Robert Kown

Robert Kown

Nashville, TN, US


Inhabiting the Periphery: A Dialogue Between Individual and Site_Self Directed Thesis

What is a periphery? We can think about this word in more than one way. Peripheries are places that exist as spatial conditions in cities. They indicate edges and places that have been left behind. In this thesis I will  use the word in another way as well. What does the periphery mean for us today? What are those parts of our lives that have been marginalized, and how can we begin to reclaim what has been lost? It is the aim of this thesis to address these issues of the individual in a site that exists on the edge of Manhattan, a place physically separated from the city by means of a highway, and in so doing, redeem both a physical space as well as a place within ourselves.

An important part of our 21st century lives centers around our ability to be in constant communication. Recent advancements in communication technology are fast shaping the way in which we live, and, as a result, we have constructed a world in which productivity and communication are no longer limited by our physical location. One problem created by this is that of a population connected to the world, yet easily disconnected from their physical place. When do we turn off? And, more importantly, what are we missing by being so endlessly connected?

In response to this situation, I feel that we as a society need moments of repose to restore balance in our lives. It is during these breaks in our day that we are better able to synthesize information, form memory and maintain balance between engagement and rest. By connecting our minds with our bodies, moments of repose serve as physical and mental experiences that ground us in place.

Place is found in the periphery.

My site for this thesis is situated in a waterfront park at the edge of Manhattan. Here, hemmed off from the city by the infrastructural scar of FDR Drive, the East River Park quietly stands as a counterweight to the many movements which define New York City. It is a place to be still amidst the flows of the city. It is a place to engage the mind and body in a tactile connection. It is therefore the aim of this thesis to connect New Yorkers with this rare and largely unnoticed park space at the edge of the city. And by inhabiting this spatial periphery, discover those parts of ourselves which have also been pushed to the margin.

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Status: School Project
Location: New York City, NY