18th Ward: A Synthetic Bayou

Bayou Area, South Louisiana, Gulf Coast, USA

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Kerry Kyriakou

Crisis: Political / Social / Environmental / Financial
Terrain: Inner levee walls within the St. Bernard bayou District
Product: Communal Living

Project Description:
The deterioration of the landscape of southern Louisiana has been caused by both natural causes and unsustainable human activities. Beginning in the 1760’s, the construction of cargo ship canals blocked the Mississippi River from delivering freshwater nutrients to the topsoil that is necessary to reinforce the existing landscape. This consequently led to soil erosion, sinkage and the change of floe of the Mississippi River outlet. Another main catalyst of environmental change in the area is annual sea level rise, averaging 2 cm per year, which allows sea water to erode in existing landscape at an alarming rate. The landscape is in a state of decay, and is slowly being reclaimed by the sea. As these exacerbated environmental conditions continue, the people living in the bayou are losing not only their houses but also their sense of place and home: the landscape and terrain that roots their self-sufficient identity. Increasingly, people living in the Bayou are being forced to leave their homes and relocate to cities in which are given temporary placements in public housing. “18th Ward: A Synthetic Bayou” aims to intervene in this politically-driven situation by creating a new Bayou area that considers the lifestyle of the bayou people. The proposal offers a re-interpretation of the existing built landscape and provides a new response mechanism that deals with short-term change.

 

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