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Reoccupation

This project positions itself to tackle the New York City vacancy crisis through the virtual occupation of Jackson Heights, Queens. Beginning with an extensive research of character on-site, a sensorial language was developed in conjunction with a digital model of the region surrounding the 82nd Street stop of the MTA 7 train. From this, a collaborative virtual street is proposed, where community members can engage in-situ using Augmented Reality (AR) and global users can interface remotely using Virtual Reality (VR). This is intended to create a site specificity which celebrates the local community with a networked globe. Users will be able to contribute freely to create a guerilla occupation of the street catered to their passions and desires. The intention is to create new opportunities for community building, interpersonal connectivity, and play. To more directly address the vacancy problems in Jackson Heights, this platform has been developed as a way for the community to reclaim vacancies currently shuttered to the public. Through foundational support, ground-level vacancies will be leased to the community. Then, through a public vote competition which uses earnable tokens to reward those most engaged with the local community, grassroots ‘sketches’ of ideas within the virtual platform will be chosen for implementation on-site. Realized proposals will thus be community-centered, and could vary based on the needs and desires of the neighborhood. This is intended to democratize space in the aggressive real-estate market, elevate a disinvested region, give agency to the community, and create an optimism for productive change within the city.