Under present global circumstances and as we continue our fight of Covid-19, it is more present now than ever how important it is to have contact with nature. No matter how cozy our homes are, there will be a subconscious need to step outside for a few minutes to enjoy some open space. As the weather in New York City is turning warmer and thousands of its inhabitants started taking the streets and parks for some leisure, city officials had to take measures to apply social distancing and avoid further propagation of the virus. Domino Park’s staff decided with limited resources to take a chance of easing the enforcement of social distancing rules for visitors with the help of geometry.
On May 15th using white chalk bought at a local paint store, with 2 people working, and 4 hours of labor they designed a grid made up of 30 circles, each 8 feet in diameter and 6 feet apart, on the Astroturf Flex Field. Each circle is to be occupied by a single person or small group; thus ensuring that distance is kept among visitors.
Other measures such as a social media campaign, police and park ambassadors reminding visitors to keep distance, and signs, have also collaborated in making this a successful effort of safe park visitation practices.
Domino Park is a 5-acre public park located along the East River in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. It was opened to the public in 2018 and is built on the site of the former Domino Sugar Refinery. Privately funded by Brooklyn based developer Two Trees Management and designed by landscape architecture firm James Corner Field Operations, it has allowed local residents to have contact with the East River waterfront for the first time in over a century.
While public spaces area around the world is looking for innovative solutions to implement safety measures during the pandemic, the ingenuine idea done at the Domino Park makes designers revisit the concept of human geometry taught in the Classics. This opens the possibility of dissecting what is old and innovatively applying it to Urban Design, Planning, Architecture, and Interiors, which primarily can be cost-effective.
In the past few months, simple shapes such as circles, crosses, and lines have appeared in shops, offices, restaurants, and other business establishments as part of experimental measures to encourage social distancing. Tapes and stickers became an accessible means for design cues and effectively helped the implementation of safety measures. This is an opportunity to be inspired by the simple means people use to address issues during the pandemic. Innovation does not necessarily mean putting glass pods on dining areas or introducing several partitions in a space, it is worth remembering that the simpler a solution is, the more accessible and effective it can be.
Rafa Pérez-Peguero is an architect and designer based in the Caribbean. He is an architecture graduate of the Iberoamerican University of Santo Domingo, as well as a master graduate on Furniture Design of the University of Buenos Aires. He combines his constant curiosity for design, art and everything related to lifestyle with an interest on creative processes and human connections.
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