soil and disturbed microclimate. Intervention in these areas encompasses reorganization of parking lots (moving underground), which leaves the ground free for people and for public spaces. This space is used for establishing green structures that improve the environmental condition, and provide people with necessary contact with nature and room for socialization. The areas of intervention are mainly large centers with a high number of commuters.
The concept of the project is to bridge the gap between transportation (dominant railroad, cars, vast parking lots) by creating a space with human scale that brings life to the area surrounding the railway station, mark its importance as a point of entry and create a connection to the surroundings. The new space created in Babylon downtown thus integrates the existing elements, supports the local character and initiatives and adds new functions to support the commuters’ everyday life.
There are vast opportunities for revitalization of the railway station area in Babylon. It is well located in relation to main streets in the downtown (Deer Park Ave and West Main St), which proves its importance for accessibility to these streets. Another advantage is proximity of the Argyle Lake and Park, which makes place for a connection and integration into the existing green infrastructure. Due to the affluence of people, the nearby commerce, schools, services and the connection to transportation system there is a need for a plaza, also supported by the fact that this is a key entry point to downtown of Babylon. Parking is moved under the ground in order to create public space which enhances aesthetic qualities and integrates a wider scale of a green corridor that connects to the lake.
The new space is formed as an entry point that should tell a story about the suburb. The wavy shapes that define Long Island’s coastline in Babylon area are the inspiration for the new form of the site. Its wavy green structures and a water element symbolise the character of Babylon with its Argyle lake, park and the coast, and the visitor gets a notion of proximity of these natural elements as a first impression upon leaving the train. New buildings are fitted in the pattern and placed on the edges, close to existing built space, acting as a transition area between the old built structures of the downtown and the new open room. Their functions support the commuters’ everyday life, as well as the local community activities.
The plaza is situated south and north of the railroad, integrating the ground level space under the railroad. The traffic is changed, so that the space under the railroad is shared between pedestrians, cyclists, public transportation and occasionally cars. The existing roads are preserved, whereas the curb stones are removed and the pavement is changed.
The major part of the new location is green, as an extension of Argyle Park which continues all the way to the newly created square in front of the ticket office.
The new housing is low rise, while in the main downtown street (Deer Park Ave) there are proposed new housing units on top of the existing buildings, in order to shorten the distance between home and work, home and transportation, as well as to enhance the sense of the old town by building more densely.
Project name: “ENTER \ \ SHIFT” (competition project)
Designer: Gordana Marjanovic, architect (individual entry)
Project year: 2010
Competition: “Build a Better Burb”- an ideas competition to retrofit Long Island downtowns; organized by The Rauch Foundation, within The Long Island Index project
Placing of the project: finalist (in the group of 23 finalists among over 200 entries)
The task of this competition was to propose ideas for retrofitting Long Island through selecting a certain location and the appropriate scale.
The project enter\\shift is focusing on revitalisation of railway station areas as representative points of entry into the downtowns. The intervention entails principles that can as well be implemented in other selected downtowns on LI (map), whereas the design itself is intended to be site specific, reflecting the identity of each downtown. The project is situated in the downtown of Babylon.
Summary: a landscape design for a verdant infill public plaza and park that can replace parking lots (relocated underground) around heavily used train stations
Key themes: landscape improvements, infill development, strengthening the public/civic realm