Matthew LaBrake

Matthew LaBrake

Sag Harbor, NY, US


MOTE: A Proposal For The City of Key West

    Disaster averted can be just as important as tragedy realized.  By preparing for the inevitable and protecting the valuable one can survive and rebuild.  The first step is exposing the underlying issues at hand of the island City of Key West with architecture as the apparatus.  In doing so fostered new ways of thinking about architecture that accepts natural forces rather than attempting to resist them.  This architecture has the power to protect and enhance ones life with spacial relations that can be seen as constantly transforming and adapting to the conditions at hand.  This resilient architecture does not merely accept flooding but acts as a register of flooding.

    The initial response is protection as seen in military fortifications with the implementation of the most simple form of protection, “The Wall.”  “The Wall” is a space-defining piece protecting all that lies within its boundaries.  Consisting of vital programmatic elements, the wall is a simple vital piece of the proposal.  Furthermore,  “The Wall” is elevated above the ground level allowing nature as well as pedestrian circulation to flow freely underneath its walls, protecting the program from the dangers of ground level.

    Consisting of the majority of the program, the second level is safely situated elevated above rising currents.  At the same time the second level is completely permeable with its operable facade and separated program blocks.  This enables multiple passive techniques such as natural ventilation and shading.  Furthermore, one witnesses the division between private and public circulation.  Both are implemented as rings the public on the interior and the private on the exterior of “The Wall.”  This generates a distinct separation while allowing the public and private to interact with one another continually reacting, learning and observing from one another.

    Within “The Wall” lies “The Cenote.”  Similar to its natural precedent,  “The Cenote” exposes the natural groundwater lying just beneath the surface of the city.  In combination with “The Wall,”  “The Cenote” sets the stage for “The Liberation.”  “The Liberation” is a floating form within “The Cenote” naturally in flux with the daily tides as well as the potential extreme flooding seen from storm surges and rising sea level.

    In addition to “The Liberation” acting as register for water levels, a tidal organ is also implemented.  The tidal organ acts as a natural warning of rising sea levels sounding at predetermined water levels as well as high tide acting as a constant reminder to the people of Key West.

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Status: Unbuilt
Location: Key West, FL, US
My Role: Lead Designer