ONNA RESEARCH + DESIGN
DELFT, NL | WORLDWIDE
SHORELINE DESIGN PROPOSAL FOR ECOSYSTEM ENHANCEMENT IN BOSTON, MA
A site conditions report and a proposal for shoreline design based on local ecology were generated and presented to the in-house project team. Discussions with designers highlighted the potential for architecture to support non-human life, including by physically enabling functional ecosystems to develop in the heavily degraded urban intertidal zone. Plans for development include a strong ecosystem restoration component and public easements to the waterfront.
DESIGN FOUNDED ON LOCAL ECOLOGY.
Adapted from Ian McHarg's Designing with Nature, the diagram below outlines design specifications to establish a salt marsh on the sheltered eastern side of the parcel using Spartina alterniflora, S. patens, and Juncus gerardii grasses based on their known tolerance limits. The form and slope of the marsh-sill design is dictated by the physical tolerance of the grass species, and the parcel is stabilized inland by a rock revetment.
The exciting potential to restore marshland in this area is evidenced by the success of a similar marsh restoration area in direct proximity to the east of the parcel. This marsh area is one of very few restored marsh areas in active shipping channels, and its future connectivity to the proposed project would create a very sizable habitat area in this area otherwise devoid of similar ecosystems.
ANTICIPATING EFFECTS FROM CLIMATE CHANGE AND SEA LEVEL RISE.
Artifical tidepools are constructed at the sheltered terminus of bioswales that penetrate the landscape, accomodating flood water during spring tides and storms. Tidepools are specified at three current-day tidal heights to maximize the available habitat space for intertidal species that exhibit zonation patterns. The stepwise design of the tidepools also anticipates higher future sea levels: as the water rises, additional "steps" can be constructed further inland to act as a buffer and provide new high intertidal habitat space.
DESIGN ASPECTS FOR COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT.
Access to the river is restricted for nearly its entire length, though there is increasing support for community initiatives to reconnect residents to the waterfront. This project supports those efforts by providing a public harborwalk, complete with glass partitions that allow sunlight penetration to intertidal ecosystems and viewing by visitors. A kayak launch allows safe access to the water for the first time in this location, and the app "iNaturalist" is promoted to crowd-source the first species assessment in this unique location.
SHORELINE DESIGN RECOMMENDATIONS.
Recommendations for the treatment of this site include: restoring habitat value by planting a living shoreline where conditions are appropriate, enhancing biodiversity and ecosystem services via the installation of artificial tidepools that support intertidal species, anticipate future sea level and plans for urban development through the addition of a harborwalk section that also mitigates flood risk, and to promote the understanding of Chelsea Creek ecology by incorporating interactive exhibits on the eco-industrial heritage of this unique place.