A THICKENED PRESENT:
A Place of Re-framed Water Ecology and Re-interpreted History
Site: Industrial Remains, East Providence, RI, US
Individual Work, Site Ecology Studio, RISD, 2017 SPRING
“Change and recurrence are the sense of being alive: things gone by, death to come, and present awareness. The world around us, so much of it our own creation, shifts continually and often bewilders us. We reach out to that world to preserve or to change it and so to make visible our desire.”
------What time is this place, Kevin lynch
Things happened and gone, the traces left. My design concept started with the overlapping trace.
If you overlap the maps over the four hundred years of history, you will be fascinated by the changes of the site. As a part of Narragansett Bay area, it reveals how humans occupy the land, how we construct the infrastructures, lose them, and then develop the new based on the previous. It is a silent witness of time. The site was borrowed from water in the name of human development. It was disturbed by human activity and the force of water over four hundred years.
I keep the things. And selectively edit them in order to evoke their original impressions.
The order of railroads. The railroad is not only a path or a form. It sits heavily on the ground. It’s an artificial and distinguishing element between the landform and water. It‘s always the higher and safer place during floods or storms. The structure of berms. It is how we construct this land. It used to be an edge condition, a state of stability and solid. I keep part of them for protection of the restored wetland, while I break rest of them at the point with high water velocity to soften the edge for ecological function. By doing this, I give power back to water. The piles which indicate the way we claim our land from the ocean are re-used to capture the sound of water. You listen to it, and be respectful of water. Some disposal stones are used as stepping stones for human activity as well as shelters for micro aquatic species. Piling them into a wire cube, recalls the memory of containers in the port.
The realm of water. I re-invite water on to the stage. Design with water. It’s crucial for salt marsh restoration and also helps to develop a resilient scenario in the future. "Flood is the word they use, but in fact it is remembering where it used to be". The GIS storm tool predicts the future area affected by storms and sea level rise. The locations are surprisingly similar to where there was water before. By helping its remembering, we construct its future in a better way.