The Membrane: From an Edge to a Flood Terrain
First Price Architecture Competition
Media: Landscape+Public Art
State: Awarded First Price International Competition.
In collaboration with: 2Latitudes
Location: Vejle, Denmark
The idea of dividing a place either as water or land is a cultural construction that has been maintained for centuries through a static and mechanistic view of the territory. We have drawn aerial maps that state a clear boundary that define a static location for water. However, water has never responded to such boundaries we have created and probably will never respond. Rivers are always changing courses and flooding happens through rain. We have canalized rivers, hidden the pipes in which water flow, and separated ourselves from water.
We now face the problem of water reaching places that have not been designed for her and looking at is as a catastrophe. And it is, but it is a catastrophe that has been created by us, it is by trying to control and place static boundaries, by imposing instead of allowing, by restraining instead of holding, by resisting instead of surrendering. We are choosing to invite life. We are choosing to hold and surrenderer to an ever changing medium where life manifests.
This project presents a strategic design based on inviting water to flow in and out, just as water usually does in an aquatic terrain like Vejle. We are interested in working with the technical and physical solutions in response to climate change and rising water levels, as well as the cognitive and cultural processes in our relationship with water.
What would happen if we had to change the imaginary dividing line? Could we change the relationship of water to a reality that does not consist in limiting it, but in allowing and inviting? Instead of designing an edge or a wall, can we not prepare for a flood of terrain as a state of the landscape? Can we afford to design through an adaptive and non-defining structure specific to change over time?
Enhance Ecosystem Encounters
Plan View. Softscape. Site #2
Adaptability. SoftScape. Site #2
The edge requires a larger operational design system where the perspective on water and designing with water needs a change. The current imaginary “edge” has been built, and the city has gradually taken up space for water for industrial and port activities. We have naturalised the idea of an edge with water that does not exist. But water has never responded to the human-created boundaries and boundaries she is everywhere before she is a place. She is rain, she is fog, she is clouds and she is rivers. We therefore choose to design spaces that invites and cleans water as well as adapts her flluctuations. For water is the foundation in which life manifests, water quality is what enables life to happen; animals, vegetation and humans alike.