Oyster-Tecture and the Gowanus Canal

Zone 4, of SCAPE studio

The Gowanus Canal is one of America’s most polluted waterways, and its location in the New York Harbor made it one of the many places that were effected by flooding as a result of Hurricane Irene. If that isn’t enough to think about, last year the EPA declared the Gowanus Canal as a Superfund site, “As a result of years of discharges, storm water runoff, sewer outflows and industrial pollutants, the Gowanus Canal has become one of the nation’s most extensively contaminated water bodies. Contaminants include PCBs, coal tar wastes, heavy metals and volatile organics. The contamination poses a threat to the nearby residents who use the canal for fishing and recreation.”

Rising Currents, an exhibit that was featured at the MoMA just last year, was a cohesive showcase of five projects tackling the lingering truth that within a few years, the waterfront of the New York harbor will drastically change. We highlighted Zone 0 earlier this week, comprised of ARO and dlandstudio, they specifically took a look at the lower Manhattan landscape, proposing to develop a new soft and hard infrastructure solution paved with a mesh of cast concrete and engineered soil and salt tolerant plants.

Zone 4, or Oyster-Tecture by Kate Orff, dealt directly with the highly polluted Gowanus Canal. We shared with you Orff’s TEDTalk on Oyster-Tecture back in Februrary, and feel like it is a subject worth revisiting. Eastern oysters being her focus, she shares how the oyster can improve water quality as a natural bio filter. Blending urbanism and ecology she proposes an oyster reef for the Gowanus Canal and Governors Island, an accessible idea that can be implemented immediately.  A further description about Zone 4 Oyster-Tecture following the break.