WALKSCAPES FOR SECAUCUS | Nomadic Observatory for an Inclusive Design
City in Environment | Parsons the New School of Design, NY

The impression is transdisciplinar communicativity in urban practise needs a deeper understanding.

The Walkscapes for Secaucus blog, although starts a specific design proposal for a specific geographical place, is rather a research on communicability and inclusivity in urban design. The main task is trying to understand how design process itself can implement inclusive tools and media. This contingent choice that doesn’t pretend to give an exhaustive answer to this topic, neither to suggests blogging as the ultimate media for this purpose.

The trigger of this work, in first place, is to deal with a certain rhetoric embedded in urban practise. In the latter years debates and topics around urbanism are more and more engaging participativeness and inclusiveness in projects and proposals by thinkers, planners and designers. It appears quite paradoxical this doesn’t happen within the creative process as well. It has to be said, of course, this assumption yet keeps in mind of any precedent attempt in this track. But still the impression is transdisciplinar communicativity in urban practise needs a deeper understanding. This project, in this framework, wants to be a starting point for a personal (no less shared) research around this topic.

A second trigger is related to environmental debate within urban design, and the complexity of the relations among what are generally called ‘anthropic’ and ‘natural’ environments. This duality here is meant to be argued. If it exists in expressive terms, it doesn’t as an actual concept. Even if it does, the relationships occurring between the two has to be dialectic, that is to say ‘anthropic’ and ‘natural’ delineation is not completely fit to describe the complexity of an environment. This statement, still somehow not yet mature and defined, is supposed to be provocative in a positively and propositive way, rather than being a defeatist critique.

On foot establishes an unmediated experience, allowing for a more dynamic reading of landscape. A nomadic research, a mode of capturing the act of crossing without regimentation, ratification and definition of the object” [from STALKER MANIFESTO]

Crossing territories is conceived as a creative act, able to put in being a system of relationships. Walking is proposed as a form of inclusive mode of transportation. Anyone can use it without any additional element but his own feet. Walking is an urban practise in which the user takes his time to improve his awareness of the inhabited context. The trail crosses different strategic places all along the coast, and eventually it distances from it, to creep the river. In this way beside connecting places all along the the Hackensack, the walker enters directly in contact with the water element, and even just by sight is allowed to make his own statement on the dynamics ongoing. Frequent walkers would develope an accumulation of data, imagery and knowledge by every step. As well the experience is opened to any sensorial perception. Each segment of the trail offers different microclimatic conditions, according to concurring contextual elements.

The trail uses modes of construction inherited from the history. It is conceived as a pedestrian plank road. The main purposes are:

  • reusing a cultural background of former urban practise, in a way to implement historical and cultural issues in daily gestures.
  • avoiding to alienate the walker to the ground he stomps. the terrain is not fully covered, allowing to still experience the terrain the trail crosses.
  • avoiding to alienate as well the terrain from natural cycles, processes and phenomena.
  • giving the chance for open structured editable paths and participation on tracing new traces.

The trail will run within and improve the existent activities ongoing already, embodying a spine along which these activities can find spaces and even more potentialities.


While the bioswales system on the northern Secaucus brings the gathered water to the Hackensack river or to the Mill Creek Marsh, for what concerns the other areas, the system implement another landscape element, which is the water connector. This infrastructure works as a reverse bioswale, for it leads the water out from the river to the inland watershed. These connectors, are as well meant to follow former, or even abandoned, infrastructures running along the industrial area of Secaucus, and convert them to pedestrian urban spaces for leisure activities, accessibility to public transports, and further collateral walkscapes, in addition to the plank trail.


The trail gives the chance first of all for an accessibility to the waterfront of the Hackensack River. In this way it gives a new frontier and orientational element for the whole city. Secondly it’s designed to interact with tidal dynamics, which determines temporary and resilient landscapes according to the level of the water.


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