Urban Growth: Living with the River

This project examined a few typical responses to high density housing on a waterfront site in the city and poses new solutions to them. The tower-on-a-base developer model on our site was met with the problem of predicted flooding. Locating a massive retail base at the ground floor, adjacent to the river would present a future problem as the water continues to rise. We began to erode the typical edge condition on the site and instead of trying to prevent flooding, we prepared the site for it. This also subverted the tower-on-a-base model and opened the lower floors up to allow the river in. The building’s footprint was minimized and the density of the residential tower above was maintained. 

The tower-on-a-base model is also typically a hermetic box, closed to the outside and fully glazed to allow for views. We created a planted buffer in the apartments at the facade and even eroded the walls within the upper apartments and replaced them with cables of varying density that would allow a planted interior while maintaining privacy. The center of the apartments was an open, flexible space that could serve as a potential interior/exterior balcony. Each tower apartment had cross-ventilation and air could move fluidly through the entire space. The apartments near the base began to display a different sort of relationship to the city: They had a larger exterior space and fluid interior walls. 

The structure of the building serves as a conduit for river water which rises through the tower and irrigates the interior gardens. The second water system is an accessible rain collection wetlands at the top of the tower that filters water slowly though planted material and can be used for most of the building’s remaining water needs.

*with Rachel Watson