The Gowanus site suffers when we treat its three crises—those of public and enviromental health and housing—as discrete. The canal itself is a vestigial economic infrastructure suppresing a hisotric marsh. On a dry day waste is treated at the head of the canal and flushed in. On a wet day rain overwhelms the sewers capacity and triggers combined sewer overflow along the length of the canal.
Here I propose the city is limited by a ‘tank mentality;’ perpetually responding to the proverbial kitchen leak with tupperwares and mixing bowls but not a single cloth or towel. The tanks can only respond in binary with a fixed capacity. Once their capacity is meet they have little to offer. Here seepage could be harnassed as a productive capacity.
This project proposes the unpaving of terminal roads in the Gowanus towards the provision of a sponge territory. The intention is multiply onsite retention capacity along the Gowanus and to begin to recapture the absorpative and filtering capacity of the historic marsh.
In conjunction with the sponge tissue, a housing block is inserted at every street that terminates into the Gowanus Canal.
Biscayne Bay, Miami, FL
The investigation delved into the maintenance of Biscayne Bay: the dredging, artificial reefs, ground water protections. Taking a 4000 ft section under the bay reveals a series of porous limestone formations holding alternating pockets of salt and fresh water kept separate by clay deposits and the sponge-like property of the arrangemeant. (the meeting of two saturated sponges does not yield mixing). However this still geology is vulnerable to seepage making the disposal of waste and sewage difficult in South Florida. This has resulted in the recent construction of deep wells to facilitate sewage disposal—everyday 100 million gallons of effluent is pumped into a salt water formation. Geological scale and impact of this solution is still somewhat unknown. A recent article in the Herald proposes effluent will return filtered in the strait of Florida in 1000 years.
The scale of domestic consumption begs for new minimiums in dwelling. This ‘anti-poche’ house attempts to draw out new minimums in resource consumption rather space, or square footage.
Yale School of Architecture, 2020
Critic: Miriam Peterson