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Water Systems

This tag is associated with 5 posts

Life on the Canal: Hausboot auf dem Eilbekkanal

Houseboat on the Eilbekkanal, located in Hamburg Germany

Compled: 2009

Living and working Surface: 110m²

Architekten Rost Niderehe

If you have ever wanted to change your neighbours without having to buy a new house then Canal living may be for you. Rost Nidereche Archiects has designed a houseboat that is moored on the  Eibek-canal in Hamburg Germany. The boat is a blend of clean wooden lines and modern design.

Neighbourhood News September 13th: Urban Water and Bridges

Metropolis magazine calls for a new type of water infrastructure since most of it needs to be replaced anyway.

The Cleveland Rowing Foundation closes a deal to create Rivergate Park.

On the subject of Cleveland the city commissions architect Miguel Rosales to build three pedestrian bridges.

Minneapolis St Paul unveils the I35W memorial garden.


Growing Water: A Vision of Chicago in the Future

city of water eco blvd

Proposed Eco Blvd

The Growing Water proposal was put together by UrbanLab for the City of the Future Competition hosted by the History Channel. The History Channel’s competition preamble lays out the historical context of epic engineering projects that are remembered through time.

“The civilizations covered in Engineering an Empire on The History Channel achieved the impossible—they were the first to design and engineer marvels that astonished the world and transcended time.

This competition, in the spirit of visionary thinkers and planners, world’s fairs and literature everywhere, challenges participants to imagine tomorrow’s buildings, transportation networks, and centers of commerce and begin to give them form by creating bold and visionary designs reflecting what their city might look like and how it would function 100 years from now.

The competition aims for clear architectural and engineering responses with the goal of using what we have learned from past civilizations in order to peer into the future. We want to see tomorrow’s cities foretold in three dimensions, not merely written about or described. We are looking for tomorrow’s architectural and engineering marvels, which like the engineering and architectural marvels of past civilizations, have the staying power to endure beyond their times.” s

The City of Water DiagramThe Growing Water Proposal for Chicago puts out a few basic underlying points about what it sees as the conditions facing the world in the upcoming century. It is projected that by the year 2106, the most precious commodity in the world will be water. The Chicago proposal suggests that the city become a fresh water factory in a sense. Reversing the hydrological design which has the city draining water from the great lakes and diverting it across the continental divide into the Mississippi watershed. Currently almost none of the water is returned to the Great Lakes water system.

The project installs a network of Eco-Boulevards designed to function like a giant living machine that will feed used water and storm run off back into the lake after filtering it through a series of engineered marshes. The proposal enhances the ‘Emerald Necklace’ of parks that Chicago is known for and expands them, converting them to a system that not only provides an urban oasis and parkway system but turns the City into a giant fresh water factory.

Fresh water is foreseen to be the Oil of the coming century and as such positions Chicago to enjoy the wealth of living next to one of the largest fresh water deposits in the world.

The proposal is inspiring when especially when you consider that this hydrological utopia is completely achievable with contemporary technology, all it takes is the collective will and a waterfront view is possible most Chicago urbanites the Growing Water Proposal creates a future where cities have a positive impact on the environment, please check it out. Click to see the History Channel Competition and the other winning proposals from LA and New York City.

Growing Water

The Litmus Garden

The site before

The site before

One of the most exciting things we have been seeing lately is the use of engineered marshlands to clean up and reclaim water systems that have been polluted by our poor stewardship of the environment. Back in April of 2001 a group of Volunteers lead by T. Allan Comp Ph.D created a series of cascading pools planted with a variety of species of plants to filter a watershed which had become severely toxic with mining waste. Vintondale, Pennsylvania is a small coal patch town in Cambria County, It was created in the early 20th century by the Vinton Coal Company to support its underground mining operation and surface works. The watershed is a neglected ecosystem and Acid mine Drainage is a large water quality problem. Much of the area had resembled a gash in the earth itself. The good doctor and his multidisciplinary team worked with the community to create the wetlands project that fit the town’s aspirations for the site and still preformed the function of cleaning the water system.

The site after

The site after

On the City of Kent website he talks about the project and how it came about.

When I first started talking about this idea that eventually became AMD&ART and won a national EPA Phoenix award among others, I’d show slides of the standard Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) treatment system, basically a series of rectangular ponds, and suggest we might be able to do more. Then I’d show Buster Simpson’s River Roll-Aids, Mel Chin’s Revival Fields and the Richards/Oppenheimer/Hargraves Bixby Park – but it was the images I had from Herbert Bayer’s Mill Creek Canyon Earthworks that finally got through to the audience. Here was a real problem with a real and art-full solution – it worked to solve the environmental problem and it worked to address something in the human soul as well. I showed Earthworks empty and I showed it full of people and, finally, my audiences started to understand how we might start with rectangular ponds to solve an environmental problem and grow that idea into a 35-acre park that treated AMD, created new wetlands and a new active recreation area while also addressing a need for deeper historical understanding and a more humane connection between past, present and even future. s


He goes on to express how these treatment systems can become living and working gardens that not only clean toxic waterways, but also offer places that engage the mind and honor the past. The projects also have the ability to turn community members from passive inhabitants into advocates for their community. The site has an excellent write up about how the project came about and how it works that I am not going to get into here but these engineered wetlands, like the Sustainable Storm Water Managment System mentioned earlier here on Urban Neighbourhood, offer the opportunity for us to create working environmental systems for our cities that offer enjoyable green space for us to use at the same time. Could you imagine wanting to go for a stroll through the water treatment plant?

Sustainable Stormwater Management

Ne Siskiyou Curb Cut

It isn’t often that I get really excited about the things I read but I positively nerded out when I started reading about a pilot program for Sustainable Stormwater Management that Kevin Robert Perry designed for the city of Portland. One of the most exciting things occurring in Urban Hydrology right now is a return to basic low-tech solutions that not only cost little to maintain, but beautify the area’s they serve.

During A Rain

During A Rain

The NE Siskiyou Green Street is a project that is so simple in its basic premise that the benefits become self evident as soon as you look at it. It is one of those visionary ideas that took a landscape architect willing to think outside of the high-tech box to come up with.

The premise, allow Mother Nature to do the work she is already equipped to do by bringing her back into the equation. The NE Siskiyou Green Street project removed a portion of the street’s parking zone and converted it into a pair of landscaped curb extensions. Curb extensions are ideally suited for residential applications on their own as they act as traffic calming devises and thereby increase pedestrian safety. In this case they go one step further. The curb extensions on this street also capture, cleanse and infiltrate storm water runoff.

The Water Slowing Berms

The Water Slowing Berms

The project basically removes NE Siskiyou St. from the city’s storm/sewer system and manages the runoff locally. Water flows down the approximately 10,000 square feet of of NE Siskiyou Street and the driveways leading off of it until it reaches the seven foot wide curb extensions. The curb extensions have an eighteen inch cut that allows the water to enter the curb extension. The landscaped area within is designed to hold up to seven inches of water, allowing the landscaped area to infiltrate the water. The water is slowed and contained using a series of rock berms that facilitate the curb extensions three inches per hour infiltration rate. In the event of a very intense storm there is a curb cut at the lower end of the planting that allows excess water to flow through and enter the city’s established storm/sewer system.

The extensions are planted with a series of native plants including Oregon grape, sword fern, and grooved rush. The grooved rush does the majority of the storm water management. The upright growth structure of the grooved rush slows down water flow and captures pollutants while its deep penetrating roots work well for water absorption.

Another advantage to this type of local solution is that it keeps the rain where nature put it. Part of the issue with the way that cities currently deal with storm water runoff is that the water is removed from where it fell and away from the local plants that could use it. This system restores water that had been shunted away, back to the local environment.

The most impressive thing about this system is that it manages nearly all of NE Siskiyou’s annual street runoff, estimated at 225,000 gallons, and deals with it locally. Taking the equivalent load off of the old city system. It gets even better, this low impact solution was built for less then $20,000

Please click here to read more.