Sunday, November 23, 2008


water, water everywhere.

The world’s sea level is rising. This is an undeniable fact. Sea level has been rising at a rate of 1.8mm per year for the past century, and has increased to a rate of 3.1mm/year from 1993-2000. Global warming is not a threat in the distant future, but rather threatens the present with its continuous gradual increase in water. Its damage has already begun. In fact, the populated island of Lochara was swallowed by the rising sea level in 2007. This is only the first in an ever-increasing trend.

Moreover, the threat does not limit itself to the distant islands off the coast of Papa New Guinea, but rather threatens every place of habitation in close proximity to a body of water. Given that water takes up two-thirds of the Earth’s surface, and most urban areas were settled on water for ease of trade and transit, the threat becomes gargantuan in scale. It does not limit itself to Amsterdam, Venice, and New Orleans, but the majority of cities everywhere.

This begs to question an alternate mode of living. Engineering technologies will always pose methods of keeping water out. Their scale and vigor can increase to combat some of the most grueling flooding conditions. However, what happens if the problem is simply restated? If instead of keeping water out of habitation, people can inhabit water. This thesis poses an urban condition on the water. In this thesis, water plays the paradoxical role of both the enemy and the only hope for survival. In its manifestation, the design poses a functional way of living on water, but hopes to also emphasize the beauty and playful nature of water. Water in all its ferocity still remains sublime. As the most threatening substance, it is simultaneously of utmost beauty.

In order to begin to propose a new method of living on water I have been studying precedents and their relationship to water. I have been looking at the following projects:
-Seuthopolis, Bulgaria
-New Orleans
-ARO’s New York
-Guy Nordenson project
-Human habitation always occurs in the most unstable places.
-Humans have a history of living where they should not, and a history of facing natural disasters.
-Many cities already are water cities: Venice, Amsterdam, Bangkok. However, none of them are dealing with the conditions of water in innovative ways. Traditional building typologies are applied in brutal climates.
-If one looks to the past—many innovative ways of looking at the merging of water and architecture.
Examples: Islamic cities-Fes
Mughal temples-Alhambra
Indian cities-Agra
Roman aqueducts
Bath houses
Mills of Crete
-in the past was a celebration of architecture and water
-modernism forged water into its utilitarian role and it became increasingly privatized and hidden in pipes
-revival of celebration of water begins to be seen in the 80s
-see blog for more info:

design proposition
For my thesis I propose a new way of living on water. The entire city must be rethought. Water should be considered at a multiplicity of scales, from the larger network to the scale of the person. In its threatening nature, I hope to also realize its playfulness. For my thesis I propose designing a city for the flooded condition of water that performs both functionally as a mode of survival, and expressively as a celebration of water.

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