With the ‘Boston Living With Water’ the city shows the ambition to, instead of rejecting the water and considering it as a thread, embrace its historic source of growth and prosperity. For ages, the sea and it’s harbor structured the city, the development of the city went hand in hand with the reengineering of the coastline.
Recent events show that we can no longer work with the bias of one waterline (Anuradha Mathur and Dilip da Cunha). Water is everywhere at any time, the concentration and manifestation is different each time: sometimes it seeps into the soil, sometimes it creates puddles. It can manifest as a permanent river, or a seasonal stream. It can feed or destroy the city …
This new stance rejects the idea of ‘stopping’ the water through engineered infrastructure, instead it mediates between the different manifestations of water and the needs of the city through a landscape approach.
Our proposal builds on this structuring capacity of living together with water. It is the start of a blue-green network that will increase the cities capacity to harbor storm water, buffer rainwater, but also enjoy boat rides through the marches, a jog along the canal,…
There is no readymade solution: our proposal is a combination of actions that creates resilience. Breaking the waves, soaking storm water in a new saltwater marsh, retaining slowing down, infiltrating rainwater… in an overflow system. This sequence of ‘water places’ becomes a new cityscape: a space for the city, where water and people meet.
A Backbone of Infrastructure
Along the William Morrisey Boulevard a linear park is created. It connects the Christopher Colombuspark with the campus grounds of the Boston College High School, creating one big, blue-green infrastructure for leisure and water. From the linear park on, the proposal works itself into the city. This blue-green infrastructure is the structuring backbone of new developments: public space, green and water become the main guiding principles for spatial.
Public or semi-public spaces like roads, squares, High School grounds,… are turned into water harboring spaces. By spreading the park over different actors as a collection of smaller interventions, the investment is spread over the actors and time.
A more refined tactic of silting and dredging creates a new tidal landscape at the Neponset river mouth and the islands in front of the coast.
This new landscape is a double sponge: in case of high tides, the seawater is slowed down in the marshes, its grasses and dunes breaking the force of the waves. In case of heavy rains, the rainwater will be buffered in this landscape of creeks, ditches, marshes,… A carefully executed dredging plan will create functional, but also recreational canals. The combination of sweet and salt water will create a new landscape, with very specific fauna and flora.
We present a step-by-step roadmap – or rivermap –, not a fixed masterplan. Small interventions can be developed over time, adapted to the social, ecological and spatial needs of each space. The final result will be a new, intermediate waterscape that connects city to sea and offers a safe and qualitative co-existence with the water.
Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Nele Aernouts; architect, urban designer, PhD candidate; concept, mapping, graphics
Cecilia Furlan; architect, urbanist, PhD candidate; concept, urban design, graphics
Yen Vandervoort; architect, urbanist; concept, urban design, graphics
Koen van den Troost; architect, urbanist; concept