Green Good Design Awards Tell a friend
New York, New York, USA
Architects: BKSK Architects LLP.
Landscape Architects: Starr Whitehouse Landscape Architects and Planners PLLC.
Clients: The Battery Conservancy and the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation
Photographers: Sadar Coston-Hardy/Esto
The Battery Playscape is located at the tip of Manhattan where land meets sea, locals meet tourists, and the bustle of the city yields to the presence of nature. Ecologically, the site is a dynamic confluence of water and land, including a partly natural-partly constructed coastline. Conceived after Hurricane Sandy, the 1.5-acre Playscape responds to the site’s past and future flooding by telling the story of resilience, interwoven with play. It is the last piece of the Battery Conservancy’s masterplan which envisioned a verdant future for the then-dilapidated park. The Playscape realizes that vision through accessible, full body play immersed in planting, natural landforms, and visible water management.
Opened in 2021, it is built to flood and recover, part of the embedded climate change narrative. The project was a collaboration between architects, landscape designers, and specialty fabricators, as well as a public-private partnership between the Battery Conservancy and the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation. On the premise that early appreciation for ecological diversity fosters environmental stewardship in adulthood, the Playscape’s five zones are each designed around a landscape typology from the Hudson River Valley. The zones represent ways land and water meet in nature – Bluff, Meadow, Riverbed, Marsh, and Dune.
Each typology encourages site-specific experiences and plays – standing atop the Bluff to view the harbor, looking at the city from houses in the tree canopy, peeking out of grasses in the Meadow, or running up and down the Dune. Custom play structures encourage interactivity through tall stone slides, multi-level playhouses, and performance space at the Showbox Theater. The Battery Playscape is a revitalized urban landscape serving as a respite from urban chaos, supporting open-ended play and using the local ecology to teach about resiliency. It is an example of the built environment working with nature.