Study for Haven/Shelter, 2009, Pencil, Maria del Mar Abos


Haven/Shelter is a proposal to construct three wooden shelters on the southernmost tip of Roosevelt Island’s Southpoint Park. Seen as a whole, the shelters evoke the form of a sunken ship, as the three discrete parts feature a prow, hull, and stern, respectively. These forms would be reorientated within the landscape and joined by wave-like patterns of wooden planking, becoming abstract as they merge into the site itself. 

Carved out of the uppermost portions of the central and western shelters are two poems: Pablo Neruda’s “Me gustas cuando callas” in its original Spanish and Amanda Martin Katz’s “Reading Neruda on the First Morning” in English. At dusk in the summer season the light from the setting sun causes the poems to appear on the ground between the shelters. For this brief period, light, or rather language, functions as an architectural material.

This project is a collaboration with Maria del Mar Abos, a landscape architect based in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and was conceived during a residency at the School of Visual Arts in 2009. Maria and I have merged our respective strengths to develop a structure that hovers between the functional and the aesthetic. At once architecture, sculpture, and poetry, Haven/Shelter explores the perception of light through its shifting legibility. These shelters are intended to facilitate a moment of stillness, of tenderness – between friends or lovers, river and one’s self. While New York City is famous for its skyline, it is important for both residents and visitors to remember that New York is composed of a series of islands and coastlines. When sitting within Haven/Shelter, surrounded on three sides by water, one is able to feel as if she is a part of the river itself, as it winds its way north into New York State.