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on the horizon:

creating a contextual refuge on the shifting Louisiana coast

Elizabeth Kovacevic Thesis Research and Analysis Fall 2013 AHST 5110 Thesis Design Spring 2014 DSGN 5200 Director: Graham Owen

table of contents Thesis Statement........................................................................................................2 Thesis Abstract............................................................................................................2 Essay.............................................................................................................................5 Introduction............................................................................................................5 What happens when people leave?..................................................................5 What does climate change affect?...................................................................7 How can communities survive?.........................................................................9 Examples of adaptation.....................................................................................10 Louisiana’s coast.................................................................................................11 Moving inside the levee walls...........................................................................15 Precedent Research and Analysis.........................................................................18 Program.....................................................................................................................34 Site..............................................................................................................................42 Design Proposal........................................................................................................52 Conclusion..................................................................................................................66 Bibliography...............................................................................................................68

statement & abstract

thesis statement As the physical, psychological, and monetary costs of living on the Louisiana coast grow an environmentally and contextually sensitive infrastructure can initiate the relocation of levee outliers while keeping communities intact and maintaining quality of life.

abstract Climate change and sea level rise are making it more dangerous to live in coastal towns and cities. Communities in these areas must learn how to become more disaster resilient and adaptive by creating more connected and educated populations. In places devastated by natural disasters, the most vulnerable populations are the ones who are left behind. Climate refuges will become more and more common as people are forced to move from the places they call home due to inhabitable conditions. It would be beneficial for these populations to move before a large scale disaster forces them to leave. As the Louisiana coast subsides and is flooded by rising sea levels, the area is becoming more vulnerable to intense floods and storms. While there is a levee surrounding the New Orleans metropolitan area, the communities outside of the levee’s protection are exposed to the elements. In these neighborhoods, the frequent damage by storms and rising flood insurance rates are making it too expensive to stay. St. Bernard and Plaquemines parishes are the areas that will lose the most land and where the land is vital to the local and national economy. An environmentally and contextually sensitive infrastructure will initiate the relocation of these populations, allowing them to remain in their communities while preserving their lifestyle and quality of life. To combat the dispersion of a strong community, I propose a system that allows the communities outside the levee walls to form new town centers within the flood protection. Specifically in St. Bernard Parish, a central hub would be built on the edge of the levee protection to attract people to move to a safer area. The town center is near the most southeastern part if the levee along Louisiana 46. The center will provide support for the intended increase in population as the area fills in with relocating residents. The center will increase the disaster resilience by providing spaces that can educate the public about climate change, facilitating movement to outside the levee with a boat and automobile transit hub, provide economic support through agriculture and fishing, and help the elderly population stay connected with their community. With the creation of this new town center, the residents that are threatened with sea level rise and flooding will be able to remain connected to their land, their communities, and their livelihoods while reducing their risk.

On the Horizon




On the Horizon


As climate change and sea level rise threaten a string of communities, how can a population that’s already been reduced by multiple natural disasters find a sense of place and a high quality of life behind the levee walls? The residents of southeastern Louisiana are faced with the physical and financial reality of climate change. After Hurricane Katrina in 2005 the communities shrank in population, leaving the remaining people with fewer resources and an aging population. As the coast and the dynamics of the population change, southeastern Louisiana must adapt in order to weather the storm.

what happens when people leave?

Fig. 1: polarization of cities where red shows population growth, grey shows a stable population and blue shows population losses predicted between 2005-2015


There has been a great deal of research recently into the causes and effects of migration out of certain cities(Oswalt 2006, Sorensen 2006, Allweil 2007). Architects and planners are faced with how to deal with shrinking populations when they have mostly focused on growing economies and communities. “More than one in four cities around the world was a shrinking city (large cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants) between 1990 and 2000.1” While there have always been movement away from rural areas to urban areas, the wide-spread movement from cities to more stable cities is a new phenomenon. The movement may also be amplified by the effects of climate change. There are four main reasons outlined that contribute to the loss of population in areas: economic change, change in population dynamics, climate change, and suburbanization.

economic change 1900


Fig. 2: urban population growth from 1800 to 2000

1. Rieniets, Tim. “Global Shrinkage.” In Shrinking Cities, (Ostfildern-Ruit: Hatje Cantz, 2006), 21. 2. Rieniets, “Gloabal Shrinkage,” 21. 3. Rieniets, “Gloabal Shrinkage,” 25. 4. Park, Kyong. “Moving Cities,” In Shrinking Cities (Ostfildern-Ruit: Hatje Cantz, 2006), 184.

The industrialization of many countries was followed by the rapid urbanization of those countries. “The percentage of worldwide urban population grew from 3% in 1800 to 14% in 1900 and finally to 47% in 2000.2”Many of these countries have since morphed into post-industrialized economies that rely on service-based industries instead of production-based industries. As the job markets changed, so did the movement of people. Cities that offer more jobs in the post-industrialized economy have become magnets for people, while other cities have begun to shrink. This is evident in Germany where the overall population is shrinking, but the loss is concentrated in certain cities that lack strong economies3. Climate change is also having a large impact on economies. Because the impact is not even over all markets, some cities and areas will feel stronger effects. If the economy is not strong, the mobile portion of the population will move. “As the mobility of individuals has grown into a mass realitynecessitated by the nomadic behavior of the economy, constant technological advancements and obsolescence, and other transient realities of culture- has the traditional function or theory of cities as a space for stability, permanency, and heritage now become obsolete?4”

On the Horizon

population dynamics Another factor that causes cities to shrink is the overall birthrate. Low birthrates are common in many developed countries across the world. These are the same countries that experienced mass urbanization a century earlier. This has to do with the direct connection between affluence and low birthrates. “The higher per capita income and the faster it (the society) grows, the lower the birthrates are; or, rather, the faster they decline.5” Countries that have low birthrates must either face a dropping national population or rely on immigration to offset the low fertility. A shrinking population is also an aging population. This has a negative effect on the economy, social programs, and social relations. “Economic growth and the growth rate per capita income are both restrained by the declining number of producers and consumers.6” This also directly affects social programs because of an imbalance in the number of contributors and pensioners. The Japanese government will have to face this reality shortly because of their rapidly shrinking population, where the “share of the population over 65 has increased from 4.9 per cent in 1950 to 19.6 per cent in 2004 and is expected to rise to 29.6 per cent by 2030.7”


25 20 15 10 5

Fig. 3: rise in percentage of popualtion over 65 in Japan during 1980-2013



climate change People also migrate out of cities and neighborhoods due to the threat of natural disasters. Climate change is causing a higher frequency of natural disasters and changing the economic bases in many areas. Some cities are finding that their main industries are threatened by intense storms, rising sea levels and drought.8 There are also communities that will be forced to leave areas that are no longer habitable due to climate change. While people move away from areas that pose potential threat or areas in an economic downturn, others continue to stay. The people who stay do so for a wide variety of reasons. The main two are the inability to move either because of health or money and the unwillingness to move due to the connection they feel towards the community and the land. In both cases, it is the older population that is more permanent and less willing to move. Similar to the effects of low birthrate, disaster prone areas will also become aging populations.

suburbanization Finally suburbanization plays a large role in the shrinking of urban communities. The cities and neighborhoods built and planned in the 20th century were focused on decentralization due the ease of travel by the automobile. People no longer had to rely on proximity or public transportation to get living essentials. “The advantages of the core over the periphery shrank; people and industry naturally gravitated toward the cheaper land and open spaces at the edge.9” The fact that most people who are able to move are more affluent, left the city’s core to become an area of low income. If rapid suburbanization is experienced, like it has been in Detroit, areas can be left blighted


Fig. 4: decrease in fertility in Japan rate during 1980-2013

“Economic growth and the growth rate per capita income are both restrained by the declining number of producers and consumers.” 5. Rieniets, “Gloabal Shrinkage,”61. 6. Birg, Herwig. “Demographic Aging,” In Shrinking Cities, (Ostfildern-Ruit: Hatje Cantz, 2006 )117. 7. Sorensen, “Livable Cities in Japan: Population Ageing and Decline as Vectors of Change,” International Planning Studies 11, no. 3-4 (2006) 229. 8. IPCC, “Summary for Policymakers,” In Climate Change 2007: Imapcts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability, (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 11. 9. Fishman, Robert. “Suburbanization: USA,” In Shrinking Cities, (Ostfildern-Ruit: Hatje Cantz, 2006), 73.


On the Horizon

and nearly empty. There has been a recent increase in re-urbanization that Fishman writes, in Shrinking Cities, is due in part to downtown revitalization, gentrification, immigration, and the rise of the black middle class10. In return, this could cause the shrinking of suburbs, which lack the infrastructure to become walkable communities and therefore will experience the effects of population loss more greatly. Also, they will feel greater effects from storms and climate change because a decentralized community means more area and less money to protect the community.

effects of population loss

Fig. 5: empty lots in Detroit

Population loss can have large negative effects on the communities that experience it. The fewer people in an area, the more expensive it is to provide them with services. In places like Detroit, the city officials are asking people to relocate because they are “no longer able to provide services to the neighborhood.11” This means things such as water, electricity, sewage treatment, the fire and police forces, street maintenance, and social services may be cut off or greatly reduced in areas that are sparsely populated. As climate change continues to affect communities, less dense areas will also find that flood control, drought resistance, and overall disaster resilience will be lower. Also, property values go down in areas that have blighted lots, further decreasing the economic vitality of the community.

what does climate change affect?

“Regional climates in the United States are expected to become more variable with more intense and frequent extremes.”

Global climate change is affecting communities around the world. This man-made phenomenon is causing changes in sea level, climate patterns, and storm intensity. The average annual temperature has risen 9 degrees Fahrenheit during the 21st century12. Warmer temperatures are the root cause for sea level rise. As the atmosphere warms, the seas absorb heat and expand to a larger volume. Also, the melting of the ice caps adds more water to the world’s oceans. Finally, warmer temperatures are also causing more severe storms, droughts, and floods. “Regional climates in the United States are expected to become more variable with more intense and frequent extremes.13” These changes are affecting communities’ economies, psyches, and physical locations.

economic effects

10. Fishman, “Suburbanization: USA,” 73 11. Okrent, Daniel and Steven Gray, “The Future of Detroit: How to Shrink a City,” Time Magazine, Novemeber 11, 2012. 12. Congressional Budget Office, Potential Impacts of Climate Change in the United States, (Washington DC: Congress of the United States, 2009). 13. CBO, Potential Impacts of Climate Change, 5. 14. IPCC, “Summary for Policymakers,” 12.

Climate change is expected to affect many aspects of life globally. The economy, which is linked to resources provided by nature, is influenced by climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts that changes in global temperatures will have a large effect on the world’s economies. For coastal communities, “regional changes in the distribution and production of particular fish species are expected due to continued warming, with adverse effects projected for aquaculture and fisheries.14” It is also predicted that an increase in global temperatures above 3 degrees Fahrenheit will cause a decrease in potential food production. Water supplies will also

become sparser around the world, with more drought-prone areas. These three factors combined will have a large effect on the economy via direct decreases in resource-based markets and indirect decreases in service-based markets.

On the Horizon


psychological effects While the physical environment is in flux, climate change is also expected to affect the psychological health of communities. “The incidents of mental and social disorders will rise steeply. These will include depressive and anxiety disorders, substance abuse, suicides, and widespread outbreaks of violence.15” This study suggests that the increase of climate related events and the adverse effects of these events will cause psychological distress and trauma related problems in many communities. There will also be an increase of stress and anxiety over climate change problems. Currently there is little preparation for the increase in psychological problems, in both trauma and anxiety cases. The mental health care expenses of large scale events such as Hurricane Katrina in 2005, or Hurricane Irene in 2011, point dramatically to how the current estimated average annual U.S. mental health care [expenses are low] and lost productivity [is high]. The current estimated average annual level of more than $300 billion to provide mental health services and to accommodate the indirect costs such as lost work time in the United States will increase significantly as a direct result of the physical, economic, social and psychological effects of global warming and related incidents.16 The cost of these problems will be high in the U.S. and must be addressed at the community scale.

Fig. 6: areas that will be affected by desertification

Fig. 7: coastal areas that will experience more flooding

physical effects Lastly, climate change is most directly affecting the physical locations of communities. Rising sea levels are causing “gradual, progressive inundation and more rapid erosion of shorelines, coastal wetlands and coastal infrastructure.17” Climate change is also causing more intense storms and droughts, making some areas more prone to disaster and less economically dependable. The more vulnerable the population, the more difficult it will be for the community to adapt to these changes. Communities that cannot adapt, due to high costs or low feasibility, will be forced to move to safer locations. It is estimated that there will be 150 million “climate refugees,” or people forced to move because of climate change disasters, by 205018. The Environmental Justice Foundation states that: Today we are faced with a growing body of evidence demonstrating that climate change has a significant impact on the volume, duration, direction and types of human mobility that we see throughout the world. Involuntary displacement is one of the principal types of human mobility in response to climate change and, for the moment at least, dwarfs all others in volume. In the absence of adequate mitigation, adaptation, and protection mechanisms, current trends suggest this will only increase as the full implications of a changing climate unfold.19

Fig. 8: areas that will experience stronger tropical storms 15. National Wildlife Federation, Psychological Effects of Global Warming on the United States: And Why the U.S. Mental Health Care System Is Not Adequately Prepared, (Reston, VA: National Wildlife Federation, 2012), ii. 16. NWF, Psychological Effects of Global Warming, x. 17. CBO, Potential Impacts of Climate Change, 5. 18. Vidal, John. “Global Warming could create 150 million ‘climate refugees’ by 2050,” The Guardian, February 11, 2009. 19. Environmental Justice Foundation, “Forced Migration,” Environmental Justice Foundation, accessed November 1, 2013,


On the Horizon

Climate change has the power to affect all aspects of a community. With some communities having no option but to relocate, there must be a system to facilitate movement while keeping communities intact and maintaining a high quality of life.

How can communities survive? disaster resilience

“Tapping into what people love, their place attachment and identity, reminding people of their connectedness to each other and the non-human world...”

With an increase of storms and weather related disasters, how a community responds to these disasters is important. Disaster resilience is “the ability for a community to recover by means of its own resources.20” It can include concrete factors, such as flood protection, and intangible factors, such as community connectivity. How well a community weathers a storm or on-going negative climate changes depend on its vulnerability to the disaster and its resilience. The research by Cutter et al. indicates that “disaster impacts may be reduced through improved social and organizational factors such as increased wealth, the widespread provision of disaster insurance, the improvement of social networks, increased community engagement and participation and the local understanding of risk.21”


20. Cutter, Susan et al., “Disaster Resilience Indicators for Benchmarking Baseline Conditions,” Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management 7, no. 1 (2012), 1. 21. Cutter et al., “Disaster Resilience Indicators,” 5. 22. Moser, Susanne C. “Navigating the Political and Emotional Terrain of Adaptation: Community Engagement When Climate Change Comes Home,” in Successful Adaptation to Climate Change: Linking Science and Policy in a Rapidly Changing World, (London: Routledge, 2012), 5. 23. Moser, “Navigating the Political...,” 9. 24. Moser, “Navigating the Political...,” 9. 25. Cutter et al., “Disaster Resilience Indicators,” 9.

Also important to the future of many communities is their ability to adapt. As sea levels rise, deserts spread, and flooding increases, communities must be able to change the way they live or where they live to survive. In a study by Susanne C. Moser, she identified the outcomes from policy decisions desired by communities threatened by sea level rise. People faced with situations that demand drastic changes or complete removal want to end up with something better than they have, to keep the places and communities that they currently have, and to have tolerable living conditions22. Their attachment to the land they live on must be addressed. “Tapping into what people love, their place attachment and identity, reminding people of their connectedness to each other and the non-human world, and engaging citizens meaningfully in joint problem-solving that leads to tangible outcomes…23” A community that can survive in a constantly changing world, where the fluxes in the economy and the environment can be drastic, must be a community that has a plan to react and adapt to the changes. The plan should include “tactical strategies for the mediumterm, and plans for the inevitable, i.e. retreat in the long-term, should sea level rise turn out to be as severe as projected.24” The population should be educated on the issues at hand and more connected as a community. Factors such as sense of community, place attachment, and citizen participation are very important25. As Thomas Campanella writes in Urban Resilience and the Recovery of New Orleans, “… cities are more than the sum of their buildings. They are also thick

concatenations of social and cultural matter, and it is often this that endows a place with its defining essence and identity. It is one thing for a city’s buildings to be reduced to rubble; it is much worse for a city’s communal institutions and social fabric to be torn apart as well.26”

On the Horizon


examples of adaptation the green archipelago In many cities that have declining populations, most large scale plans that deal with population loss include increasing density of certain areas while letting other areas become more natural or be used for farming. One innovative plan is the Green Archipelago created for Berlin by O. M. Ungers and Rem Koolhaus. They suggest a group of “urban islands [that] have an identity in keeping with their history, social structure, and environmental characteristics.27” Each island would be a distinct self-sufficient community and they would all be linked together through a means of transportation. The areas left over would be allowed to return to their natural state, although Koolhaus suggests that the ‘natural grid’ could accommodate other things. “The Nature Grid would also accommodate the infrastructure of the Modern Age… typologies that rely not on place but on mobility. Such facilities would generate urban ‘tribes’ of Metropolitan gypsies…28” This plan ensures that areas are adequately dense for the provided services to be cost effective and for there to be a sense of community.

Fig. 9: diagram of the Green Archipelago proposal

the green dot plan After Katrina, there were many proposals on how to rebuild the city. Like many other cities that have experienced grave natural disasters, New Orleans was faced with how to rebuild efficiently and effectively. Similarly to the proposals for shrinking cities, these plans focused on creating density in areas and green space in less populated, lower lying areas. In New Orleans, this also has a direct relation to cutting the risk of natural disasters. Land that is higher should house the densely populated areas, while low lying areas can fade back into nature and become storm flooding buffers. The proposal by the Urban Land Institute, dubbed the ‘green dot’ plan, seems to be an inverse of Ungers and Koolhaus’s green archipelago. They recommend those areas with the most damage, or the lowest-lying areas, have the least amount of rebuilding. “Areas that sustained minimal damage should be encouraged to begin rebuilding immediately, while those with more extensive damage will need to evaluate the feasibility of reinvestment first…29” They proposed a government buy-up of these lots, or a lot swap for residents who wish to move to higher ground. There was a large amount of backlash for this proposal to “abandon lowlying sections” of the city30. Because of the strong association people have with their neighborhoods, the idea of abandoning them in favor of moving to higher, safer ground was unthinkable. As Fields states,

Fig. 10: propsed areas for green space to be used as flooding buffers

26. Campanella, Thomas J. “Urban Resilience and the Recovery of New Orleans,” Journal of American Planning Association 72, no. 2 (2006), 142. 27. Ungers, O. M. et al., The City in the City: Berlin: A Green Archipelago, (Baden: Lars Muller, 2013), 94. 28. Ungers et al., The City in the City, 18. 29. Urban Land Institute, New Orleans: A Strategy for Rebuilding, (Urban Land Institute, 2005) 13. 30. Fields, Billy. “Green Dots to Green Ways: Planning in the Age of Cliamte Change in Post Katrina New Orleans,” Journal of Urban Design 14, no 3. (2009), 333.

11 On the Horizon

“while the goal appears to be fairly benign and rational, the application of the environmental preservation framework into pre-existing neighborhoods would prove to be a significant political issue.31”

moving Newtok

Fig. 11: aerial view of Newtok, Alaska

The town of Newtok, Alaska is being slowly eroded away. It sits next to the Ninglick River as it empties into the Bering Sea. “It [the river] has been steadily eating away at the land, carrying off 100 feet or more some years, in a process moving at unusual speed because of climate change. Eventually all the villagers will have to leave, becoming America’s first climate change refugees.32” Similar to the towns on the Louisiana coast, Newtok residents are intricately attached to the land they live on and are “avid fisherman.33” Due to a land swap with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the community has gained land 9 miles away that they could relocate to34; however, the price of moving is high and estimated to be $130 to $80 million35. While they haven’t been able to secure all of the funding, in 2006 the Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development’s Division of Community Advocacy funded a grant to build a multi-use marine support facility36. There are other towns in Alaska and the United States that are facing similar problems but have little support from the local and federal government.

Louisiana’s coast land loss

31. Fields, “Green Dots to Green Ways,” 333. 32. Goldenberg, Suzanne. “America’s First Climate Refugees,” The Guardian, May 13, 2013. 33. Feifel, Kirtsten Rachel M. Gregg, “Relocacting the Village of Newtok, Alaska due to Coastal Erosion,” Cliamte Adaptation Knowledge Exchange, accessed November 1, 2013, .” 34. Feifel & Gregg, “Relocacting the Village...” 35. Goldenberg, “America’s First Climate Refugees” 36. Feifel & Gregg, “Relocacting the Village...” 37. CPRA, Louisiana’s Comprehensive Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast, (Baton Rouge: Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority of Louisiana, 2012)14. 38. Campanella, Richard. Bienville’s Dilemma: A Historical Geography of New Orleans, (Lafayette: Center for Louisiana Studies, 2008) 324. 39. Campanella, Bienville’s Dilemma 324. 40. IPCC, “Summary for Policymakers,” 12. 41. CPRA, Louisiana’s Comprehensive Master Plan, 20.

The impacts of climate change are being felt drastically on the Louisiana coast. As sea levels rise, the wetlands that make up much of the coast are eroding. Louisiana’s Comprehensive Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast says, “Louisiana is in the midst of a land loss crisis that has claimed 1,880 square miles of land since the 1930s…” with “the potential to lose up to an additional 1,750 square miles of land.37” The increase of more intense storms and hurricanes is accelerating this loss. During Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the coast lost up to 200 square miles in just two days38. This loss of land greatly increases the risk associated with tropical storms and flooding because “approximately every 2.7 linear miles of wetland loss allows on extra vertical foot of seawater to surge inland in the face of a tropical storm.39” The International Panel on Climate Change reported that it is very likely that coastal areas will be exposed to more risk (including erosion) and coastal wetlands will be negatively affected by climate change and sea level rise40. This is also dramatically affecting the economy in this area. The Louisiana coast holds “infrastructure that supplies 90% of the nation’s outer continental oils and gas, 20% of the nation’s annual waterborne commerce, [and] 26% (by weight) of the continental U.S. commercial fisheries landings.41”

On the Horizon


“Louisiana is in the midst of a land loss crisis that has claimed 1,880 square miles of land since the 1930s...�

Fig. 12: land loss with a one foot rise in sea level

13 On the Horizon

the levee walls While there are levee walls that protect some parts of southeastern Louisiana, the outlying neighborhoods are facing the daunting threats of climate change without protection. “While the government is spending $14.6 billion on a risk-reduction system for most of metropolitan New Orleans, hundreds of thousands of people outside the new levees, gates and floodwalls remain essentially defenseless.42” Many communities outside the levee will experience a continual increase in flooding events. During Hurricane Isaac (a category 1 storm in 2012), Braithwaite, Delacroix, and Shell Beach were flooded due to their lack of protection by the levees43. “For new projects, the Corps, working on a limited budget, runs a ‘cost-benefit’ formula, calculating the potential damage to an area vs. the cost to build around it.44” Because the land area over which the population is spread, it is not economical to build flood protection around them all. Communities living outside the levee walls must decide whether they wish to stay or to move to more protected areas. Those who are able to move will be the first to leave, leaving behind the most vulnerable groups (the elderly and the poor).

the Biggert-Waters act

42. Snell, John. “Outside the Walls: People living outside new levess fight for their own protection,” FOX8: WVUE New Orleans, last updated May 13, 2013, accessed November 1, 2013, story/22200350/people-living-outside-new-orleans-newlevees-fight-for-their-own-protection. 43. Jervis, Rick. “In Louisiana, who gets to live behing the levees?” USA Today, August 30, 2012. 44. Jervis, “In Louisiana...” 45. H20 Partners Inc., “BW12,” accessed November 1, 2013,, 1:30. 46. Gonzalez, “Grandfathering Gone for many: Actuarial rates will apply for new or lapsed policies, business structures and second homes,” The St. Bernard Voice, February 8, 2013. 47. H20 Partners, “BW12”

The Biggert-Waters Act is also creating a reason to move for people in exposed regions. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) helps protect Americans when their properties are damaged during a flood. “Floods are America’s most catastrophic natural hazard and it causes on average almost $3 billion in damage annually.45” The damage has been increasing due to climate change. To continue to be able to provide insurance to Americans, the NFIP has to adjust some policies to reflect the current and future trends of increased risk. The Biggert-Waters Act “include[s] elimination of subsidized rates and grandfathered rates on properties; the revision of rates in Special Flood Hazard Areas (coastal floodplains, floodplains along major rivers, and areas subject to flooding from water collection in low-lying areas) over a five-year period to reflect actual risk.46” This means huge increases on flood insurance for those living outside the New Orleans levees. Once again, the most vulnerable parts of the population will be the ones who cannot afford the increases or the modifications to their homes.47

On the Horizon


“While the government is spending $14.6 billion on a risk-reduction system for most of metropolitan New Orleans, hundreds of thousands of people outside the new levees, gates and floodwalls remain essentially defenseless.�

Fig. 13: existing levees protecting the greater New Orleans area

Moving inside the levee walls

15 On the Horizon

moving communities

80000 60000 50000 40000 30000 20000

Hurricane Katrina


St. Bernard


10000 0

Fig. 14: population change in St. Bernard and Plaquemines Parishes from 2005 to 2012

To reduce the costs of protecting and providing insurance for all the residents of southeastern Louisiana, areas within the levee walls need to be transformed into new centers for communities to relocate. Cities such as Houma and LaPlace, that lack flood protection, could benefit from relocating inside the New Orleans metropolitan levee system. With the increased density the population influx would create, the community would be more disaster resilient and more able to adapt to climate change. There are a few possibilities in how this mass movement could be funded. The Louisiana Department of Economic Development could begin to fund the movement to decrease the large impact the loss of those communities would be to the Louisiana economy. As is stated earlier, the Louisiana coast supports a large portion of the energy and shipping markets. The people that live in areas that are vulnerable to sea level rise, also support these markets. The plan could also be funded by the federal government for similar reasons.

St. Bernard and Plaquemines St. Bernard and Plaquemines parishes have lost a lot of people since Hurricane Katrina. From 2005 to 2006, the population in St. Bernard went from 64,951 to 11,13548. While the parish has been gaining population for the last 6 years, in 2012 there was still 35.9% decrease in population since 200549. Similarly, Plaquemines parish’s population dropped from 28,549 to 18,150 from 2005 to 2006. In 2012 the population had stabilized at 23,921, a 16.2% decrease from pre-Katrina levels50. Parts of these parishes extend to the Gulf Coast and are low-lying wetlands. They face an imminent threat from sea level rise and increased tropical storms. They have also experienced a decrease in population due to previous disasters. The residents left unprotected are most likely the elderly, the poor, or those with strong attachment to the land. There are about 1,200 residents that are living beyond the levee walls in the southeastern part of Louisiana51. Not only is a lot of this land slowly subsiding every year, the land is being encroached by the gulf due to sea level rise. With sea level predicted to rise .81 feet over the next 50 years, most of the land will be completely gone52.

central hubs 48. Waller, Mark. “Hurricane Katrina Eight Years Later, a Statistical Snapshot of the New Orleans Area,” The TimesPicayune, August 28, 2013. 49. Waller, “Hurricane Katrina Eight Years Later” 50. Waller, “Hurricane Katrina Eight Years Later” 51. US Census Bureau, “American Fact Finder” 52. CPRA, LA’s Comprehensive Master Plan

A town center will be designed near the most southwestern part of the levee along Louisiana 46. The center will provide support for the intended increase in population as the area fills in with residents of the low-lying parts of St. Bernard and Plaquemines parish. A complete plan will create neighborhoods around this central hub. The center will increase the disaster resilience by providing spaces that can educate the public about climate, provide economic support through

On the Horizon


Cities such as Houma and LaPlace, that lack flood protection, could benefit from relocating inside the New Orleans metropolitan levee system. Mandeville

South Baton Rouge Plaquemine




St Gabriel Geismar


Eden Isle


New Orleans East

Reserve Laplace Convent


Gentilly Viavant Kenner Metarie RiverRidge New Orleans Chalmette Harahan Algiers Avondale

Norco Hannville Luling

Marrero Timberlane Woodmere

Violet St Bernard




Morgan City



Gray Bayou Cane


inside the levee open area inside the levee concentrated population outside of the levee proposed new town centers

Lockport Larose Cut Off

Galliano Golden Meadow

Fig. 15: areas that are not protected by the levees will have the opportunity to move to a more pretected area

17 On the Horizon

agriculture and fishing, and help the elderly population stay connected. Also provided will be a health center that will focus on providing basic health services and mental health services. The location of the center will allow for easy access to areas beyond the levee. This way the community will be able to keep its sense of place. The community will be able to have decreased flood insurance rates, increased protection from storms, and retain its quality of life.

precedent analysis

19 On the Horizon

Berlin: A Green Archipelago O.M. Ungers, Rem Koolhaas, Peter Riemann, and Florian Hertweck Berlin, Germany 1976

Fig. 16: “islands” within Berlin

Fig. 17: example of one of the islands

In this urban scale design, Ungers (with the help of students including Rem Koolhaus) proposes a ‘green archipelago’ plan for the city of Berlin. The defined territory of Berlin is very important politically similar to the border the levee creates, but the population was decreasing after the wall was built. The proposal says two opposite actions need to happen. The thriving parts of the city need to be supported and the shrinking parts of the city need to be destroyed. This would create a web of centers in the middle of forests, fields and other greenery. Koolhaas describes this as the Natural Grid. The city streets would be left behind and could support systems apart from the city, such as ‘urban gypsies.’ The pockets of dense area would be connected by public transportation. Essentially, the city would become a cluster of islands (an archipelago) of towns/villages that make up Berlin. Each dense area would be a distinct entity, with its own culture and significance. Concentrating the people of Berlin would allow the city to use its budget more effectively and affect a larger amount of people. In Figure 18 one can see how the concentration of the population would change if the Green Archipelago plan was implemented. The plan would also allow for more space to become green space. This particular precedent emphasizes the importance of density for the effectiveness of the services provided to a city’s population. It also shows the importance of place in the making of these new dense location. Because the each new city within the city will have its own identity, the residents of those places are more likely to agree with the city plan. It is also more likely that each small piece of the city will be resilient because of their sense of place. Lastly, the addition of the Nature Grid gives the city and its residents some flexibility. It is important that both the urban plan and the residents can adapt to fit each other’s needs.

On the Horizon

green space

potential green space

population density

proposed population density

populated areas

proposed populated areas


Fig. 18

Urban Water Plan

21 On the Horizon

Waggoner and Ball New Orleans, LA 2012

Fig. 19: subsidence potential


drainage canal


space for more water storage

Fig. 20: section of potential drainage canal to increase local interaction with water

Fig. 21: aerial perspective of potential drainage canal

New Orleans like many other cities around the world is facing the problem of sea-level rise and subsidence. This means that a solution to deal with an influx in water is needed. Waggoner & Ball propose a comprehensive network of drainage canals and permeable surfaces to reduce the intensity of flooding during heavy rain events. By increasing the amount of water storage within the city, flooding should be reduced because the water will drain to a closer area rather than being pumped to Lake Pontchartrain. An increase in drainage canals will also help lower the amount of flooding in the New Orleans area. The increase in water infrastructure around the city would help increase the permeability of the city and would create more time for the pumps stationed around the city to remove water during heavy rainfalls. The proposed infrastructure is shown in Figure 22. In addition to proposing an increase in water infrastructure, the Urban Water Plan would also increase the city’s interaction with water. While the city is surrounded by water on all sides (the Gulf of Mexico, the Mississippi River, and Lake Pontchartrain) water is scarcely seen in most neighborhoods. The existing drainage canals are also blocked off by tall levee walls. The proposal by Waggoner and Ball would create canals and water storage that is easily accessible to the public and would become an amenity to the neighborhood. To do this, the plan uses a combination of soft and hard edges that allow the water to rise in times of heavy rain and fall in times of little rain fall. This precedent is important because of its large and small scale integration of water. Because New Orleans is sinking and sea levels are rising, water will be ever more important. Any projects proposed in the New Orleans area should be aware of these problems and ensure that the project does not exasperate the problem.

On the Horizon


proposed drainage proposed water storage protected area existing levees Fig. 22: proposed drainage and storage of water in the greater New Orleans area

23 On the Horizon

Water Proving Ground Lewis Tsurumaki Lewis New York, NY 2010

Fig. 23: aerial perspective

Fig. 24: aerial perspective

Fig. 25: plan proposal

MoMA ( The Museum of Modern Art in New York) held an exhibition after the destruction from hurricane Sandy. The exhibition, “Rising Currents,” included this design and proposal by Lewis Tsurumaki Lewis. The site is focused on the Liberty State Park, “a former rail yard constructed as a series of landfills.” They propose the man-made coastline to be rearranged and cut into to increase its length by a factor of 10. The new coast would show the changes in tide by creating shallow sloped edges that allow that water to flood some areas. “This complex edge generates a more resilient buffer to storm surge and coastal flooding.” Similar to the Urban Water Plan by Waggoner and Ball, this proposal is essentially decreasing the risk of sever flooding new Liberty State Park. By allowing the ocean to penetrate further into the land, returning more to its natural state, the project would increase the water storage area and thus reduce flood risk. The plan includes overlapping areas for recreation, agriculture, remediation, preservation, and research. The areas and program would allow the coast line and the coastal area to become a multifaceted space that is used by many communities and people in the neighboring areas. Most of the programmed areas are open and there is not much building. The area along the coast would then be much more natural and able to handle storm surges and heavy rainfalls much easier than completely built on blocks.

On the Horizon



agriculture preserve remediation

aquaculture research

existing coast proposed coast

Fig. 26: propsed coastline with overlapping land uses

Moving Newtok

25 On the Horizon

Newtok City Council Newtok, AK 2005-present

Newtok, Alaska is soon to become the home of the United States’ first climate refugees. The village sits near the Ninglick River. It is being eroded away very quickly and the process is being increase by climate change. As the permafrost is melting, the land is less stable and more easily washed away when the river floods. The flooding, as seen in Figure 28, can cover most of the land around the town. Because they will no longer be able to live in their low-lying, current village, the townspeople are now planning to move the entire community to higher ground about 9 miles away. The town has been helped by various federal and state organizations; however, they have still not generated enough money to complete the move. The US Fish and Wildlife Service helped the town find the land for the relocation and sold the land to them. Ninglick River Ninglick River Fig. 27: aerial view of Newtok and the Ninglick River The Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Alaska Mainland Newtok Development’s Division of Community Advocacy has also helped the Newtok Flood - September 22, 2005 These maps show the extent of a flood which occured at Newtok Ninglick River town in the initial planning phases and funding for the dock. The on September 22, 2005. The floodwaters completely encircled the village, effectively making it an island for several days. Several Bai houses were only connected to the village via temporarily floating rd I town has created a planning group that leads design and ensures that n le boardwalks. t The data seen here were gathered during a visit to Newtok on Nelson Island the community has a say in the directing the planning process is going. March 9, 2006. Residents indicated on aerial photos the extent of flooding around and within their village. Meters 0 125 250 750 1,000 The plan for the 500 new town includes a town center on the end that is closest to the ocean. Because the town and its people are dependent on fishing, the location of the town center near the docks is important. Also the isolation of the town requires that the new plan includes a power plant and a water treatment plant. These services will be somewhat new to the residents, and will help increase the quality of life for the Newtok residents. The planned elderly housing is nearest to the town center. This will help the older villagers to stay connected with the community. The housing and the space for future housing Ninglick River Fig. 28: aerial view of the 2005 Ninglick River flood wraps around the town center, as seen in Figure 29. eptember 22, 2005 While the plan for moving Newtok includes most services and d at Newtok encircled the community spaces that are necessary for a community, the plan seems . Several arily floating to be spread out an unnecessary amount. Because the community is ewtok on the small, a more compact formation would increase the connectivity of Meters 0 125 250 500 750 1,000 the town and allow for easier pedestrian access. G:\EN-CW\EN-CW-ER\Wilson\Newtok\Newtok_Flood.mxd



On the Horizon


community buildings

community gym dock

power plant

washeteria/ water treatment


pulic safety

future growth

tribal hall store

church clinic


teacher housing

post ofďŹ ce library

elderly housing


Fig. 29: planned town after Newtok moves to a higher rocky outcrop

27 On the Horizon

Village V/K 3C Peter Barber Architects Wiltshire, UK 2013

Fig. 30: aerial sketch of the condensed village and surrounding feilds

Fig. 31: plan of meeting house locateed at the center of the village

The Village V/K 3C was designed to be a “rough draft for a decent neighborhood.� It is set in the Wiltshire countryside in the midst of farming fields. The village takes up a 70 meter by 70 meter (about 230 feet by 230 feet) square. The strict settlement boundary ensures that the town is compact and connected. It seems that the town will never become sprawling and that it would be easy to rely on and give help to neighbors. The closeness of the community is increased by the slightly large building at the center of the town. The building houses the meeting house where the villagers can congregate. It takes a prominent spot opening onto the village square at the center of the community. The houses would all be made from mud that would come from the surrounding area. The people who live their would work in the surrounding fields and live off of the produce grown in the surrounding fields. The town would be deeply rooted in its place and the community would be deeply connected to the land. The layout of the city is created by about 50 differently sized mud houses that open onto small alleyways. The pattern of the paths is used to create the different sized housing units. If the village was at a larger scale, the form could be confusing and disorienting for visitors. The centrality of the plan, not its complexity, is import in many town plans.

On the Horizon


town hall

strict settlement boundary

Fig. 32: town layout with central meeting house highlighted

29 On the Horizon

New Suburbanism Lewis Tsurumaki Lewis not site specific 2005

Fig. 33: perspective of housing units above a big box store

Fig. 34: section perpsective through the store and housing units

Fig. 35: perspective showing residential entrance and retail loading dock

Looking at the typical layout of a suburb, Lewis Tsurumaki Lewis concluded that there are two main components: the shopping mall or the big box store and the single-family home. Their plan for a “New Suburbanism� tries to incorporate the two into one building to reduce the land and resources used. The retail component is embedded into the ground with the housing units sitting gently on top. The retail would consist of big box stores. The residential part is composed of single family units that have front and backyards like a typical suburban home. Stacking the two program elements on top of each other essentially doubles the density of the suburb. With a higher density of buildings at certain points, more area can be left in its natural state. Suburbs negatively affect wildlife and the environment because of the large amount of resources they use up and the sprawling amount of land they span. This plan proposes a way to limit the negative effects of the suburbs while keeping the same benefits of the suburban home.

On the Horizon

d resi

n al u i t n e


i ts

bi g

re sto x bo

Fig. 36: axon showing the placement of residential units above the big box retail space, creating a plinth

31 On the Horizon

FLOAT House Morphosis New Orleans, LA 2006

Fig. 37: side view of the FLOAT house

Fig. 38: street view

Fig. 39: rendering and plan

To begin the rebuilding in the heavily devastated 9th Ward, Make It Right (MIR) was started. The program had local and internationally famous architects to design houses for the neighborhood. As the residents returned they could choose which design to be built on their lot. Morphosis designed one of the houses to be able to float and be completely self-relient in case of another destructive storm. Morphosis designed the FLOAT house in the shotgun typology with the hopes that it would be be green, affordable, and able to float. The house uses solar power generation, rainwater collection, and efficient appliances to reduce the raw materials that are needed to reside there. These resources would also help the house continue to be habitable if it was off of the city’s grid. The main body of the house can be assembled off-site and delivered via a flat-bed trailer, making a type of module that could be mass produced. This process also decrease the on-site construction time. To make the project able to float, the foundation includes ‘guide posts.’ These are attached through the body of the house. In times of high floods, it is assumed that the building would rise up with the water level. This would help reduce the risk of flooding and damage to the house. The concept of buildings that move in relation to the water around them is important in areas with wide-spread flooding. Most buildings in New Orleans and the surrounding areas are do not interact with water. The FLOAT is directly affected by water. It moves with the height of flood waters. It also collects rain water to use it in the everyday functions of the house.

32 On the Horizon

water collection

modular living space

guide posts


Fig. 40: exploded axon


Green Mosque

35 On the Horizon

Oktme, Imren, Izarnotzky Pewaukee, WI 2010

This project, that was done for a competition about reusing existing buildings, combines community aspects and religious spaces to create a space that is for the whole community. The prayer space is the dominant form, with the community spaces wrapping around it. It is also raised above the other spaces to separate the religious spaces from the other spaces. The gaps between programmed spaces is converted into a courtyard. The open spaces near the soup kitchen are vegetable gardens which supply fresh produce to the kitchen. The combination and arrangement of the program creates an inviting space that opens to the public.

Fig. 41: central primary/mental health courtyar care clinicspace

mosque lecture room library soup kitchen community center vegetable garden

childcare center primary/mental primary/mental health health care care clinic clinic library Fig. 42: light quality of mosque childcare childcare center center community rooms

library library food services

Fig. 43:program sizes


grocery/market grocery/market community gardens

soup kitchen library lecture room

elderly housing food food services services

vegetable garden community center

community community rooms rooms grocery/market

Fig. 44:program relationships

8,000 sq. ft. 3,000 sq. ft. 4,000 sq. ft. 4,000 sq. ft. 3,000 sq. ft. 4,000 sq. ft.

Adamsville Health Center

On the Horizon


Stanley Beaman & Sears Atlanta, GA 2012

This health center is located in an under served areas of Atlanta. The building houses primary care, behavioral health, women and children’s clinics accompanied with child care services and a workforce community center. The center hopes to create “holistic idea of wellness and a positive self-image for a challenged community.” The program is configured arond a simple single-loaded corridor with a double height verticle circulation space. The women’s clinic and child care services are found on the same side of the building. This is to allow women to get medical services even when they have to care for children. Although the planning of the building is simplistic, the combination of program components creates an interesting community center that can help better the neighborhood.

Primary care and behavioral health Women, children, and infants Childcare

8,300sq. ft. 3,400 sq. ft. 2,000 sq. ft.

Fig. 46: entrance to the health center

play area 700 sq. ft. staff lounge 500 sq. ft. bathrooms 500 sq. ft.

Workforce center Dental

3,500 sq. ft. 1,600 sq. ft.

waiting area 100 sq. ft. exam rooms 400 sq. ft. lab rooms 350 sq. ft. administration 350 sq. ft.

900 sq. ft. 500 sq. ft.

Fig. 45: program relationships


childcare dental

women’s clinic

primary/mental health care clinic workforce center

primary health care clinic

Shell space Breakroom

childcare center Fig. 47: program sizes

Disaster Prevention Center

37 On the Horizon

109 Architectes Istanbul, Turkey 2011

This project, that was created for an international competition, creates a disaster prevention center based off of the idea of networks. Because communication is important for safety during disasters, the programmatic spaces are arranged in a network that create a “series of interconnecting nodes.” The program includes areas to learn how to survive disasters, such as the earthquake simulation area, and emergency shelters for protection during disasters. The building aims to prevent some outcomes from natural disasters via education and emergency services. Using a combination of these elements ensures that the complex is useful at all times, not just during emergencies.

Experimentation Room 645 sq. ft. Training Performance Evaluation Section 525 sq. ft. Exhibition Hall 2,100 sq. ft. Emergency Communication Experiment Room 350 sq. ft. Fire Prevention Game 350 sq. ft. Orientation Stage 1,000 sq. ft. Planetarium 3,250 sq. ft. Children’s Section 800 sq. ft. Medical Room 425 sq. ft. 4D Video Display Room 1,000 sq. ft. Earthquake Simulation Section 800 sq. ft. 3 Seminar-Training Halls 1,000x3=3,000 sq. ft. Conference Hall 5,000 sq. ft. Library 1,000 sq. ft. First Aid Training Room 1,000 sq. ft. Rainstorm Simulation Section 1,000 sq. ft. Fire FIghting Training Room 650 sq. ft. Smoke Maze Room 1,000 sq. ft. Administrative Offices 4,300 sq. ft.

Fig. 48: pathway showing pixelation

primary/mental health care clinic

Fig. 49: aerial with view of landscape childcare center


Fig. 50: program sizes elderly housing

offices seminar rooms and conferencce hall


planetarium exhibition, orientation stage, library

4D video display room

children’s room

food services

experimentation and evaluation medical room and first aid training simulation rooms

emergency communication fire fighting training

community rooms

Fig. 51: program relationships

program narrative

On the Horizon


Fig. 52: program relationships

library childcare

grocery store/ market food services classrooms

primary health clinic

elderly housing

The program will provide services to a vulnerable community. It will become an attraction point for residents in St. Bernard parish to move from the unprotected area outside of the levee to the relatively safe area within the levee. The population of St. Bernard has already decreased in population since Katrina. The people that remain are normally under served parts of the population. The center will provide them with basic health services, educational services, food services, childcare services, and a community center. In the middle of this will be elderly housing. This center, which is aimed at the disenfranchised, will encourage people to move nearer to it. It is estimated that around 1,000 people would move to the town from the vulnerable areas outside of the levee walls. Most households will be able to build off of the existing block structure of the small town. Because the connectedness of elderly people to their communities is important for health, the elderly housing would put them at the center of the community. Also, sometime of food services will be provided to ensure that the entire community has a high quality of life. The population is also very vulnerable to natural disasters so the center will provide a library and other services that will educate the community about how to stay safe. In addition, the center can be converted into an emergency shelter when hurricanes or major flooding events occur. The vegetable gardens and outdoors recreation (which could be fishing) will help solidify the community by providing a land-based way to provide produce to the community. The center will be servicing the community of St. Bernard but served by the professionals from the New Orleans area. The center will also be offgrid to remain independent from the New Orleans metropolitan area.

Fig. 53: program sizes

39 On the Horizon

Elderly Housing:

18,500 sq. ft.

The elderly housing will include 25 single units and 12 doubles. The common space will be shared with the community. primary/mental health care clinic

childcare center

Primary Health Clinic:

9,000 sq. ft.

This facility would include a waiting room for patients. Exam rooms would be provided for regular check-ups and mental health care assessments. Lab rooms would also be provided for regular tests. There would be a few offices provided for administrative purposes and for the main doctors. It will be located near the elderly housing to benefit the aging population.

Childcare Center: library

2,000 sq. ft.

This center will serve the patients visiting the health care center and the staff of the health care center. It is assumed that there will be a maximum of 20 children present.

Library: community rooms

The library would be able to provide basic services to the community. It will serve the ~1,000 people in the area.

Classrooms/Community Rooms:

food services


elderly housing

4 x 750= 3,000 sq. ft.

These rooms can be used for commununity programs that will try to create a strong community network between all residents. Also, the classes can be used for emergency aid classes to better inform the community and increase their disaster resilience. The rooms will be also become the common rooms for the elderly to better connect them to the community.

Food Services

3,750 sq. ft.

This component would be similar to a soup kitchen by providing food for the elderly and poor. It would serve meals to all residents in the elderly housing and to other members of the community in need. The produce from the vegetable gardens would be used.

Market/Grocery Store community gardens

3,000 sq. ft.

5,000 sq. ft.

The store would sell local produce from the gardens and nearby fisheries to the ~1000 residents.

Vegetable Gardens: The gardens would provide a small income for the center while also continuing the community’s tradition of living off of the land.

Outdoor Recreation: outdoor recreation

Fig. 54: program types

Outdoor recreation area will be provided to continue the land based activities the community does.

site analysis

41 On the Horizon

population dynamics 988460 1,520 737 566 761 977 592 673 739 551 561 1,759 771 2,487 1,011


1,436 1,149 772

1,142 637


population size


0’ 5,000’ 10,000’ 20,000’


Fig. 55: population per census block in 2010 The population density becomes less and less as the neighborhoods move away from the city. The population drops dramatically on the outside of the levee walls, with the population mainly focused on the banks of the Mississippi River and other bayous. St Bernard Parish had a population of 67,229 in 2000. It dropped to 40,655 in 2009. However, there has been a slight increase over the past couple of years.

0’5,000’ 10,000’ 20,000’

Fig. 56: social vulnerability index “The Social Vulnerability Index (SOVI™) measures the social vulnerability of block groups to environmental hazards. The index is a comparative metric that facilitates the examination of the differences in social vulnerability among block groups. The categories are high, medium and low. The areas outside of the levee are in a high vulnerability block.


5,000’ 10,000’ 20,000’


% over 65

On the Horizon

Fig. 57: percentage of population over the age of 65 This map shows that outside the levee walls the mean age of the population is higher. The percent of the population over 65 in that area is over 16%, while most areas within the walls are about %10. This indicates that the areas with an older population are decreasing in population.

restaurant retail 0’

5,000’ 10,000’ 20,000’

grocery Fig. 58: commercial buildings

This map shows where different commercial buildings are located. The most are located in the more densely populated areas. This ensures that they have a large enough customer base to stay in business.

43 On the Horizon


earthen levee levee 0’ 5,000’ 10,000’ 20,000’ Fig. 59: levees This map shows the levees that are protecting the greater New Orleans area. There is a large, 3’ wide levee that surrounds the area. The levee protects from river levels, seal level, and storm surge. A smaller earthen levee includes another layer of protection from the swamp land to the north.

0’5,000’ 10,000’ 20,000’ Fig. 60: built area The areas that are built on are highlighted. It emphasizes where neighborhoods are concentrated. The built area decreases as you move away from the city. It is also concentrated at the main roads and along river or bayou banks..

On the Horizon



5,000’ 10,000’ 20,000’ Fig. 61: main roads The larger the line, the more used the road is. The system of grids is consolidated to one road that people live on as one passes outside of the levee.

site location

Fig. 62: site location The site is located at the edge of the protected area within the levee. This area is sparsely populated. It will allow for a ~1,000 new residents and a new town center. The closeness to the levee walls will allow for the community members to continue their jobs and recreation that relies on the land beyond the levee.

small Louisiana river towns

45 On the Horizon

In many Louisiana town’s the river’s edge plays an important part of the culture and town planning. In Figures 62-64, it is clear that to see a pattern emerge. Closest to the river, and parallel to the river, is the “main street.” This street is the area containing the most commercial space. The next street is the axis of governmental, community and civic spaces. Sometimes this area also includes churches and other quasi-public spaces. In New Iberia (Figure 63), the row of churches is closer to the river than the civic axis. After the town center, the blocks become more residential. In all 3 towns, the opposite side of the river is only residential. The bridge connecting both sides of the river is always near the town center. While looking at the proposed site in St. Bernard parish, two edges become apparent. In Figure 65, one can see the existing infrastructure with the site occupying the space between the two levees. Like the river towns, the proposed layout would have the commercial space nearest the edge (or levee). Followed by the community and governmental program, which includes the proposed program. The program combines elderly housing, a market, and a library. Because it spans so many programs, the site and the program will be able to connect the separate parts of the town center.



commercial museum

event center sheriff

offices restaurant store store

gov’t office post office

mayors office bank rsvp

courthouse museum catholic church episcopal church chamber of commerce historical society library

Fig. 63: Natchitoches, LA town center



offices store restaurant restaurant store store store store store store museum



On the Horizon








office offices

cemetary store

county seat




store store store store

county seat

offices offices store plaza

restaurant store restaurant

art league gov’t office

catholic church

store store store store store store




baptist church

restaurant store restaurant

theater museum



Fig. 64: New Iberia, LA town center churches




school board



hotel event center school

church bank

church fbi

bank bank store



gov’t office





offices store store store restaurant mayor’s office offices

post office



bus station


offices stores chamber of commerce

offices warehouse

Fig. 65: Alexandria, LA town center

47 On the Horizon

existing context sections: how houses engage the water

Fig. 66: house as boat shed

Fig. 67: house oriented towards canal

Fig. 68: house seperated from canal by LA 46

On the Horizon


49 On the Horizon

Fig 69: bus line in St. Bernard parish

On the Horizon


existing site infrastructure




lot lines Fig. 70: existing site exploded perspective

51 On the Horizon

Fig. 72: perspective A, view of the highway going through the levee gates



Fig. 71: perspective locations


Fig. 73: perspective B, view of an empty lot near the site

Fig. 74: perspective C, view from on top of the levee

Fig. 75: perspective D, view of the bayou along Bayou Road

design proposal

53 On the Horizon

Fig 76: town plan

On the Horizon


Fig 77: pathway level plan

55 On the Horizon


phase 1

phase 2

phase 3

phase 4

phase 5

Fig 78: phasing diagram

On the Horizon


pedestrian pathway

program large commercial/industrial commercial existing town house apartment single room temporary elderly housing town center single family house

green space agriculture forested commercial private public

Fig 79: exploded site

57 On the Horizon

Fig 80: section through residential street

Fig 81: section through main road and pathway

On the Horizon


potential infill and refuge

building mass elderly housing, health center and library commercial transit hub fishing co-op and market occupiable roof

screening vertical structure cross bracing polycarbonate

pedestrian pathway

ground floor

parking marsh grass to collect water wooden pathway/ docks

Fig 82: exploded town center

59 On the Horizon

Fig 83: section through transit hub and fishing co-op

Fig 84: section through town center

On the Horizon


61 On the Horizon

Fig 85: looking towards the town center

Fig 88: from LA 46

Fig 86: looking over the levee, towards the horizon

On the Horizon


Fig 87: view from the elderly housing

63 On the Horizon

Fig 89: underneath pathway in town center

On the Horizon


65 On the Horizon

On the Horizon



conclusion The Louisiana coast is a harsh financial, climatic, and disasterprone environment. This project looks at how to move the people living in this soon-to-be inhospitable land to an area that is protected by the New Olreans metropolitan levee system. Creating a new town center that will develop density around it can be done by providing amenities that will attract residents to move towards them. The center that is proposed will provide health care services, housing, and other community services. These program elements will provide an attractor for the new town center. The programming, planning, and design of this central hub in St. Bernard parish will be able to continue and nurture the sense of community already present in the areas outside of the levee. The project will be rooted in its natural habitat, similar to the jobs, careers, and hobbies of the populations outside the levee. By keeping the culture and wishes of the potential of residents in mind, a central hub can be created that will maintain their quality of life while providing protection. In all, the center will help the area become more disaster resilient, self reliant, and efficient. The proposal could be repeated across the nation and the world as climate refugees become more and more common.


annotated bibliography El Nasser, Haya. “As older cities shrink, some reinvent themselves.” USA Today (New York), December 27, 2006. http:// cities-cover_x.htm (accessed October 7, 2012). This article discusses the problems that have been facing many US cities for the past 50 years. El Nasser says, “About 6 million people fewer live in 16 of the 20 cities that were largest in 1950.” This means that the problem of a shrinking city is found all over the US and around the world. It is emphasized that a shrinking city does not have to be a blighted or declining city. The article then starts to explain some current examples of how cities are dealing with this drop in population, specifically Richmond, Virginia. They include examples of vacant areas being turned into “parks, wildlife refuges or bike paths.” Also, giving tax breaks or incentives for relocation instead of rehabilitation is aimed at adding density to the still thriving parts of the city. The article cites examples where declining areas have become assets, not burdens, in their respective cities. Hollander, Justin B. “Can a City Successfully Shrink? Evidence from survey data on neighborhood quality.” Urban Affairs Review 47 (2011): 129-141. It is normally assumed that areas with declining populations will also have a lower quality of life. This article looks into that question by examining survey answers from 38 different US cities. The findings do not support the common perceptions by having a wide mix of responses for perceptions of quality of life in declining areas. This shows that there is no direct linkage between shrinking populations and low quality of life. The data showing that quality of life does not decrease with population size proves that areas can successfully shrink and that growth and redevelopment are not the only answers that the blight and vacancy problems faced by many American cities. Okrent, Daniel, and Steven Gray. “The Future of Detroit: How to Shrink a City.” Time Magazine (New York City), November 11, 2012. Detroit is probably the most notorious shrinking city in the US. The story of Betty Corley, whose house is now the only one standing on her block that used to have 26 houses, is an example of the problems Detroit faces. Okrent and Gray run through six ideas put forward to save the city. One idea is to abandon failing neighborhoods so the population can move to more dense areas. These areas could then be linked with transit lines to deter isolation,

per another idea. Vacant lots and neighborhoods can be turned back into their natural state, while abandoned homes in more populated areas can be part of an urban homesteading program. The infrastructure projects will help bring jobs to the market and attract new residents to the city, increasing diversity and quality of life. Detroit is meeting resistance to this plan from residents who aren’t willing to leave their neighborhoods because of nostalgia, age, and dependence on others. Oswalt, Phillip, ed. Shrinking Cities. Ostfildern-Ruit: Hatje Cantz, 2006. Shrinking Cities is a research project that has been made into an exhibition and publication. It is the project of the German Federal Cultural Foundation. It aims to look into why cities are shrinking and what can be done to make them shrink smartly. With the first publication they want to, “confront the stereotyped image of the shrinking city as a cultural and social wasteland with examples of the civic and cultural potential of these cities.” They book includes five case studies, Japan; Detroit; Manchester/Liverpool; Ivanovo; and Halle/Leipzig. Looking all over the world for answers and inspiration, Shrinking Cities compiles information and data into a source that will help guide the many declining cities of the world.

Sorensen, Andre. “Livable Cities in Japan: Population Ageing and Decline as Vectors of Change.” International Planning Studies 11, no. 3-4 (2006): 225-242. Sorensen looks into the extreme decline and ageing that is altering the urban landscape of Japan. Specifically, he looks at how these factors combine with other Japanese urban qualities, such as their low proportion of public space and “legacy of urban built form.” He explores how ‘livable’ cities can be created and maintained in the conditions found in Japan currently. Four different types of demographic structure are explained: rural towns where most young people have emigrated to urban areas, medium regional cities that are declining at a slower rate, metropolitan areas (besides Tokyo) that had population growth until the 1970s and are now shrinking, and the Tokyo area that is still experiencing growth.

Ungers, Oswald Mathias, Rem Koolhaas, Peter Riemann, and Florian Hertweck. The City in the City: Berlin: A Green Archipelago. Baden: Lars Muller, 2013. This proposal for the city of Berlin is one of the first plans for a shrinking city that includes large swaths of green space. Similar to New Orleans (because of surrounding swamps, the Mississippi River, and Lake Ponchartrain), Berlin has permanent boundary. It is within this boundary that Ungers proposes there be a series of urban islands that are culturally distinct and self-reliant. The city of Berlin would become an archipelago of urban islands with a “Nature Grid” filling in the gaps. It is mentioned several times that the individual islands will need to be ‘completed’ to become islands. This is where the focus on self-sustaining ‘villages’ comes from. Urban Land Institute, New Orleans: A Strategy for Rebuilding, 2005. The Urban Land Institute published this document shortly after hurricane Katrina. It is a plan to redevelop the city in a sustainable way. They suggest that areas with the most extensive damage should “evaluate the feasibility of reinvestment first and then proceed in expeditiously in a manner that will ensure the health and safety of the residents of each neighborhood.” They also state that the residents who cannot rebuild should be given fair compensation. Essentially they are proposing that the redevelopment should focus on certain areas of the city to concentrate people and businesses. Areas with the most damage would become places to help with storm water management. This example is similar to some ideas that I also propose, making the responses to it pertinent to my thesis.

bibliography Allweil, Yael. “Shrinking Cities: Like a Slow-Motion Katrina.” Place 19.1 (2007): 91-93. Birg, Herwig. “Demographic Aging.” In Shrinking Cities, 112-119. Ostfildern-Ruit: Hatje Cantz, 2006. Campanella, Richard. Bienville’s Dilemma: A Historical Geography New Orleans. Lafayette: Center for Louisiana Studies, 2008. Campanella, Thomas J.. “Urban Resilience and the Recovery of New Orleans.” Journal of American Planning Association 72, no. 2 (2006): 141-46. Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority. Louisiana’s Comprehensive Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast. Baton Rouge: Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority of Louisiana, 2012. Comfort, Louise K., Thomas A. Birkland, Beverly A. Cigler, and Earthea Nance. “Retrospectives and Prospectives on Hurricane Katrina: Five Years and Counting.” Public Administration Review (2010): 668-678. Congressional Budget Office. Potential Impacts of Climate Change in the United States. Washington D.C.: Congress of the United States, 2009. Cutter, Susan L., Christopher G. Burton, and Christopher T. Emrich. “Disaster Resilience Indicators for Benchmarking Baseline Conditions.” Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management 7, no. 1 (2012). Environmental Justice Foundation. “Forced Migration.” Environmental Justice Foundation. climate/climate-change-and-displacement (accessed November 1, 2013). Feifel, Kirtsten, and Rachel M. Gregg. “Relocating the Village of Newtok, Alaska due to Coastal Erosion | CAKE: Climate Adaptation Knowledge Exchange.” case-studies/relocating-village-newtok-alaska-due-coastal erosion (accessed November 1, 2013). Fields, Billy. “From Green Dots to Greenways: Planning in the Age of Climate Change in Post Katrina New Orleans.” Journal of Urban Design 14, no. 3 (2009): 325-44. Fishman, Robert. “Suburbanization: USA.” In Shrinking Cities, 66-73. Ostfildern-Ruit: Hatje Cantz, 2006. Goldernberg, Suzanne. “America’s First Climate Refugees.” The Guardian (London), May 13, 2013. Gonzalez, Jessica. “Grandfathering Gone for many: Actuarial rates will apply for new or lapsed policies, business structures and second homes.” The St. Bernard Voice, February 8, 2013. H20 Partners Inc., “BW12,” YouTube video, com/watch?v=tpeqSQr3ngY (accessed November 1, 2013)

Horne, Jedidiah, and Brendan Nee. An Overview of Post-Katrina Planning in New Orleans. Berkeley: UC Department of City and Regional Planning, 2006. IPCC, 2007: Summary for Policymakers. In: Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, M.L. Parry, O.F. Canziani, J.P. Palutikof, P.J. van der Linden and C.E. Hanson, Eds., Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 7-22. Jervis, Rick. “In Louisiana, who gets to live behind levees?.” USA Today (New York City), August 30, 2012. Kamel, Nabil. “Social Marginalization, Federal Assistance and Repopulation Patterns in the New Orleans Metropolitan Area following Hurricane Katrina.” Urban Studies Journal (2012). Moser, Susanne C. “Navigating the Political and Emotional Terrain of Adaptation: Community Engagement When Climate Change Comes Home.” In Successful Adaptation to Climate Change: Linking Science and Policy in a rapidly Changing World. London: Routledge, 2012. National Wildlife Federation. The Psychological Effects of Global Warming on the United States: And Why the U.S. Mental Health Care System Is Not Adequately Prepared. Reston, VA: National Wildlife Federation, 2012. Park, Kyong. “Moving Cities.” In Shrinking Cities, 184-187. Ostfildern-Ruit: Hatje Cantz, 2006. Rieniets, Tim. “Global Shrinkage.” In Shrinking Cities, 20-34. Ostfildern-Ruit: Hatje Cantz, 2006. Schwirian, Kent P. “Models of Neighborhood Change.” Annual Review of Sociology 9 (1983): 83-103. Snell, John. “Outside the Walls: People living outside new levees fight for their own protection.” FOX 8: WVUE New Orleans, May 13, 2013. Verderber, Stephen. “Five Years After- Three New Orleans Neighborhoods.” Journal of Architectural Education (2010): 107 20. Vidal, John. “Global Warming could create 150 million ‘climate refugees’ by 2050.” The Guardian (London), February 11, 2009. Waller, Mark. “Hurricane Katrina Eight Years Later, a Statistical Snapshot of the New Orleans Area.” The Times-Picayune (New Orleans), August 28, 2013. Wolf-Powers, Laura. “Is New Orleans a Shrinking City?” Places 19.1 (2007): 87-90.

image bibliography Figure 1: “Polarisierung/Polarization.” Digital image. Shrinking Cities. Figure 2: digram by author, information from Rieniets, Tim. “Global Shrinkage.” In Shrinking Cities, 20-34. Ostfildern-Ruit: Hatje Cantz, 2006. Figure 3: digram by author, information from The World Bank, Figure 4: digram by author, information from The World Bank, Figure 5: diagram by Interboro, http://www.interboropartners. net/2008/improve-your-lot/ Figure 6: “Wüstenausdehnung / Desertification” Digital image. Shrinking Cities. Figure 7: “Uberschwemmungen/Flooding” Digital image. Shrinking Cities. Figure 8: “Hurricane risk” Digital image. Shrinking Cities. www. Figure 9: “The Green Archipelago” from Ungers, Oswald Mathias, Rem Koolhaas, Peter Riemann, and Florian Hertweck. The City in the City: Berlin: A Green Archipelago. Baden: Lars Muller, 2013. Figure 10: digram by author Figure 11: photograph by Newtok Moves, http://www. Figure 12: digram by author, aerial photo from GoogleEarth, information from Climate Central, http://sealevel.climatecentral. org/surgingseas Figure 13: digram by author, aerial photo from GoogleEarth, information from US Army Corps of Engineers’ National Levee Database, f ?p=471:32:355389892262001:LOAD_SEARCH:NO:32:: Figure 14: diagram by author, information from Greater New Orleans Community Data Center Figure 15: digram by author, aerial photo from Google Earth Figure 16: “Green Archipelago Plan” Ungers et al., The City in the City: Berlin: A Green Archipelago. Baden: Lars Muller, 2013. Figure 17:“plan of an island” Ungers et al., The City in the City: Berlin: A Green Archipelago. Baden: Lars Muller, 2013. Figure 18: digram by author Figure 19: “map depicting subsidence potential” Digital Image. Urban Water Plan. Waggoner and Ball Architects 2013. Figure 20: “section through drainage” Digital Image. Urban Water Plan. Waggoner and Ball Architects 2013. Figure 21: “aerial perspective of drainage” Digital Image. Urban Water Plan. Waggoner and Ball Architects 2013.

Figure 22: diagram by author Figure 23: “aerial perspective” Digital Image. Water Proving Ground. Lewis Tsurumaki Lewis, Figure 24: “aerial perspective” Digital Image. Water Proving Ground. Lewis Tsurumaki Lewis, Figure 25: “plan” Digital Image. Water Proving Ground. Lewis Tsurumaki Lewis, Figure 26: diagram by author Figure 27: “aerial view of Newtok” Digital Image. Map Showing Extent of September 22, 2005 Flood. Newtok Planning Group. NewtokPlanningGroup.aspx Figure 28: “aerial view of Newtok flood” Digital Image. Map Showing Extent of September 22, 2005 Flood. Newtok Planning Group. PlanningLandManagement/NewtokPlanningGroup.aspx Figure 29: diagram by author Figure 30: “aerial sketch” Digital image. Village V/K C3. Peter Barber Architects. Village.html# Figure 31: “meeting house plan” Digital image. Village V/K C3. Peter Barber Architects. Mud_Village.html# Figure 32: diagram by author Figure 33: “perspective” Image from book. New Suburbanism. Lewis, Paul, Marc Tsurumaki, and David J. Lewis. Lewis. Tsurumaki. Lewis: Opportunistic Architecture. Chicago: Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, 2008. Figure 34: “sectional perspective” Image from book. New Suburbanism. Lewis, Paul, Marc Tsurumaki, and David J. Lewis. Lewis. Tsurumaki. Lewis: Opportunistic Architecture. Chicago: Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, 2008. Figure 35: “perspective” Image from book. New Suburbanism. Lewis, Paul, Marc Tsurumaki, and David J. Lewis. Lewis. Tsurumaki. Lewis: Opportunistic Architecture. Chicago: Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, 2008. Figure 36: diagram by author Figure 37: “side view photograph” Digital Image. FLOAT House. Morphosis. Figure 38: “street view photograph” Digital Image. FLOAT House. Morphosis. Figure 39: “rendering and plan” Digital Image. FLOAT House. Morphosis. Figure 40: diagram by author

Figure 41: “rendering of courtyard” Digital Image. Green Mosque. Figure 42: “interior of mosque” Digital Image. Green Mosque. Figure 43: digram by author Figure 44: digram by author, information from Green Mosque, Figure 45: digram by author, information from Adamsville Health Center, Figure 46: “exterior photograph” Digital Image. Adamsville Health Center, Figure 47: digram by author Figure 48: “pathway rendering” Digital Image. Disaster Prevention Center, Figure 49: “aerial rendering” Digital Image. Disaster Prevention Center, Figure 50: diagram by author Figure 51: diagram by author, information from Disaster Prevention Center, Figure 52: diagram by author Figure 53: diagram by author Figure 54: diagram by author Figure 55: diagram by author, map base from GoogleEarth, information from U.S. Census Bureau Figure 56: digram by author, map base from GoogleEarth, information from the Nature Conservancy’s Coastal Resilience Figure 57: diagram by author, map base from GoogleEarth, information from U.S. Census Bureau Figure 58: diagram by author, map base from GoogleEarth Figure 59: diagram by author, map base from GoogleEarth Figure 60: diagram by author, map base from GoogleEarth Figure 61: diagram by author, map base from GoogleEarth Figure 62: diagram by author, map base from GoogleEarth Figure 63: diagram by author, map base from GoogleEarth Figure 64: diagram by author, map base from GoogleEarth Figure 65: diagram by author, map base from GoogleEarth Figure 66: diagram and photo by author Figure 67: diagram and photo by author Figure 68: diagram and photo by author Figure 69: diagram by author Figure 70: diagram by author Figure 71: diagram by author, map base from GoogleEarth Figure 72: photograph by author Figure 73: photograph by author Figure 74: photograph by author Figure 75: photograph by author Figure 76-89: by author

On the Horizon: Creating a contextual refuge on the shifting Louisiana coast  

Tulane School of Architecture thesis research and design proposal by Elizabeth Kovacevic, advised by Graham Owen. This thesis looks at the p...

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