Life Aquatic takes climate change seriously, it considers how we might live with a climate changing urban environment and provides solutions for an adaptive landscape which celebrates the dynamic intersection of land and water.
Water inundation is a key to the ecological and urban vibrancy of the proposal. A range of water levels are utilised to create difference in both a physical and temporal sense. At low tide water is barely present in the canal, at high tide low areas towards the canal entrances are allowed to creep out into the lower plain. Water inundation at extra high tides occurring on a periodic basis form the next strata, and extreme events ranging up to the 100 year flood level form the highest ecological strata.
Landscape as Infrastructure
The proposal considers the new active water landscape as a nature based infrastructure for the city. A variegated marsh landscape forms a threaded series of interconnected parks which in times of flood act as a large water basin with distinct pockets that contain and protect fresh water from bracken water. The surfaces of this infrastructure landscape avoid asphalt and concrete and on the contrary embrace porous materials which allow water to seep into the ground and the larger basin. On an ordinary day the landscape has terraced mounds and some elevated boardwalks that in heavy flood will still be functional and connected but allow the water to have a greater presence; whether it be when it is flowing, as ice or as snow. Buildings are elevated to embrace living with water and a range of activities are choreographed in this landscape to allow for constant occupation throughout the various seasons and for years to come.
Transformation Over Time
Life Aquatic is an economically efficient solution embracing change by allowing existing susceptible areas to flood and any future development take on alternative approaches which allow for different levels of water to exist and create new social and cultural spaces in a hybrid development scenario.
A Celebration of Change
The design embraces water, rather than resist it, by inviting it in and through the site to create a new neighbourhood. Through a strategically staged growth plan, water is permanently re-introduced to the site through a canal system from which the cut earth is utilised to fill and raise the freeway. This is a tide active canal with a wide and dispersed floodplain that constantly offers change through the water levels, the vegetation design responding to specific inundation levels, and the dynamic programmatic occupation that this affords.
Water is celebrated in its many states of being, from its liquid state – slow moving water, to forcefull swell buffered by the new land forms – to torrential rain, snow, and ice. In this manner it acts as an integral component of the natural ecology whilst simultaneously providing the stage for the architecture of the built fabric to engage with these natural qualities. The built fabric is envisioned to move between, and over this landscape of change.
Outr Rmit University
Craig Douglas, Architect
Rosalea Monacella, adaptive urbanist
Greg Afflick, climate change scenario analysis modelling
Tech Yaan Ooi, ecologist
Farah Dakkak, landscape architect
Harriet Rose Roberstson, data infographics
Mohamad Dzulfadzli Baharudin, scenario mapping
Ricky Ray Ricardo, Designer & Editor
Philip Belesky, code writer