Old man on the run… – say hello! – say good bye!

The inevitable next shift of the Mississippi to the Atchafalaya Basin will occur rapidly and there will be no holding back. This will have dramatic consequences for the present – then abandoned course of the river. New Orleans and its industry will be without the freshwater. The port of Louisiana (aka. American Ruhr) is the largest industrial port in nation it will be out of business immediately. The channel will dry with sediment and leave a contaminated “Cancer Valley” behind.  The new course will not be prepared for this amount of water, it will result in fairly spread out floodplain of the Atchafalaya basin.

If it ain’t broke don’t fix it! …?

No one would like to think of this America Noir scenario to become true, but there is a significant risk that it might; neglect or “wait and see” may not be the best advise, here.

The studio takes this scenario on and seeks for proactive measures to help make that occurrence less disastrous by being better prepared. One way to avert “natural disasters” is to better understand how nature is constructed in the particular context.

The studio will conduct speculative design research exploration to analyze and represent the consequences and to begin to imagine measures that could be taken to help transition out of the past and into the next course of the Mississippi.

In order to allow for informed speculations we will need to obtain the best understanding of the context. Mapping and diagramming will be the tools to capture ecological and economic regimes. Agents of change will be identified and “tool kits” will be elaborated for strategic interventions.

Key concepts in our understanding and management of natural dynamics will need to be addressed.  Will we proceed with the paradigm of control and order? Will full channelization be the adequate approach for the new Mississippi? The history of Louisiana is about the control of nature.

How can its future learn from the history of ideas. Will we provide for a BIG EASY?

The American Ruhr without the Mississippi?

Pro-active scenarios for the next shift of the Mississippi.

PHASING IN   How to design a natural levee? Building with sedimentation

Case study Bonnet Carre sediment harvesting. Create new self-similar diversion distributaries channels for accretion network. If natural levees are the highest ground today- how can we accelerate the process of constructing “natural levees?

How can patterns of sedimentation be utilized to construct richer section levees with multiple lines and saline gradients? How to conceive a new Atchafalaya basin by utilizing landscape machines of the Morganza and other floodways: Anticipate accretion and steer sedimentation: Building land along a new paradigm of diversion tributaries. Using the spillways to construct new land with sediment in plains and natural levees.

PHASING OUT   How to retrofit a dry “Cancer valley”?

Revetment structure of concrete harness. Parametric exercise of working with the given structure and tweaking it. A new batture public land gained on the levee front form the Missisissippi How to rethink New Orleans as an island in the gulf: Venice Louisiana.

Assume the limits of Orleans Parish to be the boundaries of the polder. Re-densification of the urban along the higher ground of the levee: linear city

Without a fresh water source lower lying neighborhoods will be abandoned due to saltwater intrusion. Mangrove topology: can the Florida mangrove ecosystem provide a stronger green buffer against the storm and hold the ground?

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Pathological Geomorphology


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Wier Tests on the Bonnet Carre


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Nasa Earth Observatory – Mississippi River

You should all check out the NASA Earth Observatory for some great images of the Mississippi flooding and the science behind them. These are two of the best that I found but there are many more.




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Smart Street Art Activism: Civic Center New Orleans

“We’re a civic design studio based in New Orleans that works to make cities more comfortable for people. Founded by Candy Chang and James A. Reeves in 2010, Civic Center blends art, design, education, research, and urban planning to create spaces and tools that help people navigate their cities and improve their neighborhoods. We believe that public spaces should inspire conversation, make the machinery of the city more accessible, and restore a sense of dignity to the public realm.”

With help from old and new friends, Candy Chang turned the side of an abandoned house in her neighborhood in New Orleans into a giant chalkboard where residents can write on the wall and share what is important to them. Before I Die is an interactive public art project that transforms neglected spaces into constructive places where we can discover the hopes and aspirations of the people around us. Share your dreams here.

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