Illustration rendering of perspective of Riverside Park
Situated by the Tiber River, La Voliera revives the once animated Foro Boario by reconnecting the city to the Tiber river through Cloaca Maxima, while introducing a bird sanctuary for the densely populated local bird species. COURTESY HSIN AUDREY WANG, PARTNER: MARLEY OLSEN

Four Students Probe the Resilience of Wetland Development

These members of the 2023 Metropolis Future100 respond to the challenges of climate change and extreme weather by looking at the places where land, water, and cities intersect.

Given that climate change and its extreme weather patterns are upending existing modes of planning, it’s important that today’s architecture students explore ways to mitigate its impact on wetlands, which are key components of resilience plans. Several Future100 students are breaking new ground in that area. 

Rebuilding Coastlines’ Natural Defenses

With hurricanes and rising sea levels threatening to erode vast stretches of Louisiana’s coastline, the state is the perfect training ground for resilient design strategies. Against this backdrop, Courtney Klee, a graduate student at Louisiana State University, has conceived a set of natural and nature-based solutions. Klee’s Grand Isle Restoration concept seeks to rebuild the eroded Gulf Coast barrier island with landscaping measures such as mangrove and dune-grass plantings as well as a dune and breakwater installation. 

That same emphasis on shoring up natural defenses is evident in Nest & Cave, a project led by Florida International University graduate Chelsea Cameron. As the title suggests, the project is to create an ecosystem, or home, for the mangrove tree crab within Miami’s Greynolds Park. The crabs are an essential part of that ecosystem because their burrowing activities and leaf eating help to balance it. Cameron’s proposed human-made bamboo structure could provide habitat and serve as a research and learning hub. 

a model of a building on a former golf course site designed by Meghana Tummala
Meghana Tummala uses her project to propose the partial relocation of a golf course to both improve conditions of Michigan’s Fleming Creek and clear the way for a new ecological justice center informed by the stories of the area’s Indigenous people. COURTESY MEGHANA TUMMALA

Resilience and Reparations

In some cases, improving an area’s resilience is also tied to the larger issue of reparations for its residents. Meghana Tummala, of the University of Michigan, uses her project Repair, Reclaim & Reparations to address both. It proposes relocating parts of an existing golf course to improve the conditions of Fleming Creek, a tributary of the Huron River, while also creating space for a new ecological justice center informed by the stories of the indigenous Ojibwa, Odawa, and Potawatomi tribes. 

The United States is not the only country grappling with the issue of wetland restoration: Hsin Audrey Wang’s Rosario-Victoria Science and Service Center, a science center proposed for a preserved wetland in Argentina near the Paraná River, would be achieved through a modular construction system engineered to rest lightly on the ground. 

Student projects such as these stand out because they provide a glimmer of hope for one of our most precious resources. 

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