Resilient Water Infrastructure

In New York City, after Hurricane Sandy ravaged the shore, people are searching for answers to their still impacted lives. Homes, infrastructures and ecologies were destroyed in the course of this remarkable storm. The pressing issue of storm water retention in coastal areas is part of our case study about Governors Island and Red Hook, Brooklyn NY and feeds into a larger research area of sea level rise affecting coastal areas and cities. The context of the site for the case study on flooding is both the low-income neighborhood Red Hook in Brooklyn, NY, and a former military site, Governor’s island. We propose an investigation of adaptive reuse of former military vessels to create a riparian buffer zone that deals with issues of water and storm management in New York Harbor.

The Gov-Hook project addresses the emerging discipline of global urbaneering by assembling a wide range of innovators from fields as diverse as material science, urban design, biology, civil engineering and architecture. The project is divided into opposing urbanisms; ecological preservation and geo-engineering.  One focuses on design through massive public works and infrastructural support while the other looks at the effects of technological interventions that can have profound impacts on the planet as a whole.

Restoration and reclamation of low-tech/low-impact watercourse changing techniques like gabion walls are well suited as accumulation techniques to recreate riverbanks in order to prolong, slow down and narrow the river’s streams fostering literal sedimentation. The conditions of the estuary allow combining these techniques with tidal sedimentation techniques that work well in more shallow waters.

The goal is to combine the natural sedimentation techniques with the recycling of retired U.S. Naval ships from the National Defense Reserve Fleet [NDRF] and United States Navy reserve fleets to restore the natural water edge, to reinstate a diversified current profile, to slow down the watercourse and decrease the riverbed depth from its current 40 foot depth, to 3-6 feet in depth.

This water infrastructure consists of estuarine canal outlets to the East River tidal strait and water filtration sponges enabling hydrology of wetlands for plant and organism growth. The energy production farms represent a system of algae farms, aquaponic agriculture pools and aerating buoys. The water infrastructure is brought on the foreground to become an urban template for new means, methods and eventually new form.

The adapted ship hulls can be used as material to provide structure and stability, reconfiguring the channel’s watercourse to an artificial sinuous course with specific and diverse shaping of the riverbanks and the riverbed and extending the course of the channel, thereby slowing the velocity of the current.

They will be (partly) filled with dredged materials in the upper New York bay to eventually ease water depth as land reclamation systems to enforce natural sedimentation. The recreated meandering stream course will establish a salt marsh ecosystem once common to this area. The newly created water edge as well as the structure provided by the sunken ship parts can serve as a habitat for a myriad of native species.

Leave a Reply