Oyster-Tecture and the Gowanus Canal

Zone 4, Kate Orff 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.

Oyster-Tecture (Kate Orff) contains the controversial zone – the polluted canal. The team proposed to nurture the already active revitalization of a long lost natural oyster reef. ”This is not a technology driven project,” said Ms. Orff. ”It is not based on a budget of millions of dollars. It is supposed to be something that is realistic and something that can work in the very, very near future.” The oyster reed is constructed from nets of woven “fuzzy rope” that supports oyster growth. The reef will clean millions of gallons of harbour water and by attenuating waters, protect the adjacent shore line. Dubbed “Oyster-tecture,” the series of oyster nurseries, combined with the underwater rope scaffolding for reefs, would generate a new public landscape for the New York Harbor and enable a new cleaner water-based Gowanus community to take shape in the inland zone.

Rising Currents Zones

Zone 4, Kate Orff of SCAPE studio
Zone 4, Kate Orff of SCAPE studio
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Cite: Kelly Minner. "Oyster-Tecture and the Gowanus Canal" 01 Sep 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/165568/oyster-tecture-and-the-gowanus-canal> ISSN 0719-8884

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