Made possible through a $20,000 grant from the Cornelia & Michael Bessie Foundation, GrowOnUs is the latest manifestation in Balmori’s series of water-purifying infrastructures throughout the city. The firm is also interested in seeing how the filter-like gardens can generate income by producing edible plants.

“We have pioneered floating landscapes, we now want to learn what can make these floating structures financially sustainable,” said Balmori Associates founder Diana Balmori. “Dr. Michael Balick at the New York Botanical Garden suggested we grow herbs, low maintenance crops that can give a financial return given their price per volume. In a few years NYC restaurants may be serving meals and drinks infused with herbs grown on one of these islands.”

floating landscape, urban design, green design, growonus, gowanus canal, gowanus canal cleanup, balmori associates, urban gardens, phytoremediation, natural dyesWhen we visited this morning, a pair of butterflies had already fluttered over to the landscape to check it out.

Related: Gowanus Lowline Winners Envision a More Sustainable Future for Brooklyn’s Toxic Canal

The plants in GrowOnUs are housed in metal culvert pipes (the same kind used to carry polluted runoff and sewage waste into the canal) of different heights. A total of 54 “test tubes” contain over 30 different plants that will be studied for their ability to clean water in distinct ways ranging from phytoremediation (the use of plants and associated microorganisms to stabilize or reduce contamination in soils, sludges, sediments, surface water, or ground water) to desalination, as well as viability for usage as sources of natural dye. Coconut fibers, bamboo, mycelium, and recycled plastic were also used to create the verdant island landscape.

floating landscape, urban design, green design, growonus, gowanus canal, gowanus canal cleanup, balmori associates, urban gardens, phytoremediation, natural dyes

GrowOnUs will remain on the canal for a one-year testing period. If the experiment proves successful, the next step would be to create productive floating landscapes on a larger scale.

+ Balmori Associates

Photos and video: Yuka Yoneda for Inhabitat