SVA MA Design Research

SVA MA Design Research, Writing & Criticism1 is a one-year graduate program2
devoted to the study of design, its contexts & consequences.
Our graduates have gone on to pursue research-related careers in publishing, education, museums, institutes, design practice, entrepreneurship, & more.3

  1. Formerly known as D-Crit
  2. About the program
  3. Applications accepted on a rolling basis. All successful candidates awarded a significant scholarship!
SVA MA Design Research

136 W 21st St, 2nd Floor

New York, NY 10011


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(212) 592-2228

Urban Aquatic Living – SVA MA Design Research

Komal Kehar

Urban Aquatic Living

Why aren’t more New Yorkers considering aquatic dwellings? Behind the FreshDirect facilities in Greenpoint, on Newtown Creek, there is a small community of sailors who have docked their boats. This is their home, on water, just far enough from the cacophony of the city but still in close proximity to the city so that it does not feel too remote or disconnected. They have found a novel way to circumvent New York’s prohibitively expensive real estate market and create a relatively pioneering urban living condition in New York.


Boat living has many benefits. Constant access and connection to the water and the sky has a calming overall effect. It increases a sense of wellbeing. By virtue of the compact size, it forces an economy of material possessions. You can only have so many things on a boat.  Consequently, the things which are there are functional and meaningful. The rituals of daily life, which can become automated in a typical New York City boxy apartment, are elevated and considered as the boat can mostly host one activity at a time. There is a sense of peace that is a great antidote to the hectic pace of urban life.


New York flourished because its prominent position as a port for trade and commerce. Over the decades, the city developed to mostly turn its back on its aquatic side and the waterfront was left under-utilized and neglected. Given that the city will face a need for increased affordable housing in the coming decade, it will be logical to further explore the viability for aquatic living on a larger scale. The case should be made to develop affordable and environmentally conscious aquatic neighborhoods. The time is now to find innovative ways to live with in harmony with our waterways.  While boat living may seem as a peripheral option today, it could easily become the typology of the future.