Today the Gowanus canal forms a border between Red Hook, Carroll Gardens, Park Slope, and Beacon Hill. In 2011 the advocacy group Gowanus by Design conducted an ideas competition for envisioning the canal as a potential amenity for this new landscape.

Our proposal imagined stitching the banks of the waterway together promising to activate pedestrian usage where currently movement is limited to existing bridges and their intersecting streets.

Invigorated pedestrian activity could surmount the disconnection between neighborhoods. Such mending would also likely hatch completely new experiences of urban energy, as spaces along the Gowanus Canal allow pedestrians to interact with the environment and one another.

The current pedestrian experience of the Gowanus is streets ending abruptly into viewless dead ends and dark corners with no sense of the canal beyond. Our solution very practically addresses connectivity and circulation over the Gowanus by literally stitching the banks of the canal together through pedestrian bridges.

Currently, very little exists along the waterway to entice a pedestrian experience. The existing canal divides communities. The bridges arching over the canal will increase pedestrian access and create a vibrant center for interaction by allowing neighbors in Carol Gardens and Park Slope to share amenities.

Circulation and activity are restricted to the streets running parallel to the waterway which have been confined to small scale industrial and construction businesses. New experiences of connection will occur when the banks of the canal are linked at the human scale with the intention of activating pedestrian usage and circulation as well as activating the dormant waterway. Ultimately, the stitch reconnects the canal with its surroundings and reinvigorates the neighborhood.

By developing a network of bridges along the Gowanus Canal in both directions, accessing the edge of the canal is possible. Boardwalks at the water’s edge will allow pedestrians to activate the pleasures of the waterway.

Sharon Davis, Sharon Davis Design

Image courtesy of: Sharon Davis Design