Waterworld V. The World Is Your Oyster: Rising Currents at MoMA

The Rising Currents Project on exhibit at MoMA in NYC offers some very interesting solutions about incorporating the natural world into the city structure. 

Mimi Hoang and Eric Bunge take on the area with the boundaries of the south mouth of Palisades Bay, the Verrazano, Bay Ridge, Sunset Park, and eastern Staten Island.  They envision a New Aqueous City, a series of islands made of concrete that would collect sediment and become more natural along with inflatable barriers that would deploy during storms.  Current barges would become floating libraries and markets.  The resident dwellings would be built from the roof down with the supporting beams doubling as anaerobic waste digesters for dry waste.  Wet waste would funnel into floating wetlands.  To travel around, long public piers, which also deflect waves and collect sediment, would act as ferry stops.  A tram with seven, not five, boroughs would travel in a loop to connect it all together.

While the Aqueous vision is quite inventive, it reeks of Waterworld and 2012‘s large barges.  In fact, it all goes back to Noah and his ark, only here, it’s more than two by two the animals came.  It’s thousands and thousands of people living on the water.  Okay, so that’s not so much Noah’s Ark territory, but really, people living on water is a far stretch.  While the deployment of barriers to protect from storms is a solid idea that apparently works in other parts of the world and would, therefore, probably work for this kind of neighborhood, I don’t see what kind of protection that offers against Nor’easters or hurricanes, the two biggest natural threats.  While neither has ripped up and tossed away the islands currently in existence like Long Island, Manhattan, or Staten Island, they have been around for, you know, a rather longish time and were not human-made.   Betsy McCully demonstrates the devastating effects of the Nor’easter she witnessed that flooded the Belt and her surrounding areas, and that devastation doesn’t seem like something that a water world could withstand.

Kate Orff’s team studied Red Hook, Gowanus canal, and Governor’s Island’s area.  They went with a more natural solution of Oyster-tecture.  They copied the small-scale technique used by oyster farmers and set out to create a large scale system that mimics the oyster’s ability to biofiltrate, protect from storm surges, adapt to rising sea levels, and reef growth.  The team envisions the Gowanus as an oyster, creating a reef in the Bay Ridge flats using marine piles and woven mesh of fuzzy rope that would create a secondary floor to which the oysters could attach above the harbor floor and not be swept away by currents.  The entire Gowanus would act like an oyster.

This idea?  Is not that shabby.  While the first idea is avant-garde futuristic, this one is a throwback to New York’s boom time as the Oyster Capital Of The World.  It’s natural, scientific, environmentally sound, and realistic. 

Team Leader Interviews Zones 3 and 4 from http://moma.org/explore/multimedia/videos/98/578/videos-all

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About Christina M. Rau

Poet, blogger, writer, editor, professor
This entry was posted in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn Industrial Waterfront, Gowanus, Red Hook, Sunset Park, Verrazano and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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