Ground Level Design in Belize and Brooklyn

Ground level design should be thoughtful – it sets the tone of our collective experience as we move through the streets, especially when walking.  It can provide an invitation or a barrier.

An opening towards the streets becomes clear with the use of transparent materials such as glass, or a hurdle can be created when the view is meet with something opaque like metal.  Off course when the climate is tropical like in Belize, there is no need for a glass enclosure.

From retail to restaurants and residential spaces, what our eyes see and our senses detect should be considered in ground level design as we think about the future of our cities and its city-zens.

Photography Credit: Aminah Ricks

Home sweet home

This “highrise” in Belize is designed to protect this home from flooding in the rainy season. Additionally, it has a cistern to capture rain water and solar panels. This sustainable home takes advantage of it’s warm climate.

highrise bk

Density rules in popular Brooklyn neighborhoods. The increase in residents dictates the creation of highrise living. As developers race to create more housing, city planning has to play catch up to facilitate additional public services and infrastructure.

lowrise belize

Off the grid in Belize but outfitted with everything one needs from a kitchen, laundry facilities and even a bike for running errands.

lowrise bk

The beloved brownstones in Brooklyn are revered worldwide, their simple charm and historic relevance make them a sought after purchase or rental.

 

Photography Credit:  Aminah Ricks

Ground-up Transportation
In Belize hitch hiking is mainstream and a very accepted carpooling system of sharing transportation in a country where most do not own cars

In Belize hitch hiking is mainstream and a very accepted carpooling system of sharing transportation in a country where most do not own cars

 

 

Cycling, good for the health of our cities and ourselves

In Brooklyn cycling is an easy and agile way to get around, good for the health of our cities and ourselves

Refurbished school buses serve as public transportation in Belize

Refurbished school buses serve as public transportation in Belize

Subways are the fastest and most efficient way to move thousands, daily through our cities

Subways are the fastest and most efficient way to move thousands, daily through Brooklyn and NYC

 

Photography Credit:  Aminah Ricks

A Look at Shared Spaces – Brooklyn & Belize

Brooklyn and Belize have more in common than one might think.  In these varied urban environments, the need to congregate, eat local food and find new uses for existing public structures are universal commonalities.

(1) a parking lot, in a country where many don’t have cars and must hitch-hike, wisely becomes the home for a farmer’s market

(2) a forgotten high-rise roof becomes a community garden

(3) a fireman’s pier becomes a pizza for the people

(4) an abandoned wall becomes an open art gallery

Photo Credit: Aminah Ricks

A series of photography and viewpoints, with a lens on Brooklyn and Belize focused on the following urban trends:

construction methods
shared community spaces
public transportation
housing
ground level design

This week, construction methods.

How we build is as important as what we build. Be it the first or developing world, our choices have an impact. With a focus on function, as well as building materials and methods, we can make sustainability a priority.

Photo Credit: Aminah Ricks

Imagine this street, without cars…

How would our neighborhoods change if a majority of the streetscape were not used primarily as storage for cars?

Imagine…

Children playing a game of pick-up soccer

Older people strolling by and sitting on stoops

Couples passing on bikes

Toddlers free to walk and fall without worry

Benches full of teenagers gossiping and giggling

Someone reading a book or a magazine

If we want our streets to be ALIVE we have to put people first and reconsider that instead of being co-opted as parking lots for rarely used cars, they could be thriving centers of city life.

Aminah Ricks

What makes a street attractive?

What makes a street attractive? What provides the invitation to stroll or linger?  

Is it the placement of trees that line the street, the storefronts which have glass facades revealing what lies inside or the urban furniture that creates an outdoor living room.  Low rise buildings vs high rises, create density while not overwhelming pedestrians with their heights, opening a view of blue sky.  

A great street is all this and more, and even if we can’t exactly describe the magic combination, we know it when we walk it.

Photography Credit: Aminah Ricks

Art Ignites City Life

Art Ignites City Life

Underneath the bridges of Brooklyn, artwork mingles with neighborhood residents and visitors. Outdoor installations, short films, paintings, sculpture, performance art and poetry readings are all on display every first Thursday of the month.  This is when DUMBO becomes an open playground of city life, culture and creativity.

Galleries and event spaces open their doors, feeding the curiosity of city residents to that which has been previously labored and prepared behind closed doors. This exchange between art and the city is fundamental for bringing people together. It is a free event that brings many diverse groups together.

The energy from the sidewalks, as folks drift in and spill out of buildings, ignites the area in a way not seen on other days of the month.

Using the urban landscape as a backdrop and the excuse to bring people together is the very point of city life.

Cover Photo Credit: Molly Woodward

Photographer & Graphic Artist Molly Woodward

Painter Laura Shechter, represented by Porter Contemporary

Artist Marguerite Day

*DUMBO is a neighborhood in Brooklyn and the acronym stands for Down Underneath the Manhattan Bridge Overpass

DUMBO’s First Thursday Events

  • The Soho Effect
  • Artist: @99piorg

From Soho (South of Houston in NYC) to NOBE (North Oakland Berkeley Emeryville), neighborhoods are being re-branded.  Mostly this trend is initiated by real estate agents, why is this happening and what is the effect?

Listen to this great podcast from @99piorg to discover the story behind the story.

Cover Photography: Aminah Ricks

Elevating City Life