The CSS received a Special Mention in the “Constructed Ecology” category for its submission “Constructing Dynamism: A Tale of Two Basins” to the 2015 d3 Natural Systems competition. The competition entry was created by a team of interns and CSS research fellows as a part of the 2015 CSS Summer Internship.
Constructing Dynamism: A Tale of Two Basins
The CSS team created a future design for coastal Louisiana, which is currently experiencing widespread wetland loss due to rising sea levels and a lack of riverine sediment supply (which are now shunted offshore resulting from the construction of river levees). The team tackled the issue of redesigning Louisiana’s disappearing coast, based on two important premises they set forth: 1) ecosystem design should be done at the scale of hydrologic basins, and 2) riverine resources that have the potential to build new land (via river diversions) are limited. This led to a design whereby one basin – Barataria – becomes increasingly fresh with wetlands fed by alluvial sediments from the Mississippi River, and the second basin – Terrebonne – becomes increasingly saline and migrates inland. Divergent engineering and design strategies were explored in the two basins to support human infrastructure, ecological systems, and systems restoration.
Infrastructures become ecological participants through networked hydrologic basin management. Inclusive of needs required for the productivity of adjacent social, economic, and ecological systems, Constructing Dynamism retrofits the existing HWY 90/future I-49 corridor as a multipurpose, cross-delta artery. Optimizing the distribution of limited coastal resources such as freshwater, sediment, and financial capital, this project assumes that basins will increasingly vary in salinity, encompassing fresh, brackish, and saline conditions. For the purposes of potential future scenario visualization, this project engages increasing freshwater and sediment within the Barataria Basin as well as an increasingly saline ecology throughout Terrebonne Basin. Producing a more flexible, diverse, and adaptive coastal region, design interventions are required to become participatory actuators within these hydrological conditions.
Currently spanning much of the hydrologic system and a part of the Southeast Louisiana infrastructural network, HWY 90 is retrofitted and redesigned in order to act as a transportation connector between basins, as well as a facilitator of economic and ecological vitality. Within a condition of increasing salinity, the foundation of the structure engages with increased tidal flux and rising sea levels. In the adjacent and increasingly freshwater environment, the structural intervals facilitate flows and eddies in order to encourage sediment deposition. Multipurpose above ground and water planes, the rail and road connectors transport commuter populations to industry and settlement nodes while facilitating the transfer of resources above vulnerable territories. Specifically engaged relative to a transforming salinity gradient, the design interventions participate at multiple scales and are enabled by planning and operation strategies that incorporate watershed resources and distribution.
CSS d3 Competition Team:
CSS Research Fellows CSS Summer Interns
Elizabeth Williams Jessie Booth
Leanna Heffner Matthew Ketterer
Keith Maung-Douglass Edward Nichol
Traci Birch Ana Orosco
CSS Designs for “Constructing Dynamism: A Tale of Two Basins”:
D3 Natural Systems Annual Competition
Established in 2009, the annual d3 Natural Systems competition is an emerging voice in alternative architecture and one of the most notable awards in speculative, performance-based design. It recognizes exemplary ideas that redefine architecture as an ecological project through the implementation of advanced technologies, materials, and social interventions that engage adaptability, globalization, and emergence. The d3 Natural Systems competition is an emerging voice in ecological architecture and one of the most notable awards in speculative, performance-based design.