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  • Designing for Change #NETHERLANDSplanBAC

    By deancascieri
    Oct 23, '19 12:50 PM EST

    In order to design for a climate ready future, we must learn lessons from our past. Climate change calls for a new way of thinking, a new way of approaching problems, and a constructive effort to building a collective consciousness around the issues our planet is facing and will continue to face.

    Today, the earth has 2 billion people with too much water and another 2 billion people without enough water to survive. Not only that, but there is a growing gap of social inequality and a shrinking ecological surface that is consistently sacrificing human development. These issues are monumental disasters on a societal, economic, and ecological scale and that is exactly why we must expand our design thinking as architects now. In reality, "we are all passengers of this ship called planet earth". Buckminster Fuller

    The BAC's Resiliency Designing for Change (ARCH 3 STUDIO) empowers our young designers and students to take the lead, be bold, and put their future into their hands. This is a chance for the design industry to create a new vision and narrative that demonstrates these challenges as an opportunity with a goal that allows people and nature to co-habitate and thrive hand in hand, creating "BOTH/AND" solutions. In other words, students' design must BOTH solve the challenges of climate change, AND enhance the communities they serve working effectively in a homeostatic fashion.

    Last Fall 2018, we began a parallel studio with the Amsterdam Academy of Architecture that permitted 9 Dutch Academy students to travel to the USA and work in parallel with BAC students to re-think East Boston's waterfront and central square in collaboration with NOAH and the City of Boston.

    This Fall 2019, in collaboration with the Dutch Academy, we led a group of 9 BAC students to the Netherlands to learn from some of the most advanced water focused societies in the world regarding Dutch methodologies in designing for climate change. During our travels, we visited several significant resiliency focused projects that address social, economic, and environmental issues in the Netherlands. These projects helped set the stage for the hypothetical concept that the Netherlands could be flooded with 6 meters of sea level rise by 2200, of which some climate experts believe is a distinct scientific possibility. The initial concept was developed by Deltares and imagined by LOLA Landscape Architects of which the students used as a starting point for the studio.


    Upon our arrival in Amsterdam this year, the BAC studio students worked closely in parallel with the Dutch Academy students, and had opportunities to interview a number of climate adaptation design professionals. Piet Dircke of Arcadis, a world leading design and engineering consultancy firm, gave the students an overview of their natural and built projects across the Netherlands. The students also interviewed Pieter Jannink and his team at MUST urbanism to better understand their perspective on climate change projections, and how it will affect port cities such as Rotterdam, NL. In addition, the students received a personalized tour of Marker Wadden with Rik de Visser of Vista the mastermind landscape architect of the project. These new concepts of resilient design thinking gave the students a refreshing and innovative perspective of how the Dutch are prioritizing construction building ecology and natural habitats in an effort to adapt to climate change.

    BAC Master of Landscape Architecture students Heather Edin and Erica Rayworth, share their experiences walking with Rik de Visser in Marker Wadden. "Stepping off the boat onto the dock of the Marker Wadden Island in the Netherlands was a surreal experience. The sublime was compounded with the presence of the creator of the built island. We were able to walk and talk with Rik de Visser on the importance of ecology and the creation of space for wildlife in a highly built world. The future of landscape architecture is in the reclamation of space for natural systems to thrive. The islands begin the important process of healing in a world where overuse has scared the landscape," Edin shared.

    "To design Marker Wadden with government funding in order to restore ecological balance is an awe-inspiring environmental step. Paths and structures were carefully designed and placed and, in contrast, planting plans were left to naturally occur. The balance of designing nature and letting nature roots drive this project will inform my future designs for the rest of my career. There is a place for people and a place for ecologies on this globe; we do not need to compete," said Rayworth.

    Part of their studio assignment during this trip was to present a "One Minute Pitch" of their design concepts for the hypothetical Netherlands sea level rise crisis at the Dutch Academy. Ryan Bateman, M. Arch student, shares about his team's proposed design: "A major issue with master planning a city is running into the issue of a cookie-cutter style streetscape where the only difference between each building is the number on the mailbox. Borneo-Sporenburg in East Amsterdam is a prime example of how to overcome that issue. Each home is designed to the particular taste of the homeowners or landlords, meaning no two buildings are the same. This waterfront community is an ideal precedent for the floating communities we plan on designing and is a great place to start looking for uniqueness in each design."


    In addition to their base of research in Amsterdam, the studio crew took a road trip across the southwest part of the Netherlands to learn exactly why the Dutch have expertise in water management. This road trip was sponsored by the Boston office of Perkins and Will, which permitted the students to see, first-hand, engineering wonders of the world. During the road trip, students received a guided tour from local municipality planners of Katwijk aan Zee's Storm Surge Dune Protection Project, which is elevated about 25ft above sea level, as well as De Zandmotor, a unique science experiment creating land from dredging and utilizing natural currents of the North Sea to protect from coastal erosion.

    Students also visited the Delta Works, which is the largest network of dams in the world managed by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management. During this experience, students received a tour of Maeslantkering, a storm surge barrier compared to the size of two Eiffel towers which protects Europe's largest port in Rotterdam.


    On the final day, the students explored Rotterdam, learning from urban projects that have multipurpose benefits, absorbing water, and creating spaces for social recreation and economic vitality. These projects included Benthemplein's Watersquare Plaza and Dakpark, a levee / park designed to accommodate parking, retail space, and a grocery store. 


    The trip was concluded in a classroom session at the Dutch Academy, with engaging, immersive and scientifically driven design collaboration ideas between the Dutch Academy and BAC students and staff. They all worked side by side on developing and presenting design concepts that address the predicted forthcoming challenges of climate change in the Netherlands.

    BAC and Dutch Academy Students working in collaboration at the Amsterdam Academy of Architecture

    Continue to follow along on the students' research, design, and progress on Twitter and Instagram at #NETHERLANDSplanBAC.

    SOURCE: Arlen Stawasz, Tyler Hinckley, Rob Adams, Ashley Abon
    All photos and videos courtesy of Arlen Stawasz.

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The #BACbuzz blog will help to inform, educate, and share relevant and noteworthy architectural and design news happening within the Boston Architectural College and around the Boston community.

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  • deancascieri

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