2/21/2012

New York; The Venice of The America's


A team of University of Pennsylvania students imagined what New York City would look like after global warming flooding and designed a unique solution that could theoretically keep the "Big Apple from becoming the Venice of the America's. Global warming will have a profound impact on New York in many ways, but the most pressing issue is flooding.  Some researchers suggest that in 200 years Manhattan can look like Venice.  Experts agree the city should do something to prepare for the inevitable.


U Penn students Tingwei Xu and Xie Zhang think New York can protect itself the way a parent protects a baby's clothes during feeding, by a gigantic bib wrapped around Manhattan.  Its sort of funny how the outer boroughs are always left out of these mega design proposals, but thats another discussion.


In the Penn teams version of the "Bib", an intelligent weaved construction membrane would be draped over buildings in low-lying parts of the city, guarding precious infrastructure from incoming floods.  The membrane would feature a transforming surface that would adapt to different weather conditions, offering more protection in wet conditions than in dry ones.  The transforming surface can combine the multiple functions such as waterproof, lighting and agricultural planting.  Rather than a hierarchy design thinking, each component on the surface has equal essentiality.

Many architects and engineers now believe, post Katrina, that instead of trying to form a bulwark against flooding, cities should embrace it, while trying to minimize its effects.  They propose doing that with "soft infrastructure" –– spongelike sidewalks, marshes, manmade islands, and other absorbent surfaces that can slow storm surges and soak up excess water.  However these surfaces won't dry out the streets altogether.



The giant bib would allow the streets to flood at the same time it would safeguard the city's buildings and the people within them.  Although very abstract and quite unrealistic in design and execution, the idea is forward thinking and on the right track.  It just needs to pair with current and upcoming technology and be more economical to win over New York officials and landlords.