Lean On Us

Finalist, Van Alen Institute’s Public Realm R&D program
Downtown Brooklyn

An interactive, public installation for the plaza at 300 Ashland to create a soothing and multi-sensory experiences to support a range of individuals, uses, and activities, as a space for social healing.

As New Yorkers, we depend on public spaces as extensions of our living spaces — essential for socializing, being alone, and building communities. For people with sensory sensitivities, it is also important to provide a choice between a range of environments. After the social isolation and trauma felt by so many during the pandemic, New Yorkers need opportunities to gain comfort, healing, and connection with their neighbors.

Lean on Us by WIP Collaborative will insert interactive elements onto the plaza at 300 Ashland that will offer soothing and multi-sensory experiences to facilitate a meaningful togetherness in the community. Incorporating therapeutic movement techniques1, the project will introduce illuminated structures of support for rocking, leaning, and gazing. As a programmatic layer to the installation, Lean On Us will engage the local network of storytelling and literary organizations to enhance the installation’s healing sensory experiences with a communal practice rooted in tradition, as a way to work through collective experience and trauma.

Building on previous research and design work on supporting neurodiversity in public spaces, WIP proposes Lean On Us, which would transform the plaza into a soothing and interactive space that is more supportive of a range of individuals, uses, and activities. The installation will comprise of three large-scale elements inserted into the site that support body positions and movements2 often used therapeutically as endorphin releases to improve mood and release stress: Rock, Lean, and Gaze.

In the wake of the pandemic where stress and anxiety are heightened, particularly around public spaces, Lean On Us will create a structure of support and sensorial landscape through a layering of lighting, materiality, textures, and thoughtful programming at a time when it is needed the most.

WIP Collaborative Team:
Sera Ghadaki
Sonya Gimon
Abby Coover
Elsa Ponce
Lindsay Harkema
Bryony Roberts
Ryan Brooke Thomas

© WIP Architecture DPC