The Water Works Parkitecture competition called for proposals that could bring community and landscape together in order to generate discussion about watershed issues. By braiding the ecological functions of the park + river and the social functions of recreation, the winning plan by Sasaki, RDG and AES: “shaped two distinct yet complementary sections of Water Works Park: the wild and the engineered.”
This upcoming February 21–23, 2012 the Seventh International Conference on Water Sensitive Urban Design will be held in Melbourne, Australia. Dealing with integrated urban water management concepts and water sensitive urban design measures, the conference will cover themes such as: Drainage and Flood Mitigation, Climate Responsive Design, Urban Water Economics, Social Capital, Urban Landscape Architecture, Urban Ecosystems, among others. The focal point of the conference: “Understanding the nexus between sustainable urban water management and the vitality, livability and prosperity of urban communities is one of the most significant challenges of the 21st Century.” Registration for WSUD 2012 is now open.
In the evolving discussion between water management practices there are always two poles: the conventional engineering solutions and the emerging landscape infrastructure solutions. The conventional practices of stormwater conveyance are typically termed “end of pipe solutions” because they emphasize the need to transport large volumes of water away from flood prone areas as quickly as possible. This approach is nothing less than an afterthought of the development model that is in place. Managing water in this way perpetuates and exacerbate the existing issues that urban areas face. The question to pose here is: should we promote end of pipe solutions in places where ecological alternatives can be successfully implemented?
Porchscapes, in Fayetteville, Ark, is Habitat for Humanity residential LEED-Neighborhood Development pilot project that exhibits Low Impact Development (LID) standards under the Section 319 Program for Nonpoint Source Pollution of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Designed by the University of Arkansas Community Design Center (UACDC), this proposal uses an ecological stormwater management approach to achieve primary goal: to manage all the rainwater via LID treatment train to retain and reuse all water that falls on the site.
The project titled Green Blocks – North Parks| by Erik Lomeland, provides an interesting and innovative solution to water reuse in the context of the urban block typology. Their idea (visible in the schematic water system diagram) addresses how water enters the building, is stored as greywater within the individual units and then distributed to the various green spaces. The team’s description: “Water Reuse – To protect our most precious resource, the water system makes use of grey water from sinks & showers for use toward toilets and gardens, adding redundancy to the water supply and draining less from municipal & natural resources.” This project was showcased in ResilientCity.org, a not-for-profit portal that focuses on developing the capacities for resilience in our cities to adapt and evolve.
Recently NPR featured a story about the growing frictions between development and integrated river basin management. Using the Ohio River as a point of departure, the program hosted Michael Moore, the director of transportation and engineer, Cincinnati. During the program he mentioned that “…the river sort of a very dynamic thing… so we have the sort of conundrum about how do we make projects work in and around the river”. He also pointed out that “…you can use a lot of open space and recreational space there because it can be flooded and cleaned up… but when you want to have people live close by it…you have to make certain decisions.”
The Gowanus Lowline “Connections” Competition dealt primarily with the topic of urban development in postindustrial lands and whether designers could establish potential overlaps between the needs of the Gowanus Canal Community and the needs of site regeneration and watershed based planning design parameters. Since the Gowanus Canal is categorized by the EPA as a Superfund site, designers needed to be innovative about how to intertwine cleansing processes with the provision of quality urbanscape. Two entries were considerably successful in this regard: the honorable entry “Domestic Laundry” proposal by AGER Group, and the First Prize winning entry titled “Gowanus Flowlands”.