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Waterpod Project

The Waterpod ProjectTM has been floating around the New York area for the past few months gaining a lot of attention.  Beginning in Newtown Creek, between Brooklyn and Queens, the Pod is moving down the East River and Hudson River.  As reported by Melena Ryzik for The New York Times (view her articles here) this experimental project investigates the blend of community living and artistry. Showcasing artworks, performances and such, the WaterpodTM, is an eco-conscious environment that was designed “In preparation for our coming world with an increase in population, a decrease in usable land, and a greater flux in environmental conditions, people will need to rely closely on immediate communities and look for alternative living models; the Waterpod is about cooperation, collaboration, augmentation, and metamorphosis,” explained Mary Mattingly, a photographer who thought of the Waterpod idea. More about the WaterpodTM after the break.

Designed to move with the rising tides, the Pod is “adaptable, flexible, self-sufficient, and relocatable, responsive to its immediate and shifting environment.”

The Pod is made from donated/recyclable materials such as a Parks Department pier and metal railings from the Broadway set of “Equus,” donated by the Materials for Arts non-profit organization in Queens.  A heavy vinyl tarp stitched from discarded billboards covers the spherical shapes.  The main space in the dome is for the community to engage in the arts.  The second sphere includes the vertical agriculture, greywater recycling, and alternative power sources. The third area includes a kitchen and shower room, and the fourth contains four separate bedrooms including a guest bedroom.

Although the structure is an actual residence for artists, the public is welcome to explore the project. As people visit the structure daily, common questions arise about basic necessities like eating and bathing.  As for the diet aboard the Waterpod, most of the food is produced on the actual boat and cooked using plug-in hot plates that are powered by the solar panels on the roof.   Rain is collected in a large bucket, filtered twice for bathing and dish-washing and three times for drinking.   Those on board must get used to the three minutes of hot water for the shower and a two-part dry toilet that composites waste. By allowing the community to board the vessel, people become aware of the extreme measures that are taken to make this a sustainable place.  Yet, those measures, when duplicated in the home environment, can become more plausible.

“Frankly, I don’t think any of us, when we started, knew how much work it would be,” Ms. Ward, who lives full time aboard the Pod said. “Building it was hard, but I thought once we got it up and running, we would be able to, you know, make art…It has challenged everyone on all levels – levels of comfort, levels of intellect… There’s a never-ending list of things to do: It’s a ship. It’s a farm. It’s an art residence. It’s an installation.”

While Ms. Ward and Ms. Mattingly have lived aboard the Waterpod since June 12,  the other crew members rotate so a variety of artists can experience the project. While some enjoy the project, others have differing views.  Eve K. Tremblay, a Canadian-born artist, explained, “It’s looking a bit too hippy right now…I’m a bit of a critical voice on this project. There is very little time to read or do art. It takes a lot of work to do sustainability. And sometimes it feels like Frankenstein, like we’ve created this organism that has a life of its own.”

The Pod will be docked on Staten Island till the end of August (for the full schedule).  If you are in the area, you should check it out and see for yourself what it would be like to live aboard for a few weeks. As seen on designboom. All images courtesy of waterpod.org

Cite:Karen Cilento. "Waterpod Project" 18 Aug 2009. ArchDaily. Accesed . <http://www.archdaily.com/32534/waterpod-project/>