- Students: Rachel Aronbayev, Advia Bhat, Hoi Ting Chan, Clarity Chen, Krishna Chhatbar, Lindsay Diburro, Fatema Dula, Anas Ghojaria, Nicole Giella, Andrew Hertz, Sabrina Innamorato, Huiyi Ma, Nico Mendoza, Nicholas Reid, Andres Sandoval, Bharat Satish
- City: New York
- Country: United States
Text description provided by the architects. With students from the New York Institute of Technology Graduate School of Architecture, we constructed a kinetic shade structure, or Bohio, for the El Cataño Community Garden in East Harlem, New York City.
East Harlem, also known as El Barrio, has one of the largest Latinx populations in New York City. The El Cataño garden acts as a hub for the local Puerto Rican community, hosting events as diverse as domino tournaments, exercise classes, and storytime for pre-schoolers.
Students worked with garden members to design a structure that could adapt to these various requirements while responding to the seasonal fluctuations on the south-facing lot. Using compressed gas springs and mechanical winches, the roof opens or closes depending on the desire for shade or shelter from rain.
The design was inspired by the Bohio, the traditional timber and thatch shade structure of the Taino, the indigenous people of Puerto Rico. A cedar and stainless steel structure holds a lightweight recycled aluminum roof that is a graphic translation of the Puerto Rican flag; a symbol of identity that was outlawed by the United States from 1898 until 1952.
The flag was designed by the Puerto Rican Revolutionary Committee in New York City in the 1890’s and has since become an enduring emblem of national pride which is frequently seen throughout East Harlem.