If you were at West Coast Green this past weekend you would have surely noticed the elegant bamboo structures along the waterfront surrounded by beautiful native landscaping. What you may not have realized unless you looked closely is that the structure was actually supporting hanging gardens of marsh grass and was a way of preventing and remediating pollution from water runoff. A collaboration of The Natural Builders, Design Ecology, Floating Islands and Bertotti Landscaping, the installation was the talk of the trade show and highlight for us at Inhabitat.
Native landscaping is the first line of defense for storm-water runoff, which carries in it all the pollution from our urban lifestyles (asbestos from our brakes, oil and coolant from our engines, the massive amount of sewage that goes into the bay when it rains, prozac etc.). All of these nasty side effects of our modern lifestyles end up in our bays and estuaries, leading to toxic bird life and stoned fish.
In this experimental installation, which we hope to see duplicated en masse soon, there are two additional layers of protection for the Bay. The artistic bamboo structure is holding up fields of recycled plastic that are planted with native marsh grass. The idea is that the storm water will run through this marsh grass and be filtered in the process. This is a novel approach to bioremediation (essentially using living natural systems to clean up our mess) and although the weekend was dry, the storms are looming.
The third level of protection is the giant floating island that was below the landscaping and bamboo. It is similar to the hanging marshes, only it sits lightly on the water and uses a solar pump to pull water and pollution that may have gotten past the first two lines of defense. The third filter makes sure that as much runoff as possible is treated before being sent out into the greater waters. A big tip of the cap to the team for their collaborative design and installation.
Photos by Mike Chino