Nov 6, 201204:10 PMPoint of View
Hurricane Sandy Foretold
An image from the MoMA Rising Currents exhibition, Courtesy of Scape Landscape Architecture LaBarre rightly calls out how the Rising Currents exhibition took sustainable and creative approaches to dealing with cataclysmic storms like Sandy. The ideas in the exhibition illustrated concepts that would help create resilient communities; communities that are not only physically safe from the water’s wrath, but stronger socially, economically, and environmentally One example from Rising Currents, the illustration above, depicts an oyster-based ecosystem that creates benefits beyond just protecting our communities. Neil Chambers, founding architect of Chambers Design, has written a blog series called Re-imagining Infrastructure, which looks at the growing practice of oyster-tecture, a term coined, if not popularized, by the Rising Currents exhibition.“The practice of oyster-tecture uses oysters to help improve water quality, protect shorelines, eliminate erosion, re-generate fish stocks, and shield local coastal economies from collapse. Oyster-tecture, if done correctly, costs less to build and to maintain than standard storm water management techniques. Oysters have indirect benefits that include carbon sequestration, habitat restoration, and increased tourism. ” –Neil Chambers These forms of ecologically-based infrastructure are, or soft infrastructure, are important concepts for cities looking to become more sustainable. Socializing Sustainability, a blog post by Amrita Raja, talks about the importance of open space for people living in urban environments. She discusses the Rising Currents exhibition as having “provoked questions of how parks operate in our urban landscape, asking why the “park in the city” cannot become the “city of the park”. She refers to the idea that ecosystem features can be integrated into the urban fabric. This idea of a city becoming like a park is not new, but the idea of our waterfront parks functioning as “soft” barriers is. Brooklyn Bridge Park is a great example of an ecologically-based barrier that creates space for people while providing multiple benefits. Designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, the park was flooded during Hurricane Sandy, and while a great deal of construction equipment and damage was done, it wasn’t nearly as devastating as the flooding in residential and commercial areas like Red Hook or Gowanus. Replacing residential and commercial land uses with spaces safe to be flooded is a technique called managed retreat. resiliency research, and has experience working with New York City’s coastal communities.