Botanica Gowanus


Garden No. 1, Botanica Gowanus


Gowanus, Brooklyn, New York


Gowanus Canal Conservancy





The proposed Nursery and Utility Shed is located on a salt storage lot currently owned by the DOT, and will provide a plant nursery, compost bays, a workshop, storage shed and office space. As use of the site is not permanent, all materials are intended to be disassembled if required and erected again at another location on the canal. Directly adjacent to a number of concrete plants, the project is primarily constructed of yard blocks – cast from the excess and rejected and waste mix, which are easily attainable with minimal cost.

Our involvement with the project initially began with the installation of 30+ yellow birdhouses along the canal edge as a means to visually reconnect the divided neighborhood. Starting with similar small “guerilla” community improvements, the GCC has grown exponentially and is ready for a larger base.

The Gowanus Canal has been at the center of fierce political and environmental debates almost since the day of its completion, and with it’s newly declared superfund status, these debates are certain to intensify.

Purchased for around $75 per unit, the yard blocks are stacked to form a wall, defining the edge between the industrial site and the tree nursery and creating a respite along the edge of the canal. Laid horizontally the blocks form a topography which can be shaped to form storage bays and tree pits as required by the program. A series of recycled steel posts defines the zone of the nursery while also serving as points from which to water the plants and hang shade screens.