The reality is clear: the global sea level is rising. Coastal cities are under threat of flooding during storms, and many areas are ill-equipped to sustain such an attack of nature. Increasingly, this is where technology and design converge, resulting in new approaches to city infrastructure and housing that is resilient enough to withstand or even benefit from the changing conditions. Paul Lukez Architects (PLA) brought together a multidisciplinary team to address this complex challenge in a Boston neighborhood which is surrounded by water on three sides, making it particularly vulnerable to the rising tides.
The proposal is called HydroUrbanism: Harnessing Energy from Rising Tides. In essence, the PLA-led team looked at the harsh reality of rising sea levels and searched until they saw opportunities instead of just impending doom. Boston’s Columbia Point neighborhood is at the heart of the design, which seems to transform the area into a self-sustaining, resilient neighborhood. To accomplish this task, professionals from a variety of disciplines were needed, and according to Paul Lukez, the project was “made possible through the highly collaborative efforts” of the team, which included C2 Studio, Barnraisers Group LLC, Simpson Gumpertz & Heger, Arup, and Prof. Anamarija Frankic.
The neighborhood in question is the perfect candidate for a resilient facelift. It consumes a peninsula that juts out into the bay, giving it a lengthy coastline on three sides The concept is simple. If the tides are rising, why not harness some energy from them? So, that’s what the redesigned neighborhood is proposed to do. The community can draw clean energy through new, advanced hydroelectric systems that generate power from tidal changes. Other renewable systems (solar, wind, geothermal, biomass) enable the community to achieve greater energy independence. The neighborhood is built using a system of courtyards integrated into a new community with self-sustaining renewable energy generation on each block. The new masterplan integrates existing buildings, institutions and campuses while adding such new features as a hydroelectric canal and a system of retention ponds.
The fact remains that the waters will continue to rise, so bringing together the forces of architecture, engineering, and renewable energy to create a holistic solution that benefits the community beyond storm protection was, essentially, a pretty good idea.
Images via Lukez Architects