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COLLECTIVE POTENTIAL a network of acupuncture interventions for flood resiliency

Collective Potential: A Network of Micro Interventions for Flood Resilience A thesis submitted to the Graduate School of the University of Cincinnati in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Architecture in the Department of Architecture of the College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning by Sachini Kumi Wickramanayaka 4/28/18 B.S. in Architecture from The City School of Architecture, Colombo, Sri Lanka In partnership with The University of the West England, Bristol, UK April 2014 Committee Chair: Elizabeth Riorden



Abstract The occurrence of natural disasters has increased in an alarming rate in the past decade due to the increasing effects of climate change. A joint report by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, and the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters recorded 3,062 natural flood disasters that occurred around the world between 1995 and 2015, making “flooding” the most commonly occurring natural disaster,1 and with time the intensity and the frequency of such events will only continue to grow. This is an exploration on how architecture can intervene and facilitate in preserving communities in the face of disaster, specifically in battling floods. “Resilience” is one of the concepts been brought forward to be instilled in vulnerable lower the impact from such disasters as a mechanism. While there are number in the built environment, this between


and “urban

strengthening communities relatively small-scale, 1. The Human Cost of WeatherRelated Disasters 19952015. UNISDR & Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters, 2015, The Human Cost of WeatherRelated Disasters 1995-2015, reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb. int/files/resources/COP21_ WeatherDisastersReport_2015_ FINAL.pdf. Accessed 8 Sept. 2017. Fig. 1: Flooded St. Paul’s Cathedral

that have

communities to

preventative and coping

of ways to achieve resilience

thesis aims to create a synthesis acupuncture”.




from within, by layering a network of

fast phased interventions on pre-existing

conventional flood preventative large scale engineering infrastructure.

By investigating “The Woodlands” a planned neighborhood

as a case study, this thesis will argue that large management solutions while extremely important a single solution particularly during a time of weather events. The different projects will architectural aspects such as neighborhood potential and awareness into a would collectively increase successful the project flooding

scale water

will not suffice as

frequent and extreme try to synthesize non-

aspirations, requirements,

network of architectural forms that

neighborhood resiliency to floods. If

will translate into a methodology that accepts

and water management as part and parcel of daily life.



Acknowledgment Completion of this thesis marks an important milestone in my education. Through an intensive learning experience not only have I grown academically but also in my personal life. This journey would not have been possible if not for the support rendered by many people over the course of the past eight months.

First and

foremost I would like to express my gratitude to my thesis advisor Professor Elizabeth Riorden, for her continuous support during this process. If not for her extreme patience, motivation, and direction this would not have been a possibility. She allowed this thesis to be a culmination of my own ideas and interest but made sure to steer me in the right direction whenever she felt like I needed it. I would also like to thank rest of the faculty members at DAAP for contributing and shaping this thesis project with their to








for and




pushed this



Last but not least I would like to thank my family and friends for providing me with unfailing support and continuous encouragement









them this accomplishment would not have been a possibility.


Contents Abstract Acknowledgment Table of Contents List of Illustrations List of Tables Introduction to Thesis

A Global Challenge The Existing Problem Thesis problem statement Research aims & Methodology Structure of the document

The Flooding

Background Types & causes of flooding Probability of flooding Impacts and opportunities?

The Framework



Flood Resiliency & Architecture Core Characteristics Precedent Study: Hafen City Urban acupuncture Why Urban Acupuncture Core Characteristics Precedent Study: “This is not a vacant lot� Neighborhood Scale Key Characteristics Precedent Study: Potsdamer Platz The Matrix Current strategies

Engineering Infrastructure

Structural Flood-proofing

Ecological Infrastructure

What is missing? The Matrix The Location

Houston The problem of flooding in Houston Introduction to Site: The Woodlands TX Ecological Planning methods and ideas in context Project realization & shortcomings Area of study Mapping Study Comparative photographic study

The Meshwork

Introduction Site Selection The Interventions Site 1: Residential Waterfront

The Analysis

The Solution

Site 2: Impervious Parking Lot

The Analysis

The Solution

Site 3: The Boathouse The Analysis

The Solution

Program Considerations

Precedent Study

The Outcome The Design Limitations of this research References Glossary of Terms



List of Figures Fig.1: Flooded St. Paul’s Cathedral Tides St Paul’s Cathedral, Digital Image by author. Pablo Genovés. Accessed March 26, 2018, https://www.metalocus.es/en/news/pablo-genoves-tides-st-pauls-cathedral-2017


Fig. 2: Chapter 1 Cover Image Houston after Harvey. Digital Image. Tarrant County College News, Accessed February 28, 2018. https://news.tccd.edu/2017/11/29/fire-training-instructors-head-houston-harvey/


Fig. 3: Occurrences of Natural Disasters Digital Image by author


Fig. 4: Flooding: A Global Problem Digital Image by author


Fig. 5: Chapter 2 Cover Image A woman walking in flooded streets in Savannah, GA after Hurricane Mathew. Digital Image. Stephen Mortan, The Associated Press, Accessed February 28, 2018, https://www.denverpost. com/2016/10/08/weakening-hurricane-matthew-atlantic-coast-us-death-toll/


Fig. 6: Fluvial (River) Flooding (i) Brazos River Flooding. Digital Image. Accessed March 1, 2018, https://www.chron.com/ news/houston-weather/hurricaneharvey/article/Brazos-River-continues-to-rise-withmajor-12163814.php#photo-14013449


Fig. 7: Fluvial (River) Flooding (ii) Hurricane Harvey: Before and After. Digital Image. Live Science, Accessed March 1, 2018, https://www.livescience.com/60361-hurricane-harvey-before-and-after-photos.html


Fig. 8: Coastal Flooding (i) 14 Massachusetts coastal flooding. Digital Image. Accessed March 1, 2018, http://www.wbur.org/ news/2018/03/02/storm-coastal-flooding-massachusetts Fig. 9: Coastal Flooding (ii) Coastal City Flooding. Digital Imgae. Independent, Accessed March 1, 2018, https://www. independent.co.uk/news/science/coastal-city-flooding-could-cost-more-than-600bn-ayear-8773359.html


Fig. 10: Pluvial (Overland) Flooding (i) Overland flooding in Ontario, Canada. Digital Image. Canadian underwriter. Accessed March 1, 2018, https://www.canadianunderwriter.ca/insurance/aviva-to-launch-overland-floodendorsement-for-ontario-alberta-home-policyholders-in-may-1003486618/


Fig. 11: Pluvial (Overland) Flooding (ii) 14 The Flood checklist. Digital Image. Accessed March 1, 2018, https://www.overlandbound.com/ vehicle-flood-checklist/ Fig. 12: Flash Flooding (i) 45 Killed By Flash Flooding in Northwest Pakistan. Digital Image. The Weather Channnel. Accessed March 1, 2018, https://weather.com/news/news/pakistan-peshawar-khyberpakhtunkhwa-heavy-rain-flash-flood


viii Fig. 13: Flash Flooding (ii) 14 West Virginia floods devastate 1,200 homes, many lives. Digital Image. CNN. Accessed March 1, 2018, https://www.cnn.com/2016/06/28/us/west-virginia-flooding-weather/index.html Fig. 14: Chapter 3 Cover Image 17 Metro Cable. Digital Image. Urban Think Tank. Accessed March 1, 2018, http://u-tt.com/project/ metro-cable/ Fig. 15: Resiliency Characteristics Digital Collage and icons by author


Fig. 16: Hafen City Map HafenCity Development. Digital Image. The HafenCity. Accessed March 1, 2018, http://www. hafencity.com/en/overview/hafencity-development-facts-and-figures.html


Fig. 17: Concept Imagery 25 HafenCity. Digital Image. KCAP Architects & Planners. Accessed January 20, 2018, https://www. kcap.eu/en/projects/v/hafencity/ Fig. 18: Strategy Analysis Digital Collage and icons by author. Images from KCAP Architects & Planners, https://www. kcap.eu/en/projects/v/hafencity/


Fig. 19: Urban Acupuncture Characteristics Digital Collage and icons by author


Fig. 20: It’s NOT a Vacant Lot: Project 5 It’s NOT a Vacant Lot. Digital Image. Accessed January 20, 2018, https://www. plataformaarquitectura.cl/cl/02-349303/esto-no-es-un-solar-reconvirtiendo-parcelas-vaciasen-espacio-publico-parte-ii


Fig. 21: Strategy Analysis 32 Digital Collage and icons by author. Images from https://www.plataformaarquitectura.cl/cl/02349303/esto-no-es-un-solar-reconvirtiendo-parcelas-vacias-en-espacio-publico-parte-ii Fig. 22: Neighborhood Scale Characteristics Digital Collage and icons by author


Fig. 23: Movement of Water through Potsdamer Platz Potsdamer Platz. Digital Image. Urban green-blue grids. Accessed February 12, 2018, http:// www.urbangreenbluegrids.com/projects/potsdamer-platz-berlin-germany/


Fig. 24: Strategy Analysis Digital Collage and icons by author. Images from www.urbangreenbluegrids.com/projects/ potsdamer-platz-berlin-germany/


Fig. 25: Chapter 4 Cover Image HafenCity. Digital Image. KCAP Architects & Planners. Accessed March 20, 2018, https://www. kcap.eu/en/projects/v/hafencity/


ix Fig. 26: Matrix of Strategies Icons by author


Fig. 27: Chapter 5 Cover Image Flooding continues near downtown Houston. Digital image. Win McNamee, Getty Images. Accessed March 20, 2018, http://www.rubbernews.com/article/20170831/NEWS/170839983/ harvey-makes-mark-on-rubber-industry


Fig. 28: Growth of Houston Digital image by Author. Adapted using old Houston maps. Digital images. Accessed November 6, 2017, https://www.visithoustontexas.com/about-houston/history/


Fig. 29: Houston suburban sprawl 50 The rapid growth of strip malls and housing developments in Houston. Digital Image. NewsFix. Accessed November 6, 2017, http://cw39.com/2017/08/31/how-houstons-layout-may-havemade-its-flooding-worse/ Fig. 30: Timeline of Flood Events in Houston Digital diagram by author


Fig. 31: Location of Woodlands Planned Community Digital map by author


Fig. 32: Woodlands anticipated growth Digital diagram and collage by author


Fig. 33: Figure-ground map Digital map by author


Fig. 34: Surface Study map Digital map by author


Fig. 35: Green Areas map Digital map by author


Fig. 36: Existing Land-use map Digital map by author


Fig. 37: 2040 Land-use map Digital map by author


Fig. 38: Soil type map Digital map by author


Fig. 39: Flood Plain map Digital map by author


Fig. 40, 42, 44, 46: Typical images of initial development in line with ecological planning methods Digital images by author


Fig. 41, 43, 45, 47: Typical images of current development Digital images by author


x Fig. 48: Chapter 6 Cover Image Digital image by author


Fig. 49: The pressure points Digital image by author


Fig. 50: Site 1 analysis and strategies Digital image by author


Fig. 51: Site 2 analysis and strategies Digital image by author


Fig. 52: Site 3 analysis and strategies Digital image by author


Fig. 53: Longitudinal building section Building section. Digital Image. Studio Gang. Accessed February 20, 2018, https://www. archdaily.com/465715/wms-boathouse-at-clark-park-studio-gang-architects


Fig. 54: Building elevation from the river Building elevation. Digital Image. Studio Gang. Accessed February 20, 2018, https://www. archdaily.com/465715/wms-boathouse-at-clark-park-studio-gang-architects


Fig. 55: Building Interior view Interior view of boat storage. Digital Image. Studio Gang. Accessed February 20, 2018, https:// www.archdaily.com/465715/wms-boathouse-at-clark-park-studio-gang-architects


Fig. 56: Chapter 7 Cover Image Digital image by author


Fig. 57: Site 1: Residential waterfront flood preventive strategy Digital image by author


Fig. 58: Site 2: Surface Parking Lot flood preventive strategy Digital image by author


Fig. 59: Site 2: The Boat House flood preventive strategy Digital map by author



List of Tables Table 1.1: Engineering Infrastructure Type of Infrastructure Dike/ Levee

Description A bank that is usually constructed using earth along a waterway to prevent undesired flooding. Levees protect land that is normally dry while dikes protect areas that are lower than the current water level and if not for the dike would be underwater.


Retention ponds or basins are utilized as a flow control method to prevent flooding and erosion downstream due to excessive or rapid flow of water. Such retention ponds store water year long regardless of the amount of precipitation received. Detention ponds are also utilized as a flow control mechanism similar to retention ponds however water in detentions ponds are only held for a temporary time period. This method is also effective to enhance ground water recharge. High water channels can run either along the water way or further away from the water way depending in the flood plain conditions. These channels can simple act as added flow-area or as means to direct water away from certain areas. Such channels can be above ground as well as underground depending on each given scenario


High-water channels

Floods Gates


A gate (or any form of deployable barrier) that can be opened or closed to admit or exclude water.

Table 1.2: Structural Flood proofing Type of Infrastructure Buoyant

Description Buoyancy allows structures to stay afloat even with the increase in water level


Elevating the building’s first occupied floor above the DFE (Design Flood Elevation- minimum base elevation) to prevent damage from flooding.


xii Wet flood Proofing

Allowing parts of a building to intentionally flood, by equalizing water pressure and utilizing flood resistant materials

Dry Flood Proofing

Ensuring that the building is water tight at least up to the DFE (Design Flood Elevation) by keeping the flow of water out and by ensuring that structural components have the capacity to resist specified water loads. This method of flood proofing is not recommended for residential buildings by the National Flood Insurance Program in the United States because it can cause safety hazards by blocking vital egress pathways.

Table 1.3: Ecological Infrastructure Type of Infrastructure Living Banks/ Shoreline

Description As oppose to the conventional hard edge structures forming the perimeter of a water body, in the case of living banks natural materials (plants, rocks, & natural sediments) form the edge conditions. These disperse the force of water and currents on the edge more effectively and encourage wildlife habitat and plant growth.

Flood-able Parks

Parks and other similar public spaces that would serve a variety of different purposes during normal weather conditions will be designed to get flooded. These will act as temporary retention or detention ponds when the storm water systems are saturated with flood or storm water.

Open Swales

Generally utilized in relatively smaller drainage areas, open swales can either be wet or dry depending on their design intent. While being more effective compared to the traditional curb and gutter system, swales can also improve ground water recharge and support a local ecology

Permeable Surfaces

Permeable surface treatments are an alternative to traditional methods of paving that doesn’t allow water to percolate through them. By allowing for the movement of water through such permeable surfaces it mimics the natural percolation process and thereby by reduces runoff.


xiii Table 2: Ecological Planning recommendations by Ian McHarg for the Woodlands Township Category Objective Adaptations/ Recommendations Hydrology Reduce Flooding Ensure that the existing primary and secondary drainage channels can handle storm runoff by providing easements (with ground cover) Minimize erosion and siltation

Enhance existing channels with berms and layered plantings to create swales

Contribute to no increase in off-site runoff

Temporary water storage ponds or impoundments

Retard runoff and maximize recharge

Use check dams in swales to slow runoff and trickle tubes in impounded areas to gain even flow of water


Establish Maintain constant flow, well lit permanent conditions and promote animal water bodies life that are neither eutrophic nor hazardous


Use recharge capacity of certain soils to enhance the natural drainage system

Direct runoff over permeable soils

Minimize coverage of permeable soils by locating structures on impermeable soils and backyards/ parks and open areas on permeable soils


Matrix Icon

xiv Houses and Buildings to be constructed raised or outdoor on foundation fill activities to be located as dry as possible Pedestrian paths to be raised on foundation fill when located on impermeable soils


Retain as much as the existing vegetation

Minimize the front and side yards to increase the uncleared areas and build vertical than horizontal


Maximize the immediate experience of the Woodlands

Use scalloped or uneven planting along the roadways with limited use of artificial surface coverings


Breakup parking areas with substantial areas of vegetation


INTRODUCTION The first chapter of the thesis document will introduce the topic by outlining the problem and situating the problem in the global context. This will highlight how the problem that is being discussed here is a global problem that requires a localized approach. The research problem statement will also be introduced in this chapter along with research aims and methodology utilized to explore the ideas of the problem statement.


A Global Challenge

Against the backdrop of climate change, unfavorable land

use patterns and population growth, flooding has become a major challenge that many cities across the globe are facing. The effects, intensity, frequency and the causes of flooding are shifting and evolving, making it increasingly difficult to manage the phenomenon of flooding.

The year 2017 started off with devastating floods in the coastal

regions of Peru that killed almost 150 people and accounted for US$ 9 billion in property and infrastructure damage. The heavy monsoon rains and winds inundated Sri Lanka with severe flooding in May recording 213 deaths. As summer approached these events only got worse, recording yet another massive flood event coupled with a landslide in Sierra Leon accounting for 600+ deaths. The months of June and July hit the South Asian region yet again with flooding affecting more than 41 million people collectively in India, Bangladesh and Nepal and putting the death toll into a record high of 1200.2 This pattern was then followed by Hurricane Harvey, Irma & Maria that devastated the North American 2. “10 of the Deadliest Natural Disasters of 2017,” U.S. News & World Report, accessed September 22, 2017, https://www.usnews.com/ news/best-countries/slideshows/10-of-the-deadliest-natural-disasters-of-2017.

region, accounting for a total of approximately US$ 300 billion in property

3. “Significant Flood Events,” Significant Flood Events | FEMA.gov, accessed September 22, 2017, https:// www.fema.gov/significant-flood-events.

the globe and that often go unnoticed due to lack of media coverage.

damages.3 Hurricane Maria, one of the worst to hit the Caribbean and the northeastern Atlantic, caused 120+ deaths alone in Puerto Rico. While these account for only a handful of major flood events that occurred in the past year, they were followed by an extensive amount of other small scale flash flood events that occurred quite frequently around

It is evident that the future ahead requires strategies for flood

management to evolve into becoming an integral part of the city planning and design process. It is important to consider both short term and

4. Revkin A. “On Dams, Gutters, Floods and Climate Resilience.” Dot Earth blog in The New York Times, August 30, 2011

long term prospects of flood management. The preventative measures that are being implemented for the most immediate needs should also take into consideration the long term implications and requirements. 4

Fig. 2: Chapter 1 Cover Image Fig. 3: Occurrences of Natural Disasters

Cities that were built using 25 & 50 year base flood elevations are

now faced with 100 & 500 year flood events. Hence while managing the flood risk for today speculations should be made about impacts of flooding in future and design for “adaptability” within the systems.


Fig. 4: A Global Challenge


The Existing Problem

The conventional approach of “flood risk management” has

recently started to shift towards “flood resiliency”, with the understanding that man cannot completely dominate and prevent these adverse yet natural occurrences. Instead, the focus is now on reducing the effects and vulnerabilities of flooding through better integration of flood prevention into the city planning process.5 Yet when it comes to execution of such plans, the cities would often only resort to large scale engineering solutions. While the large scale engineering infrastructure is essential for flood management, the conventional interpretations lack the ability to adapt. Furthermore, the hefty price tags attached to such projects, their scale and the construction time line often makes the implementation process tougher. In other cases, cities that already have such infrastructure are now presented with the problem of increased intensities of flood events. As a result, the infrastructure that was once effective is quite rapidly becoming inadequate in providing the required base level of safety. In reference to The United States, the scale of the projects along with their monetary requirements has also reduced their relative autonomy, often requiring state or federal support to successfully execute such projects. Although an integrated approach for flood resilience appears to be more relevant and effective, the implementation remains unexplored.

5. Cutter S., Barnes L., Berry M., Burton C., Evans E., Tate E. & Webb J. A place-based model for understanding community resilience to natural disasters. Glob Environ Change 2008, 18, 598–606. 6. Hiltrud Pötz, Tatjana Anholts, and Martijn De Koning, Multi Level Safety; Water Resilient Urban and Building Design, publication, Foundation for Applied Water Research, vol. 12, series 2014 (Amersfoort: Stichting Toegepast Onderzoek Waterbeheer), 6-8.

The future calls for a multi layered approach to flood

resiliency. In 2008 the Netherlands, being a pioneer in flood mitigation, launched planning principals for a multi-level flood security approach. The outline consists of three distinctive layers; •

Prevention- Preventative engineering infrastructure such as dikes, floodgates etc.







for secondary flood preventative measures such as smaller dikes, nature conservation, recreation, and infrastructure depending on the degree of flood risk. •

Disaster Management- Emergency evacuation and warning systems.6

However, the need for an added second layer of protection, even


though highly effective, is often criticized. Especially in the case of the Netherlands, where the first layer of prevention is up-to-date and efficient some believe that investing in a second layer of protection is not profitable. However, if one compares and contrasts the degree of flood protection between the Dutch and the United States, it is evident that the first layer of preventive measures are quickly becoming obsolete in the United States, making it an absolute necessity to implement a secondary layer of protective strategies. The United States also has a multi-tiered governing system as opposed to the central governing system present in the Netherlands. Hence due to the inherent tiers present in the political system, it might be easier to implement a layered system of flood protection when in the US.

Thesis Exploration

This thesis explores the possibilities that exist within the second

“spatial planning” layer of the Dutch layered approach to flood resiliency. While there are different “scales” at which this approach can be tested, (such as the individual building scale, neighborhood scale and city scale) the neighborhood scale provides interesting opportunities for developing new planning and design policies to implement flood resilience as it is often the scale of ordinary urban projects. Even though flood management projects are not usually implemented in the neighborhood scale, it would provide the opportunity to implement and test the measures faster with more autonomy compared to the traditional approaches.7 The neighborhood scale can also be referred to as a unit in a larger and complex system, thereby presenting the possibility of replication.

Thesis Problem Statement

Can an overlay of micro-interventions for flood control, increase

the flood resiliency of a neighborhood?

Research Aims and Methodology

Initial steps of the research process will include analyzing

and studying the existing literature available on the phenomenon of flooding. Once a thorough understanding of the subject matter is established, a methodology to assess the thesis problem statement will be constructed. In the given thesis scenario the methodology will explore the possibility of using principles of urban acupuncture to instill

7. Saint-Pierre C., Becue V. & Teller J. Case study of mixeduse high-rise location at the Greater Paris scale. In: Sixth International Conference on Urban Regeneration and Sustainability, The Sustainable City 2010. La coruna: Wessex Institute of Technology, 2010.


flood resiliency in a chosen neighborhood. Urban acupuncture here refers to small-scale independent interventions in multiple locations that collectively act towards achieving holistic transformation. Existing strategies of flood mitigation will be revisited using the above approach to explore the possibility of redefining some of those strategies to suit the present needs of flood resiliency. A network of strategies along with a building design located in a flood prone area will be presented at the end of the research process. The network of strategies could include a variety of interventions depending on the existing context, uses and current flood conditions. The building project incorporated into the network of strategies will serve as a model that depicts how certain strategies can be incorporated architecturally into a building.

Structure of the Document

The first chapter of the thesis document will introduce the topic

by outlining the problem and situating the problem in the global context. This will highlight how the problem that is being discussed here is a global problem that requires a localized approach. The research problem statement will also be introduced in this chapter along with research aims and methodology utilized to explore the ideas of the problem statement.

After the introductory chapter, the second chapter of the

book will introduce the reader to the phenomenon of flooding. Here the different types and causes of flooding will be outlined along with other important aspects such as understanding the probability of flooding and its impacts. A better understanding of the problem itself and its root causes will highlight the logic behind the approach taken and the solutions presented later in the study.

The third chapter will form the core of this thesis by presenting

the theoretical basis of the study along with a comprehensive literature review. The framework for the thesis is built around three key concepts that are explained in depth in this chapter, along with their relevance to the thesis problem.

Each of the core

concepts will be further examined using a precedent study example.









strategies the


will chapter

be to

broken closely

examine their pros and cons. The existing strategies will be re-examined








outlined in the previous chapter. Then a matrix of strategies will be presented that explores how the existing strategies can be manipulated to address some of the present flood conditions better.

The fifth chapter will introduce the readers to the location

of the case study project. Historic and background information on the city of Houston as whole will be provided with an added emphasis on the neighborhood area (the Woodlands) that was selected for the study. A mapping study will highlight the important aspects








flood plain data to highlight their implications on the project.

The mapping study will lead to the identification of problematic

areas of the Woodlands neighborhood and the sixth chapter will outline the network of strategies that would best address the issues of the chosen sites. One site would be identified as suitable for a built project, and would also serve as a model to showcase how flood







in building design. A contextual and programmatic analysis will justify the strategies that are incorporated in these interventions.

Design progress along with the outcomes of the study is laid

out in the final most chapters along with closing remarks and potential improvements that can be done to improve the quality of the overall study.



THE FLOODING The second chapter of the book introduces




flooding. Here the different types and causes of flooding is outlined along with other important aspects such as probability of flooding and its impacts. A better understanding of the problem and its root causes will highlight the logic behind the approach taken and the solutions presented







In ancient Mesopotamia the cities first developed along

Euphrates and Tigris rivers; similarly Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa ancient cities developed along the Indus valley, and in the African region civilization started along the Nile river valley. Similar patterns in human settlements existed in the rest of the world highlighting that access to water was and still is a major part in sustaining human civilization.8 From the time of the earliest civilization, flooding was naturally considered part and parcel of life and was in fact manipulated to benefit the early city development. The silt rich flood waters were captured using flood basins in order to regenerate the soils by the Egyptians.

Civilizations and growth of cities are still concentrated around

water with populations that are not comparable to the ancient cities. As opposed to the ancient times these hubs of social and economic activity are often adversely affected by flooding. Today, flooding has become a source of disruption and damage as oppose to being considered an opportunity. EM-DAT, The International Disaster Database defines “Flood” as “an overflow of water from a stream channel onto land that is normally dry”. The phenomenon of flooding is only regarded as a concern the moment it affects life and or property. However, due to the increasing number of unfavorable conditions, flooding has now become the most commonly occurring natural disaster around the globe.

Types and Causes of Flooding

Usually resulting from hydrological and meteorological extremes

such as increased amounts of rainfall, flooding is also caused due to unfavorable human activities such as unregulated growth and development in designated floodplains. The increasing amount of rural to urban migration 8. Stephen Innes and Mechal Sobel, “Worlds Together, Worlds Apart,” Reviews in American History 17, no. 1 (1989): 20-22,

has spiked the demand for development and land in the cities. This often

Fig. 5: Chapter 2 Cover Image

would then affect the permeability of the soils as well as increase surface

causes development in the floodplain areas despite the existing regulations, making people and property highly exposed to flooding. Such changes in land use could result in an increased amount of impervious surfaces that runoff.

In order to come up with preventative strategies, it is

necessary that both the cause and the speed of onset for the different types of floods are understood. Following is a categorization of different types of floods along with their causes and impacts.

Fluvial (River) Flooding

Fluvial or River flooding occurs when the rivers burst their banks

due to intense rainfall or when water runoff amounts exceed the capacity of the river. River flooding can also occur in artificial water channels such as canals or waterways. The excess water, while flowing from upstream to downstream, overflows the banks of the watercourse and spills into adjacent, low-lying flood plain areas. The flooding that occurs along the banks of the Mississippi River in the United States is usually a fluvial type of flooding. River flooding can accumulate significant depth depending on the intensity of the rainfall. The onset speed of this type of flooding can be either slow or fast. For an example, if the flooding is caused by sustaining rainfall the resulting river floods may be slow and lasting a longer period, but contrastingly if the cause is a snowmelt that occurred upstream the flooding can be fast and only last a shorter time period.

Coastal Flooding

High tides, storm surges, and tsunamis are considered the main

causes that contribute to coastal flooding. The oceanic water that is piled up due to the storm conditions is gushed towards the land, inundating the coastal zones. The rising sea levels are increasing the intensity and frequency of such storms, thereby also increasing the amount of water that is pushed inland. Coastal flooding usually lasts a short period of time ranging from eight to ten hours, but, depending on the intensity of the storm, the damage caused by coastal flooding can be devastating. The flooding caused by Hurricane Sandy in New York, Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, recently hurricane Harvey in Galveston and hurricane Irma in Florida are some well-known examples of this type of flooding.

Pluvial (Overland) Flooding

Pluvial flooding occurs when an area is inundated with

heavy rainfall, and the existing water management systems are saturated by the sheer quantity of water from the downpour.



Due to the lack of permeability, the excess water that is not absorbed ends up flowing through low lying urban areas. This type of flooding often occurs in low lying flat areas. The flood water spreads fast in these areas and they remain flooded for a prolonged period of time due to the nature of the terrain. Most of the time pluvial floods will only cause a foot or two in flooding. Pluvial flooding could occur in any area of a city, even those that are further away from water and not in the identified flood plain areas. The flooding that took place in 2007, in the UK is an example of this kind of flooding.

Flash Flooding










from an upstream water storage impoundment, flash floods are similar in nature to pluvial flooding. The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric







usually occur within six hours of heavy rainfall. Flash floods are categorized as especially dangerous, due to their unpredictable nature. The flood waters usually travel at high speeds, carrying a lot of debris and damaging a large amount of property on its course.

Fig. 6: Fluvial (River) Flooding(i) Fig. 7: Fluvial (River) Flooding(ii) Fig. 8: Coastal Flooding (i)

Probability of Flooding

The sources of flooding can be identified through the different

types of flooding outlined above and, while the topographical data and flood maps can highlight the possible pathways the flood water travels, another key aspect for understanding flood risk would be the likelihood of occurrence of a flood hazard.

Fig. 9: Coastal Flooding (ii)

Fig. 10: Pluvial (Overland) Flooding (i)

in itself is hard to be translated from a scientific model to one

Fig. 11: Pluvial (Overland) Flooding (ii)

science, people are still unable to predict when and where exactly

Fig. 12: Flash Flooding (i) Fig. 13: Flash Flooding (ii)

During the recent hurricane season, it was evident that many

often misinterpreted the flood probability data. The probability that people can easily comprehend. And despite the advances in certain weather events would happen, meaning there is also no way to predict when and where flood events would take place. This is one of the primary reasons why the occurrences of flood events are categorized in terms of probabilities, by taking into account historical data of when floods occurred previously and their intensities.


Fluvial (River) Flooding.

Coastal Flooding.

Pluvial (overland) Flooding

Flash Flooding.


One of the biggest misconceptions in translating such probability

data is that the time referred to in the flood event is actually directly correlated to the time another similar flood event would occur. For an example, a 100-year flood event does not directly translate into a flood event that would only occur every 100 years but rather means that there is 1% chance of a similar flood happening every year.9 And the connotation of x (where x can be 50, 100, or 500)-year, flood has more relevance to the magnitude of the flood rather than the recurrence interval of the flood event. In fact, two or more 100-year flood events could occur in the same area in the same year. This misinterpretation is one of the main reasons why development in the designated floodplains are taken lightly by the developers and the people who occupy these areas. There’s a clear difference between assuming a flood will take place once in 100 years as opposed to thinking a flood event of a 100-year magnitude can occur in this area at least once a year. Although one might argue a 99% chance of a 100-year flood NOT happening in any given year is a good condition, when looking at a longer time period this probability goes high. For an example over 30 year the probability of NOT having a 100-year flood event drops to 75% (0.9930 = 0.739 =approximately 9. Defra. 2010. UK Climate Projections (UKCP09) index. Last updated April 30, 2010. http:// ukclimateprojections.defra.gov. uk/content/view/601/690/.

75%) And this is an important analogy for when it comes to the built environment usually in every other aspect a long term approach is taken.

Another aspect to consider is that a 100-year storm would

not always cause a 100-year flood event. The intensity of the flooding 10. USGS Howard Perlman, “Floods: Recurrence intervals and 100-year floods (USGS),” Floods: Recurrence intervals and 100-year floods, accessed December 06, 2017, https:// water.usgs.gov/edu/100yearflood.html.

can depend on other aspects such as surface and soil conditions, soil saturation before the storm, watershed size, and duration of the storm etc.10

Another aspect that needs to be highlighted it that

these probabilities are derived using historic data that is stationary. This automatically assumes that the system is static allowing for direct extrapolation of past data to predict the future. However, this is

11. Jha, Abhas K., Robin Bloch, and Jessica Lamond. Cities and Flooding; A guide to integrated urban flood risk management for the 21st Century. PDF. The World Bank, 2012.

inaccurate for the human activities and the development taking place in cities are constantly evolving and influencing the natural cycles within the environment. Hence it should be understood that flood reoccurring probability information and statistics come with their own uncertainties. 11

Flood Impacts and Opportunities


Flood impacts are distinctively categorized into direct and

indirect impacts most commonly, where a direct damage is defined as any loss that is caused by the immediate physical contact of flood water with humans, property or the environment as a whole and the indirect impacts are identified as those that are beyond the immediate limit of the flood event and often outside the area that physically incurred damages due to the flood event.12 Contrastingly some literature categorizes these impacts to tangible and intangible aspects. Mental stress and strain caused by flooding while falling under direct impacts in certain literature, in others it falls under intangible impacts. While this categorization is not directly correlated to the research aims of this thesis, it highlights the inherent differences that are present when it comes to appointing a “value” to impacts of flooding. Different cities and personnel will have different hierarchical values to the impacts of flooding. Hence there would be an inherent hierarchy when it comes to providing relevant solutions for those impacts.

There is a slow shift towards viewing flooding as an opportunity

(to address and revisit existing land use and infrastructure issues within the built fabric) instead solely as a hazard with negative impacts. For example, in San Francisco, flooding is identified as an opportunity to restore a damaged and encroached wetland system.13 However, there is only a limited amount of research and successfully implemented redevelopment projects that really try to make an opportunity out of this natural phenomenon. Furthermore, in most cases, the redevelopment and preventative measures end up creating inequality and racial segregation in most cities, and a crisis-driven urbanization approach that is trying to capitalize on such natural disasters are happening around the globe.14

12. Jonkman, S.N., Bockarjova, M., Kok, M., and Bernardini, P., 2008. “Integrated hydrodynamic and economic modeling of flood damage in the Netherlands”. In Ecological Economics, 66. 13. Jeffery Mount and Jeremy Lowe, “Flooding in San Francisco Bay; Risks and Opportunities”, PDF, California: Resources Legacy Fund. 3-6 14. Kevin Fox. Gotham and Miriam Greenberg, Crisis cities: disaster and redevelopment in New York and New Orleans (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014). 1-22


THE FRAMEWORK This chapter form the core of this thesis by presenting the theoretical basis of the study along with a comprehensive literature review. The framework for the thesis is built around three key concepts that are explained in depth in this chapter, along with their relevance to the thesis problem.

Each of the

core concepts will be further examined using a precedent study example.



The theoretical framework for this thesis is constructed

around three concepts that were introduced in the thesis abstract: 1. Resiliency


Urban Acupuncture


Neighborhood Scale

These three concepts are further examined in this chapter to define the meaning of the concepts in the context of this thesis. Different fields such as ecology, planning and sociology are brought together and discussed in one platform to form the theoretical basis of the study.


Even though theories of resiliency only start to appear in

literature in the early 1970’s, since the beginning of time humans and cities as a whole have always had tenacity to rebuild and rise from the worst of destructions. Hence it is not too wrong to assume that resiliency is one of the core characteristics of humanity itself. In the past decade, at the wake of many natural disasters taking place globally, “resiliency” has become a buzzword, and in the process the meaning of the term has become somewhat ambiguous. While the term resiliency is used in many fields, resiliency theory originated from the field of ecology. The initial theories were based on two contrasting views, one that agrees with the classical connotation of resilience and defines resilience as the ability to recover back to the equilibrium that pre-existed before any disturbance took place.15 This type of resiliency 15. Innis, G. “Stability, sensitivity, resilience, persistence: what is of interest? .” In: Ecosystem Analysis and Prediction, Philadelphia, 1976

is more commonly known as engineering resiliency. Contrastingly the other view on resilience originates from the concept of having multiequilibriums in an ecosystem. More popularly known as ecological resilience, this explores the ability of a system to adapt to change and disturbances without changing its core characteristics. Conceptually,

16. Holling, C. S. 1996.”Engineering resilience versus ecological resilience.” Pages 31-44 in P. C. Schulze, editor. Engineering within ecological constraints. National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., USA.

the equilibrium state in ecological resilience could either be the same

Fig. 14: Chapter 3 Cover Image

constancy, and predictability while ecological engineering contrastingly

or different from the previous equilibrium state. Ecological Resilience is first introduced by the Canadian ecologist C.S. Holling in his article published “Resilience and stability of ecological systems” in 1973. In his work he argues that engineering resilience focuses on efficiency, focuses on aspects such as persistence, change, and unpredictability.


Even though the modern theoretical discourse in resiliency favors


ecological resilience, when it comes to the application of resiliency, engineering resiliency still seems to be the most widely used due to its focus on functionality and economy. However if one takes precedent in nature, it is evident that the natural environment thrives on unpredictability and instability. A natural disturbance to any ecosystem is usually utilized by the ecosystem to adapt and thrive through the unfavorable conditions.

The research conducted during late 1980s built on the same

concepts as those presented by Holling, the definition of resilience was extended to include complex adaptations and characteristics of various eco systems. G.N. Adgar in his article “Social and ecological resilience: are they related?” argues that due to the existence of many interdependencies between the ecological and social strata, the concept of resilience should extend to include social and community aspects.17 This led to research that explored the idea of social-ecological resilience. Most of the research done in the early 2000’s carried through the same school of thought, favoring social-ecological resilience. In the late 2000’s researchers in different fields started to differentiate resiliency from sustainability, stating that sustainability is based on concepts such as stability, optimality and predictability, taking on a performance based approach. Resiliency however is based on continuous adaptability and flexibility and making sure that a system has the ability to self organize at the face of a major disturbance while preserving its core characteristics.18 C.S. Holling, however, in one of his later article titled “Understanding the complexity of economic, ecological, and social systems, ecosystems (2001)” argues that sustainability should be viewed through the lens of resiliency, instead as two completely different concepts.

After deliberating over the above mentioned aspects from

the existing literature (for the purpose of this thesis), applying the social-ecological definition of resiliency would be more appropriate rather than the engineering or ecological resilience. The natural disaster events such as flooding are increasingly becoming volatile and unpredictable as opposed to being consistent and predictable, making it evident that engineering resiliency would not apply in the case of this thesis. The field of architecture inherently deals with social interactions thereby making it relevant to use the extended

17. Adger, W. Neil. “Social and ecological resilience: are they related?” Progress in Human Geography 24, no. 3 (2000): 347-364. 18. B. H. Walker and David Salt, Resilience thinking sustaining ecosystems and people in a changing world (Washington, DC: Island Press, 2006), 30-33.


social-ecological connotation of resiliency in the context of this thesis. Studies on resiliency have continued to build on the same base that C.S. Holling laid out almost 40 years ago. The new studies are increasingly identifying interdependencies and interconnections within our environment and extending the meaning of resiliency. While most of the literature concurs or builds upon the prior publications, resiliency still remains a concept that is hard to measure and quantify. It would not be incorrect to state that a successful framework is still not available to measure the success of strategies and policies that have used resiliency as their foundation, due to the limited applied experience. The majority of the work is still reiterating and expanding on the qualitative aspects of resiliency and not much on the quantitative aspects.

Flood Resiliency and Architecture The concept that originated from ecology made its way to other fields also





into “Flood









was in

a fundamental shift from viewing flooding as a catastrophe that needs to be managed, to accepting it as a phenomenon that human kind will have to adapt to live with. Berry Gersonious in his article

titled “Can






urban drainage management?” defines flood resiliency as follows;

The capacity of the whole-system to absorb flood waves in annual variability, and to re- organize while undergoing change in flood wave frequency and severity in the long term, so as to enable it to function normally. It is clear that according to this definition, flood resiliency is deeply rooted in an iterative process of continuous monitoring, prediction, adaptation and learning. The recovery might result in different equilibriums as the time passes, but the main ideology is to prevent the whole system from moving to an undesired system configuration where it completely loses its previous aspirations and identity from before. This definition is also 19. “Terminology,” UNISDR News, , accessed January 06, 2018, https://www.unisdr.org/we/ inform/terminology.

closely related to how United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR), defines flood resiliency, stating that a flood resilient city would be able to “resist, absorb, accommodate to and recover from the effects of a flood hazard in a timely and efficient manner.”

The focus of this these will be on flood resilience specifically,


and by transitioning from the broader concepts of resilience to flood resilience it has become a concept with a single variable of interest for resiliency assessment.20 Due to the inherent challenges in measuring resilience, simplifying the broader concept to a singular variable will make it not only easier to understand but also evaluate. The aim would then be to explore how architecture can facilitate flood resilience and thereby increase the resiliency of communities.

Core Characteristics


In his work on flooding, Berry Gersonious has identified capacities








within a system, These same capacities will be translated as core characteristics








as the design strategies utilized in the case study design project. •

Structural Capacity (Resistance) - The ability to prevent any damage by implementing technical and structural safety measures.


Coping Capacity (Absorb) - During instances when the structural capacity has failed and a disturbance has occurred, coping capacity describes the ability of a system to absorb and cope with the disturbance.

20. Berry Gersonius, The resilience approach to climate adaptation applied for flood risk (Leiden: CRC, 2012), 18 Fig. 15: Resiliency Characteristics


Recovery Capacity- The ability of a system to recover to a stable state of functionality after a disturbance

Adaptive Capacity- The ability to incrementally adjust to uncertain future changes and retain the core qualities of a system.

Precedent Study: Hafen City Project Hafen City project in Hamburg, Germany is one of the largest urban planning projects currently under construction in Europe. This 155 acre project is located in the waterfront area abutting the Elbe River, connecting the city center to the waterfront. Before the development, the area was knows as a declining neighborhood and a brown field, and today the same area is being transformed into residential, office and mixed used spaces along with other public amenities such as parks and promenades. Being located in a low lying area, the project faced the dangers of flooding. Hamburg’s traditional approach to flooding has always been building dikes, sea walls or flood gates; as a result there are over 65 linear feet of wall area protecting the main city.21 However for Hafen City Project this approach was not utilized, because it would destroy the connection between the dock areas and the water. A dike surrounding the whole project area would also have been a large capital investment at the very beginning of the project without really knowing whether the development itself would be successful. If the project had taken this route the development of the individual lots and the buildings would have been delayed until the dike was in place. Hence the project uses a variety of different flood preventive strategies depending on aspects such as the location, distance from water and the type of use of the land or building.

The main source of flood protection is provided through ground

level elevation; as a result the entire development is tiered to be above the flood plain. The lowest levels that are closer to the water are mostly parks, promenades and designated areas for pedestrians and bikers. The next tier is usually utilized for parking and storage amenities. And when 21. “How to Survive a Flood: Hamburg’s watertight HafenCity,” Building Magazine, , accessed January 05, 2018, https://www. building.ca/features/how-tosurvive-a-flood-hamburgs-watertight-hafencity/.

the elevation of the tier has reached above the designated flood plain those areas would be approved for buildings and the main thoroughfares. By analyzing the project through the lens of resiliency, it is evident that









resiliency throughout the project. These core characteristics can be

paired to the respective architectural and planning strategies as follows:


Structural Capacity/ Résistance• Ground level elevation above the flood plain • Buildings along the water, that are not elevated, are constructed with aquarium grade glass and water-tight doors and windows • Integration of flood walls. As opposed to being an eyesore during normal times, the gates were designed to be recessed on to the floor or sunken in when not in use. Coping Capacity/ Absorb• The waterfront parks are constructed to take on the flood waters, during the high tide and peak water seasons these parks are transformed into reflecting pools • The street and park furniture in the low lying areas are cast-in-place (prevents getting washed away) utilizing materials and connections that would not get affected by exposure to flood waters Recovery Capacity• The roadways and main walkways are elevated from the flood plain to ensure that access for emergency will not be compromised in case of a flood event Adaptive Capacity• Creative ground floor uses and layouts were integrated into the building design that allowed for the functions within the buildings to change over time.

• Waterway transportation was extended from just being experiential to actually serve as a public ferry service to the residents of the area.

Fig. 16: Hafen City Map

25 22. Heleen Mees, Peter Driessen, and Hens Runhaar, Legitimate Adaptive Flood Risk Governance Beyond the Dikes: the cases of Hamburg, Helsinki and Rotterdam, report, Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Utrecht University (Rotterdam, 2013), 2-4.

In November 2007, during the construction phase of the project,

a considerable part of the first neighborhood was flooded due to a storm surge. The area remained flooded for several hours and this served as a real time testing opportunity for many of the strategies in place. While some of the flood gates failed to function, a majority of the strategies and warning systems in place worked efficiently avoiding significant damage.22

The Hafen City development project is referred to as a

23. Steven Valentino, “To See How New York Can Survive Flooding, Look to Hamburg,� WNYC, September 20, 2013, , accessed January 09, 2018, https://www. wnyc.org/story/see-how-newyork-can-survive-flooding-lookhamburg/.

successful project successful in integrating flood resiliency in the

Fig. 17: Concept Imagery

Hence it is important to consider how some of these strategies

Fig. 18: Strategy Analysis

planning and design process to deliver a resilient area where people can live, work and play. The single biggest criticism of the project has been that flood proofing measures such as using aquarium grade glass and water light windows and doors in the buildings have made themlook like bomb shelters that lack warmth and coziness.23 would translate aesthetically when being applied architecturally.

Strategy Analysis



Urban Acupuncture

Comparative analogies between cities and living organisms are

not a new phenomenon. Cities and urban life have been compared to the human body or living organisms in early works of Vitruvius and DaVinci. Just as a well functioning body is compared to a well functioning city, human “sicknesses” is compared to dysfunctions in the city.24 Rooted in this school of thought “urban acupuncture” is a socioenvironmental theory that combines principals from urban planning with principles from traditional Chinese medicine, the approach of acupuncture. In Chinese acupuncture, certain aggravated pressure points of the body are identified and treated using needle pricks. The needles are pricked on the body quickly and with precision. Parallels are drawn between the human body and the urban fabric with the understanding that similarly if one can address the pressure points (problematic areas) of a city with small scale fast paced interventions they could act as a catalyst and uplift the conditions of the city as a whole.

During the 20th century modern movement, exemplified by the

ideas and work of Le Corbusier, the city was an object of investigation and the scale of interventions tended to be very large. However projects that were realized through such utopian visions failed to deliver what they had envisioned, and as a result in 1970s and the 1980s the modern movement’s model for urban regeneration was under great scrutiny. The demolition of the mass housing project Pruitt-Igoe in St. Louis, Missouri was a great testament for this. This crisis era in urban planning paved the path to explore new interpretations for urban regeneration.

One of the first urban planners to coin the term “urban

acupuncture” was Manuel de Sola Morales in his work in 1980s. He defines the concept as a series of independent strategies in the urban fabric that not only has a direct impact on its immediate surrounding but also collectively has a larger impact on the overall built fabric. Morales further highlights in one of his later books, A Matter of 24. Helena Casanova and Jesús Hernández, Public space acupuncture: strategies and interventions for activating city life (New York: Actar Publishers, 2014), 8.

Things(2008) that these pinprick strategies will be systematic and interdependent and will act on what he defines as “the urban skin” or the “epidermis” (the urban skin described in this instance is a rich, complex and influential membrane that acts as a holistic system). This concept highlights the reparative qualities of urban acupuncture as

Jaime Lerner, in his book Urban Acupuncture: Collaborating


Pinpricks of Change that Enrich City Life(2014) builds on the same concepts that are put forward by Manuel de Sola Morales. Similar to Morales, he prefers small scale, faster paced and cost effective local interventions. However he goes on to add that these acupuncture strategies need not always be physical interventions and could consists of anything such as sensory experiences such as light or music. He also highlights that such small scale projects would assist the cities during the process of long term planning by reviving the city in smaller ways until the large scale projects are conceived and completed. He is also acknowledged as a pioneer in urban acupuncture for being an Architect/planner who also got appointed to political positions (mayor of Curitiba, Brazil for three terms and Governor of the state of Parana, Brazil for two terms) allowing him to practice such acupuncture strategies in practice. For example, when presented with the challenge of transporting infrastructure such as water and electricity into the hill side favelas in Curitiba, he and his team decided to utilize the steel tubing or conduits that are used in the railings of the many stairs and pathways to pass through the services.25

The theory of urban acupuncture at its crux is about the possibility

of having a holistic impact from the slightest interventions. However, an important aspect that is not emphasized in the theory but is evident when looking at the application of urban acupuncture principals is that small scale intervention should still have a higher value to it in the given context for it to survive and contribute to a bigger impact. If the interventions are just smaller scale and fast paced but not really catering to the needs of the community, such interventions will not succeed.

Why Urban Acupuncture?

The theory and philosophy of urban acupuncture is often

applied in urban regenerative work and as a result one can see many precedents where strategies from urban acupuncture has been successfully applied to activate public spaces, revitalize run down or impoverished neighborhoods and to revive public amenities. However urban acupuncture has not been considered as a common methodology to achieve community flood resilience. While this might be partly due to flood resilience still only focusing on large scale strategies, such catalytic interventions could be greatly applicable in achieving flood resiliency. As

25. Jaime Lerner, Urban Acupuncture: Celebrating Pinpricks of Change that Enrich City Life (Washington: Island Press, 2014), 55-57.


discussed in the second chapter, the current approach to flood resilience is a layered approach (including prevention, planning and management aspects) and this thesis specifically aims to focus on the second additive layer that consists of small-scale interventions, hence it is possible to apply principles of urban acupuncture for flood resilience.

Also, by marrying a concept that deals with qualitative

aspects (resiliency) with a concept that deals with quantity and application (urban acupuncture) it would be possible to approach the thesis statement more effectively.

For the purpose of this thesis

urban acupuncture in the context of flood resiliency will be defined as;

A series of independent flood resiliency strategies that are applied to the urban fabric that not only minimizes the impact of flooding on its immediate surrounding but also collectively contributes to reducing the pressure on large scale flood preventive systems in an event of catastrophic flood event.

Core Characteristics Through careful analysis of the theories presented on urban acupuncture, the following can be identified as the core characteristics of the above approach; •

Small Scale

Collective Potential

Fast paced/ rapid


Precedent Study- It’s NOT a Vacant Lot Saragossa, Spain, was facing effects of urban deterioration during the early 2000s and as a result not only were there significant changes in the social structure but also many lots and houses became vacant in many neighborhoods. To counter the effects of degradation the city council along with Spanish architect Patrizia di Monte initiated a project titled “The is not a vacant lot”.

A series of pilot projects were executed utilizing labor from

the neighborhood itself. The interventions were a mix of community gardens, public spaces and playgrounds. The interventions however had to be temporary because the lots were planned to be sold or

30 Fig. 19: Urban Acupuncture characteristics Fig. 20: It’s NOT a Vacant Lot: Project 5


rented to interested parties later on. But by deploying such projects, the overall quality and sense of place was uplifted and helped the residents of the area to envision the potential of the neighborhood. This also helped the city to generate more interest in buyers and investors by letting them see the rundown neighborhoods through a different lens.

Each of the interventions were paired up with a public

entity such as a school, medical clinic or a community center that was situated at close proximity to the interventions. This instilled a sense of ownership to the projects and ensured the projects were well maintained throughout the time they stayed up. By analyzing whether the project displays core characteristics outlined above one can gauge its success through the lens of urban acupuncture; Small Scale• All the interventions are limited to 500 -1000 sqft projects. (Playground in San Augustine was constructed in an area of 500 sqft with a total budget of only US$ 13,500) Collective Potential• The first phase of the project saw the completion of 14 different interventions, in lots that were both privately and publicly owned.26 •

In their most basic form, by having the lots occupied and lit at night the crime rate in area was significantly reduced.

26. Anna Mackenzie, “Estonoesunsolar: Finding Opportunity in Emptiness in Zaragoza, Spain,” Project for Public Spaces, May 25, 2015, , accessed January 16, 2018, https://www.pps.org/article/notempty-plot-finding-opportunityemptiness-historical-cityzaragoza-2. Fig. 21: Strategy Analysis

Fast paced/ rapid• The small interventions were constructed using materials that were easy to procure, and put together (San Pablo garden lot was mainly constructed using wooden boxes and crates that are utilized in produce transportation). Multifaceted • The different interventions also utilized local labor, through which the youth of area were able to have a temporary job Some of the major criticisms on this project were that certain interventions, due to their temporary nature deteriorated quickly. Some interventions were also not used as much as the designers and the officials had anticipated, however, the fast paced, temporary nature of the projects also allowed for more trial and error.

Strategy Analysis



Neighborhood Scale

The numerous cities that make up the built environment can

be spatially broken down into different neighborhoods. In the article “Flood resilience assessment of New Orleans neighborhood over time (2013)” a neighborhood is laid out as an entity that provides functions such as housing, social services, city services, and commercial activities. These functions would then create flows and connections within the neighborhood system. Depending on the neighborhood it may offer these activities in varying degree or mixes. The history, social mixes and the functions nestled within a neighborhood system gives the neighborhood its own identity and character that allows it to have individuality within the larger context of the city.

In flood resiliency the focus is still vastly on large scale preventative

engineering solutions rather than small scale strategies that are rooted in a smaller spatial dimension. Since neighborhoods act as a social, economic and technical system, just as city would, studying neighborhood flood resiliency will also involve a holistic approach. And due to the inherent scale limitation, the strategies proposed will equally be comparatively small scale complying with the characteristics of the theories discussed before (urban acupuncture and Dutch layered approach). By studying the interdependencies between neighborhood-system elements such as people, buildings, transport and energy systems it is evident that these dependencies can severely be affected in the case of a flood event.

Core Characteristics •

Locality/ Special Character- Each neighborhood has its own unique identity and individuality. This identity could be a result of the architectural style of the area, history and culture or even due to the social mixes that constitute a given area.

Social Connections- Due to being spatially smaller than large cities, the neighborhood dimension tends to have more social capitol and tight knit social connections. Aspects such as religious groups, home owners associations, neighborhood community organization increase the familiarity between people.

Collective dependencies – Collective dependencies between core neighborhood elements such as residential, commercial, and

34 recreational, and the connectors, such as transport and streets that connect these elements to one another. •

A Unit- The ability to function as a singular unit, while being a part of a larger spatial entity such as city.

This thesis will aim to preserve or take into consideration the above characteristic when applying flood resiliency in the neighborhood scale.

Fig. 22: Neighborhood Scale Characteristics


Precedent Study: Potsdamer Platz

Potsdamer Platz can be identified as a location that not only

acted as a convergent point that is bustling with urban activity but also with great historic importance. In the 1920s Potsdamer Platz represented the shinning future of the modern metropolis of Berlin. The city suffered severe destruction during the World War II and Potsdamer Platz became a dark and bleak place during this time. With the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989, and Berlin becoming the federal capital of reunited Germany, Potsdamer Platz was viewed as a site with great potential that was situated within the city center.

While the different buildings in the complex were designed by

several different architects (The Sony Center by Architect Helmut Jahn and Daimler-Benz site by Renzo Piano Building Workshop) the whole scheme was unified through Landscape Architect Atelier Dreiseitl’s water landscape, “Urban Waters”. With the primary focus of reducing urban heat island effects as well as well as threats of flooding during the heavy rainfall seasons, the scheme consists of a series of surface pools and underground cisterns. In certain areas the water elements become features that engage with the public, while in other areas they are backgrounded to only cater to their primary functions and in other instances where they are completely hidden from the public’s eye. For example the polygonal pool near Marlene-Dietrich Platz is fed by an unassuming vegetation laden canal that runs along the Sony center. The rainwater runoffs from the surrounding buildings are systematically treated using the surface pools and vegetated filtration areas that are then store water, using the underground cisterns. The whole filtration process takes about three days, after which the cistern water is used in the buildings as grey water (toilet flushing and landscaping). The whole scheme has been designed to slow-down the discharge into the adjacent Landwehrkanal canal and to avoid flash flood scenarios.27 27. Dreiseitl, H., & Grau, D. (2005). New waterscapes: Planning, building and designing with water. Basel; Boston: Birkhäuser. 46-49

The aim would be to instill the above identified core characteristics from the three different concepts as much as possible in the subsequent interventions that would be carried out in the chosen neighborhood of study- The Woodlands.


Fig. 23: Movement of water through Potsdamer Platz Fig. 24: Strategy Analysis


Strategy Analysis


Page Intentionally Left Blank





strategies are broken down into three categories and will be re-examined through the lens of the theoretical framework outlined in the previous chapter. Then a matrix of strategies will





how the existing strategies can be manipulated





the present flood conditions better.


Current Strategies of Flood Resiliency

Flood resiliency requires integration of long-term strategies

with the immediate needs of flood prevention, and as a result a variety of different strategies to reduce negative impacts of flooding have been explored in different fields. Some of these explorations have been practically applied and implemented while there are others that are being still being developed as conceptual ideas. This chapter will highlight some of these key strategies and their strengths as well as shortcomings.

Here on the different strategies are broken down into

three overarching categories for ease of understanding and analyzing.

Engineering Infrastructure

Engineering infrastructure consists mainly of large scale barrier

embankments and preventative measures (such as dikes, flood gates, retention and detention areas, over flow canals etc.). Such infrastructure is often considered as the primary line of defense against flood conditions as well as what many cities rely on to achieve flood resiliency. While it is extremely vital to have such infrastructure (especially in the areas with high flood risk and high flood elevation), these strategies are often criticized for being inflexible. Engineering infrastructure due to their specialized nature also requires long term visions, longer project time lines as well as costly budgetary requirements. Refer to table 1.1 for detail list of strategies considered in this thesis project

Structural Flood Proofing

Designing for resiliency is instilled using location and structural

means in this category. These strategies are applied at individual building scale and are more commonly integrated along with design and architectural aspects. These strategies can be carried out in multiple scales, either through a city-wide application or at the scale of an individual home. Structural flood proofing is also popular due to its ability to be applied in retrofit scenarios. Refer to table 1.2 for detail list of strategies considered in this thesis project

Structural Flood Proofing Fig. 25: Chapter 04 cover image

With the realization of inadequacies in many physical and land use

based strategies to prevent flood damage, many started recognizing the need for natural and ecological management techniques to achieve flood

resiliency. The purposes of such ecological strategies were to understand


and deploy systems that would benefit the existing ecological patterns while decreasing the damage caused by flood events.28 Such ecological infrastructure often consists of natural and semi-natural areas with other. Refer to table 1.3 for detail list of strategies considered in this thesis project

What is missing?

The engineering infrastructure that is often considered to be the

backbone of flood prevention requires long term vision, large budgets and meticulous planning. However, when executed well these largescale preventive measures can ensure the protection of a large area against unfavorable flood conditions. However they are often inflexible and have less adaptability to the changing magnitude of such disasters.

Structural flood proofing is widely used at the individual building

scale and is implemented in many areas as a post-disaster rebuilding strategy. Due to the scale at which they are implemented the responsibility of execution and realization often devolves to the individual property or home owner. A positive on these structural flood proofing approaches are that they are somewhat flexible and have the potential to adapt to the increasing intensity of flood events. Structural flood proofing methods are often criticized for not responding to the surrounding context (connection to the street and pedestrians). For example, the elevated structures would lose their connection with the street and dry flood proofing using marine grade materials can make the buildings appear uninviting to pedestrians.

In the recent years many have opted to focus on ecological

infrastructure for flood prevention, however, there are still only a handful of projects that have successfully implemented such strategies. Even those implemented are small scale interventions rather than being large-scale city-wide applications. The ecological infrastructure is known to have multiple benefits other than being a successful flood preventive strategy however due to still being a novel approach many refrain from exploring them to full potential.

It is clear that the three distinctive preventive strategies identified

here are separate in their own discipline/ area when being executed

28. Heather Forbes, Kathryn Ball, and Fiona McLay, Natural Flood Management Handbook, PDF, Stirling: Scottish Environment Protection Agency, July 2015.


even though they are all meant to address the same issues of flooding. Integrations and crossovers between these strategies are few and far between. Furthermore most of the strategies by themselves failed to address one of the key requirements needed in a flood preventive strategy: the adaptability. While many researchers agree that a level of flexibility and adaptability can be achieved by combining “gray” infrastructure (engineering and structural) with “green” (ecological infrastructure) and “soft” infrastructure (policy and management)29 such opportunities are rarely explored. It is evident that by layering strategies or by burrowing elements from different strategies and combining them into one might unpack interesting new possibilities that goes a step beyond the traditional flood preventive strategies.

The Matrix of Strategies

For the purpose of this thesis, the matrix of strategies outlined

below serves as a toolkit. Rather than simply outlining the different strategies in their mainstream categories mentioned above the matrix explores the possible overlaps and crossovers to create hybrid strategies. This allows a strategy with a single focus to become multi-faceted and to solve or serve multiple problems or functions. Some of them are merely combining strategies with other elements of spatial planning (parks, pathways, edge conditions etc.) while others are trying to reinterpret strategies in one category using the principles of another. For example a dike’s fundamental purpose is to prevent undesired flooding along a water way, but instead of having a barrier structure, forming a continuous edge along a water way using a series of dry flood proofed buildings can also serve the purpose of a dike. There by becoming a row of “dike-houses”.

The thesis premise revolves around the idea of implementing

multiple interventions that act as an added layer of protection assisting the conventional large-scale engineering infrastructure.

Hence part

of the matrix also explores possibilities to reinterpret strategies by experimenting with their scale of application.

For example taking

principals from the strategy- “Flood-able Park” and scaling it down to the 29. Field, Christopher B. Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. PDF. New York, 2014.

individual building scale might result in a “flood-able courtyard” within a building. Further scaling down the strategy into the scale of a singular design element can result in exploring the possibilities of implementing a water-catching planter that could be paired with urban furniture.

Some of the combinations that are in this matrix outline ideas


that have been applied in previous projects (both conceptual and real) while there are others that are novel and have no previous precedents to ensure their effectiveness. Once sites for different interventions are chosen within the selected neighborhood of study (The Woodlands), through a method of elimination a strategy that is best suited for the given situation will be selected.

Strategies will be eliminated by

taking into account aspects such as the type of flooding occurring in the area, requirements of the site, how people engage with the site, site hydrology, soil profile and any other applicable contextual drivers.

Fig. 26: Matrix of Strategies




This chapter introduces the

readers to the location of the case study project. Historic and background information on the city of Houston as a whole is provided with an added emphasis on the neighborhood area (The Woodlands) that was selected for the study. A mapping study will highlight important aspects such as projected future growth, demographics and flood plain data to highlight their







Houston, once the capital of the state of Texas and currently

the most populous city30 in the state is located in the southern edge of the United States near the Gulf of Mexico. Historically, Galveston (the ocean fronted neighboring city) was the first to flourish in the region. Formally known as one of the main port cities, Galveston prospered due to its direct access to trade routes. Houston even though not at the same scale, was slowly yet certainly developing at its own pace. The freight wagons and the railroads converged in this small town en route to Galveston and as a result soon became popular as the city “where 17 railroads met the sea”.31 Development and growth was inevitable 30. “Houston city, Texas”. QuickFacts. U.S. Census Bureau. July 1, 2016. Retrieved October 20, 2017.

for Houston and the process only sped up after the construction of the

31. Carol M. Highsmith and Ted Landphair, Houston: deep in the heart. Houston, TX: Houston International Protocol Alliance, 2000, 17.

city itself prospered party due to the misfortunes faced by the city of

Fig. 27: Chapter 05 cover image Fig. 28: Growth of Houston

Buffalo Bayou. Despite being 50 miles north from the ocean, Houston became its own port city when the first steamboat made its way up the Buffalo Bayou to Houston in 1844. The port of Houston and the Galveston during the 1900 hurricane. Instead of rebuilding Galveston, many decided to move up North to Houston in search of safer land.

Today, nicknamed as the “space city” Houston is home to

a broad range of industries ranging from energy, transportation, manufacturing and aeronautics. It has grown to become one of the most racially and ethnically diverse, metropolitan cities of the country.

Flooding in Houston


Having a majority of the land area located in the low lying coastal

plain, that is flat with less permeable clay-silt prairie soils, along with an average annual rainfall of approx. 50 inches means that flooding is not a new phenomenon in Houston. Despite the city having an intensive natural hydrological system (that consists of series of streams, creeks and bayous) due to the superseding amount of impervious ground cover, along with the unregulated development and sprawl that has taken place in the city, there is an increase in the adverse effects of flooding.

Following the Galveston hurricane in 1900, the city faced flood

events in 1929, and 1935 before the city officials took required measures to initiate the Harris County Flood Control District in 1937. After the passing of U.S congress’s rivers and harbors act, as a preventative measure, funds were allocated for the construction of the two major reservoirs in the city- Addicks and Baker. The Weather Research Center reports Houston has had about 175 significant floods since 1937, and 120 of them since the reservoirs opened,32 showing that the reservoirs instead of solving the problems, made the flood conditions worse for the city. Whenever the reservoirs were saturated and the sluice gates were opened, the areas downstream were instantly affected with flash flood conditions. This highlights how and integrated approach to water or flood management is required, for constructing a reservoir with no adequate reservations downstream can actually increased the effects of flooding.

32. Debbie Z. Harwell, “Letter from the Editor: Wrecks and Redemption, 15.1,� Houston History Magazine, , accessed November 03, 2017, https:// houstonhistorymagazine. org/2017/11/letter-fromthe-editor-wrecks-andredemption-15-1/. Fig. 29: Houston suburban sprawl


Since the most recent flood event that resulted from hurricane

Harvey, it is evident that the frequency and the intensity of such weather related events are increasing significantly beyond what was historically predicted. As a result resources such as the FEMA flood plain maps, reservations, setbacks etc, and other related standards have become increasingly outdated and inaccurate. These maps do not capture interdependencies that exist within the city and fail to identify the city as a holistic system. Especially in the case of Houston, the flood maps fail to take into account aspects such as aging and over stressed infrastructure, high levels of impervious surfaces, unregulated






The Woodlands

The notion of “civilization” required humans to replace their

natural environment with neatly trimmed farmlands, well ordered villages and towns which catered for their living requirements, recreation and companionship. The American dream was deeply rooted in the 33. Nash, Roderick. Wilderness and the American Mind. Yale University Press, 1982. Pp. 23-36 Fig. 30: Timeline of Flood Events in Houston

need to progress towards an ever-increasing good life and this idea was dependent on the ability of man-made elements such as the well ordered villages and towns to coexist with the “unspoiled” nature.33 However the natural environment was stressed and even in danger of irreversible depletion in some areas by the 1960s at the end of two devastating wars, technological and industrial boom. Suddenly the Americans found themselves in a world that they did not recognize nor

understand with a nostalgic need to go back to the “good old days�.


Consequently a series of policies and statutes such as the 1969

National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the 1972 Clean Water Act, the 1965 Housing and Urban Development Act, and the 1968 Urban Growth and New Community act were enacted to counter the accelerated social and environmental degradation. And within this larger context The Woodlands, Texas, was a manifestation of wanting to achieve a balance between the man made and the nature as a solution for suburban sprawl.

Just like any master-planned community project, the Woodlands

required a significant amount of fiscal support, a planning effort and a uncompromised vision. This idea was propelled by an individual named, George Mitchell. Mitchell was a self made businessman who owned the Mitchell Energy & Development Company which was known as one of the largest private petroleum producing companies in the country at the time. Due to the volatile nature of the petroleum business and the constant price fluctuations in the international markets in the early 1960s he decides to venture into the real estate industry and as a result the Woodlands project was initiated. George Mitchell did not conform to the usual reputation or the image of an oil businessman and as a result,

34. George T. Morgan and John O. King, Woodlands: New Community Development, 1964-1983(Unspecified, 1987). Pp 6-8

of social and environmental stewardship more than profit making.34

Fig. 31: Location of Woodlands Planned Community

Fig. 32: Woodlands anticipated growth

in the case of the Woodlands project, he emphasized the importance

While over time different entities and personnel have been



hired by the Woodlands Cooperation to support its planning and design process the initial team George Mitchell put together consisted of WMRT led by Ian McHarg as the Ecological consultant, Willian L. Pereira, Architect /Urban Planner, Robert L. Gladstone as the Economics consultant and Richard P. Browne as the Engineering and Institutional Programming consultant. One of the key aspects that set the Woodlands apart from the conventional suburban development was its decision to preserve as much of the prevailing ecological and hydrological conditions. This vision was realized by bringing in Ian McHarg, the ecologist and landscape architect who was known “to put nature before profits”.35

The funding for the project was sourced through a combination of

private and public funds. The majority of these private funds came from Mitchell Energy & Development Cooperation and the public funding was supplied through The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in the form of phased out loans. Even though these funds, along with the planning and designing efforts of the Woodlands project team, managed to inaugurate the first village (Gorgan’s Mill) for the public in 1974, the project faced difficulties in meeting the construction timeline and goals during the period of 1974-1977. One contributing factor was the delay in receiving the guaranteed loans from the HUD, due to its internal administration issues and the financial crisis during that time period.

Fully realized with eight separate residential villages and a

significantly sized town center, the Woodlands today is home to about 110,000 people and continues to grow attracting, more population as well as development

Ian McHarg’s Ecological Planning Methods in Context Ian McHarg, known as one of the leading ecologist-landscape architects of his time, in his rather influential book “Designing with Nature” identified an inventory of different ecological conditions and corresponding low impact planning strategies. The Woodlands project was one of the initial attempts in trying to apply these ecological 35. Dennis Farley, “Land Politics: Ian McHarg,” Atlantic Monthly, January 1974, PP12

strategies, explained in his research, within a practical context. Some of the key aspects of this planning methodology are as follows;

A thorough inventory and analysis of the existing ecological


conditions (Some of the ecological conditions considered are hydrology, water quality, geology, wildlife & micro climate) •

According to the above analysis a maximum allowable intensity for development was then determined to different areas of the project lands area.

A set of site specific design and planning guidelines were then developed according to the results from the above studies.36

The ecological study conducted by WMRT for the Woodlands

using the method outlined above concluded that the project area encompassed issues relating to drainage, flooding and ground water depletion. The traditional methods of construction and water management strategies would not have addressed the above issues hence WMRT proposed a variety of creative drainage solutions that tried to minimize the disruption to the natural and already existing hydrological and geological conditions. For example, areas with soil with low permeable soils were suggested for higher intensity construction while areas with soil that allowed for high permeability were advised to be preserved and limited to low intensity construction. This process eventually led McHarg to develop seven goals for applications pertaining to land use aspects of the project. •

Minimum disruption of the surface and subsurface hydrological regimen.

Preservation of the Woodland environment

Establishment of a natural drainage system in floodplains, swales, ponds, and on recharge soils.

Preservation of vegetation noted for species’ diversity

Provision of wildlife habitats and movement corridors

Minimizing development costs

Avoidance of hazards to life or health37

For a summary of strategies and recommendations in McHarg’s project guidelines for the Woodlands Township please refer to table 2.

36. Daniel S. Smith and Paul Cawood. Hellmund, Ecology of greenways: design and function of linear conservation areas(Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993), 196-201. 37. George T. Morgan and John O. King, Woodlands: New Community Development, 1964-1983(Unspecified, 1987). Pp 34-36


Project realizations & Shortcomings

The Woodlands project has come a long way from its initial

residential village opening to the public 43 years ago. The subsequent seven other residential villages and the town center have been completed and continue to grow in terms of population and other facilities. Morgan and King capture the initial history and project implementation aspects of the Woodlands thoroughly, especially the financial difficulties the project under went during the time periods of 1975-1978.38 However what the literature fails to capture is whether these financial difficulties, other than resulting a delay in the construction time line, caused any sort of design and planning shortcomings as well. Morgan and King’s book fails to capture the effects on the Woodlands project during the ownership and leadership turnover, because the timeline of the literature presented in the book is limited to 1964-1983.” One of the key goals in Goerge Mitchell’s vision for this new township was to achieve a balance between the man-made and the nature while extending that balance to the social strata, by becoming an inclusive and diverse community. The monograph identifies that, despite having some affordable housing units, the project failed to achieve the socioeconomc mix it aimed for. According to the latest census data more that 65% of the Woodlands population earns a median income of $75,000 or more and 88.10% of the racial makeup consists of Caucasian residents.39 38. George T. Morgan and John O. King, Woodlands: New Community Development, 1964-1983(Unspecified, 1987). Pp 34-36 39. “The Woodlands – Resources/ Demographics,” accessed November 10, 2017, http:// www.thewoodlands.com/ resources/sit1/General/ Dempgraphics_123116_FINAL. pdf. 40. Roger Galatas and Jim Barlow, The Woodlands: the inside story of creating a better hometown (Washington, D.C.: ULI-the Urban Land Institute, 2004), 37-40.

The ecological site strategies that were recommended for

the project were strictly followed in the first two residential villagesGorgan’s Mill and Panther Creek. There was a clear deviation from the recommendation by the early 1980’s and Galatas and Barlow identify those deviations were a result of homeowner requests. This highlights some of the shortcomings of McHarg’s ecological strategies. For example, McHarg favored runoff being addressed in individual lots itself, rather than being carried over and dealt with elsewhere. In his perception this was essential for ground water recharge. However this strategy was not successfully embraced by the home owners, because it meant that the water would get collected in a low-lying area in the individual backyards making it impossible to be utilized during rainy days. In certain cases if the water remained stagnant in the backyards for few days the owners raised concerns about those areas becoming mosquito breeding grounds.40 The uncleared wooded

areas behind the individual sites were also viewed as a threat for security. Hence open swales were one of the first strategies that slowly started disappearing from the planned community. However this could also be a result of lack of education and awareness provided to the home owners on the ecological strategies utilized in the project and the importance of employing such a system.

The text also captures a longer time

frame and highlights how almost all of the ecological recommendations were completely abandoned after the ownership of The Woodlands Development Company changed from being a subsidiary of Mitchell Energy & Development Corporation to Crescent Real Estate Equities and Morgan Stanley Real Estate Fund. After 1997 the development utilized little to no natural ecological strategies that had been initially planned for the Woodlands project while the speed of construction gained momentum.

Furthermore the data from National Oceanic and Atmospheric

Administration suggests that the Woodlands survived with little to no harm from the storms that occurred in 1979, 1987 and 1994 as opposed to the southern areas of the city that faced significant damages. However the Woodlands area was significantly affected from the storms that occurred in 2000 and 2008 (Hurricane Ike) even though the magnitude of those storms was similar to previous storms. However the available literature fails to scientifically strengthen the above statement. Another possibility to consider is that in the earlier time periods much of the northern areas of the project remained undeveloped thereby allowing for more permeability upstream. During the late 1960’s when McHrag was laying out the strategies & appropriate areas for development for the Woodlands, 50 and 100 year flood plain data was taken into consideration. Even though 50 years ago using the 50 and 100 year flood plain maps for development was appropriate, the city as a whole is now facing weather events of larger magnitude.


belief more to







McHarg’s when



different ecological comes


to water

opinions, planning flood







compared approaches.



Mapping Study

Several Mapping studies were carried out in the area of study to

gain a thorough understanding of its morphology, future development patterns as well as problems of flooding. This study not only allowed to gain a deeper understanding about the underlying reasons for flooding but also allowed n identification of key pressure points (problematic sites) that would then later be evaluated for the purpose of carrying out interventions.

Figure-Ground Map

The figure ground map highlights the building inventory of the

selected site area. Fairly large scale high-rise buildings are located in the downtown area. The building density becomes higher closer to the edge of the water, where the land meets Lake Woodlands. The change in building density occurs when the buildings use changes from commercial to residential.

Surface Study Map Fig. 33: Figure-ground map

This highlights the existing large impervious surfaces in

the selected site area. It is evident that a number of these are large surface parking lots that are located in and around the downtown area.


Green Areas Map

Green areas, small water front parks and walking trails

are dispersed more towards the water and the residential area, while the downtown area in general lacks such open spaces. It











surfaces are significantly greater than the pervious green areas.

Fig. 34: Surface Study map Fig. 35: Green Areas map


Existing Land Use Map

The downtown area significantly consists of commercial and mixed

land uses and this slowly transitions to multifamily housing which then transitions into single family detached housing closer to the Woodlands Lake. This map also highlights how over the whole site area there is still quite a bit of vacant land area that is currently just left vacant or used for surface parking.

2040 Land Use Map

The 2040 land use map is similar to the existing land use

map with commercial and mixed use functions concentrated in the downtown area, which then transitions into residential use towards the Lake woodlands. However one difference that is evident is that the existing vacant lots (most of which are in the flood plain areas) are also occupied and utilized for varying land use purposes in the 2040 map. For example the Mitchell Island located in the Lake woodlands is located in the 100 year flood plain. This whole area is Fig. 36: Existing Land-use map

currently unoccupied and remains as a green area, however, in the 2040 map it’s proposed to be fully developed for residential use.


Geology of the Area

Green areas, small water front parks and walking trails

are dispersed more towards the water and the residential area, while the downtown area in general lacks such open spaces. It











surfaces are significantly greater than the pervious green areas.

Fig. 37: 2040 Land-use map Fig. 38: Soil type map


Flood Plain Map

Being one of the most important maps for this thesis

exploration, the flood plain map highlights the 100-year (dark blue) and 500-year flood plain line(light blue) and the areas that got affected from Hurricane Harvey (yellow) excluding the areas identified as 100/500 year flood plains. While some of the destruction took place close to the water there were other areas located away from water. This shed light into the fact that there are not only problems of flooding in the area but also problems of storm water management.

Fig. 39: Floodplain map Fig. 40, 42, 44, 46: Typical images of initial development in line with ecological planning methods

Comparative Photographic Study

Fig. 41, 43, 45, 47: Typical images of current development

Ian McHarg’s design recommendations) and the current design

Below is a photographic survey showing a comparison

between the initial design and construction ethic (in line with approach taken by the developers of the Woodlands Township.




This chapter outlines the different

pressure points and the corresponding non-heirachical interventions for those problematic areas. The different sites are analyzed and then a couple of different strategies from the matrix are applied to test their applicability to the given situation .



The mesh-work consists of a network of non-hierarchical

interventions that try to address different pressure points in the selected site area. In the initial phase of the project these separate interventions will merely be acupuncture nodes that act independently from one another however after allowing them to develop over time even inter-linkages between the different nodes will be a possibility creating a secondary layer of defense against flooding in the form of an intricate meshwork.

Site Selection

The individual pressure points to be addressed will be selected by

overlaying the different mapping studies conducted in the initial project stages. By over lapping the areas affected by hurricane Harvey with other morphological data the relevant pressure points will be identified. Overlaying of different maps is a crucial step in this process because it allows one to see beyond just the areas that got affected from the most recent hurricane events. For an example the flood plain maps show that the Mitchell Island got affected from the hurricane Harvey, however, when the current figure ground map is overlaid on the flood plain map it is evident that the Mitchell island is currently vacant, therefore no damage to lives or property was caused through the inundation of the island. However as soon as the 2040 projected land use map is overlaid it is clear that the Island is going to get fully developed by 2040. Therefore even though no damage was caused during Harvey, when the next major flood event comes around the occupants of the island will be severely affected. Hence the island could be identified as a pressure point requiring an intervention by considering its future use.

The Interventions

It is evident that the above identified pressure points share

commonalities between them. These commonalities range from the type of flooding (over bank), fluvial, or pluvial flooding) to the type of surface treatment or to their location. For the purpose of this thesis, from the above identified pressure points three specific sites (pressure points) will be identified to carry out site-specific interventions. The premise is that the Fig. 48: Chapter 6 Cover Image

three selected sites will address three different flood conditions. Thereby the interventions would also be three completely different approaches. However since some of the pressure


Site 1: Residential Waterfront

Site 1 is located in the western edge of the selected study area,

adjourning the LakeWoodlands.This area consists of predominantly residential development, and is in fact one of the most sought-after areas to live in the whole development due to expansive views from the site and other amenities. The buildings in the area are mainly single family detached houses with several condominium and mid-rise apartment buildings scattered between.

The Analysis

Adjourning the lake Woodlands, the single family detached houses

located in this area is less than (approximately) 25 feet away from the waterfront with less than 2 feet of vertical elevation change. Most of the houses are located in the designated 500-year flood plain and yet the area was severely affected during hurricane Harvey. Some houses were up to 1-2 feet under water, while others were not affected at all depending on

Fig. 49: The pressure points


the location. But even the in households that were not directly affected people were trapped inside the houses due to the access roadways being underwater. According to FEMA flood zone categorization this residential area is a combination of A /AO zone (100-year flood plain) & B Zones41 (500year floodplain) and as a result should have had a design flood elevation of a minimum 3-4 feet.42 However upon visiting the site it was clear that even the lots that were filled were a mere 2 feet above the ground.

While the residents extremely value the waterfront views, due

to absence of an edge treatment that brings residents to the edge of the water the interaction with water remains minimum. Currently the residents would take strolls along the sidewalk along the water rather than engaging themselves with the water. Furthermore privacy and exclusivity is extremely valued between the residents of the area

The Solution

The most common solution for the above site would be to elevate the

houses at least 4 feet above the ground to achieve a safety against flooding. However this would mean having to retrofit and rearrange some of the interior and exterior uses of the houses located in the flood prone areas. This also means that the street condition along with the existing connections houses have with the street will change significantly. Instead, it is worth exploring different strategies that can be deployed between the houses and the wateredge leaving the houses as they are. Following are some of key strategies 41. “FEMA Flood Map Service Center.” FEMA, Department of Homeland Security, msc.fema.gov/portal/ search?AddressQuery=the oodlands#searchresultsanchor. 42. “Home Builders Guide to Coastal Construction: Designing for Flood levels above BFE.” FEMA, July 2006. Fig. 50: Site 1 analysis and strategies

that were extracted from the Matrix and explored to be deployed in this site. •

The berm- Constructing a continuous soil berm around the perimeter of the water body. The height of the berm could be 3-4 feet, the suggested design flood level for the area. To still maintain the connection with water, the berm will also have steps and decks that lead residents closer to the water. However this strategy will create a visual obstruction between the lake and the street / residential frontage. Also if the berm was compromised and water makes its way to the street/ residential area it will be hard to empty the water and it will remain flooded for a prolonged time.



The Floating Street- The strategy explores the possibility to retrofit the street that wraps around the waterfront. The solution is to make waterfront streets buoyant, making sure that not only the access streets will remain un-compromised during disaster but they will also act as areas of temporary retention that will collect water, preventing it from reaching the houses. This strategy can also be simplified so that waterfront streets will have a pre-cast retention tank that would collect the overflow water from lake. However installation of such a system in the given area would be challenging due to the clay soil conditions as well as the inconvenience and the cost (replacing the service lines, and existing drain that are located under the street system) that would be associated with it.

The Sponge Edge- The sponge edge tries to increase the surface area near the water edge by creating small mounds, not only to increase the edge height naturally to block the water flow but to act as surface area that would soak in the small amounts of day to day water level changes.

Tree Box Retention- This strategy looks at the possibility of retaining water using a pre-cast tree planter that would not only allow for the growth of the tree but also contain a chamber underneath to retain water. While individual planter may only collect a small amount of water collectively when deployed in numbers it will retain a substantial amount of water.

The Merged Edge- A combination between man-made wetlands and permeable steps would not only impede the flood waves during a disaster but also act as an effective way of managing storm water during the regular monsoon season. The wetlands will also try to recreate the border ecology between land and water that has been lost due to the development in the area and would try to increase the interactivity between the residents and their waterfront. The steps could be gradually raised in high risk areas while not so much in low risk areas allowing enough safety without losing the connection with the lake. Residents could benefit from increased bird habitat for recreational viewing

Since the merged edge is a good compromise between increasing the interactivity with water, improving the ecology

and acquiring safety from a shallow flood condition this strategy will be conceptually deployed in the selected site 1

Site 2: Impervious Parking Lot

Site 2 is located in the North Eastern edge of the selected study area,

adjourning one of the main thoroughfares ( I-45) that connect Woodlands to Downtown Houston. In contrast to the previous site, this site is located in the downtown core and away from any type of water body. The site is a large surface parking lot that is servicing a few large stores such as Target, Marshalls, Outdoor sports, Toy R us, etc. Around the site there are also a few chain restaurants with their own individual parking lots.

The Analysis

The site is located in the downtown core, in the designated

commercial- mixed land use zone. Since the site is not at close proximity to a body of water, it is not in a FEMA designated flood zone. However due to the ineffective surface storm water management system in place and the excessive amount of impermeable surfaces present in and around the site, this area has become prone to flooding. In general the downtown area lacks green open space, because as highlighted in the mapping study the green areas are concentrated towards the residential areas. The site has an existing axis from the woodlands mall side and also a strong edge condition formed all around the site in the form of trees. In general the town’s roadways are lined with trees on either sides and give a true impression of a “wood-land�. However away from the roads it looks just like any suburban town with excessive amounts of surface parking and sprawling development.

The most amount of activity in the site is concentrated near the

bigger stores like Target while relatively less activity is concentrated near the smaller chain restaurants. The surface parking lot has tried to incorporate some greenery in the islands separating the parking isles but these are not effectively designed to accommodate natural drainage or to improve pedestrian experience when navigating through the lot. At a glance it almost feels like the amount of parking provided in this site is excessive and that there would be room to cut down some of it. But upon visiting the site it was evident that there was in fact a high demand for parking in the given area and sometimes during peak hours and weekends it was almost impossible to find a free parking spot.



The Solution

The obvious solution for the above site would be to introduce

greenery into the site through which the permeability of the site can be increased. Since the amount of existing parking spots provided cannot be compromised during this process it becomes an interesting challenge as to how both these key goals could be achieved through an intervention.

Following are some of key strategies that were

extracted from the Matrix and explored to be deployed in this site. •

Pixelated Parking Lot- The first strategy explores how pervious surfaces can be introduced to the site by almost mimicking a pixelation pattern with the individual 9x18 ft lots. Taking advantage of the natural tree edge at the end of the site, the gradual greening of the site will try to create a micro drainage pattern within the site. The added greenery would also mean that the pedestrian experience within the parking lot will be much more pleasant, compared to the existing condition. However this becomes counter intuitive when it comes to meeting increasing the existing parking area.

Underground Retention- Channeling the excess water as well as the water collected from the grey roofs of the adjourning buildings into an underground retention area would also solve the issue of flooding in this site. However the silt and clay mix sub soils in the area could adversely affect underground retention. Furthermore execution of this strategy will not in any way improve the day to day pedestrian experience when navigating through the large parking lot.

Water collecting Canopy- The third strategy is exploring ideas that would deliver easy and fast construction on site. As a result the solution suggested in this instance is a series of precast canopies. The diagram explores two possibilities for the canopies, one being a canopy with green foliage to soak in and slow down the flow of rain water and the other being a canopy that is designed to collect and channel water. This strategy still does not explore how the pedestrian experience of the site can benefit by executing this strategy.

Fig. 51: Site 2 analysis and strategies

The Green Plaza-

As mentioned in the site analysis portion the

whole downtown area lacks outdoor public space. This strategy



tries to address this issue while resolving the issue of efficient storm water management. The whole parking area will be converted to a “green plazaâ€? while parking will be underground beneath the plaza. This would also increase the area allocated for parking. After parking in the underground parking structure, people would gain access to the plaza level through glass elevator shafts. From there walking to •

any of the stores would be similar to taking a stroll in an urban park. Terraced Parking Garage- Taking the previous strategy a step further, in this strategy parking provided using a couple of parking structures spread out in the site, which is then inter-connected using terraced walk ways, stepped pathways and elevated platforms which are also designed to capture rainwater and improve the pedestrian experience in the site. By ensuring that the parking garage is above ground rather than underground not only would it reduce costs associated with construction but also looks at the possibility for the structure to be reused in the future for a different purpose since it is located in a prime area.

Since the terrace parking garage addresses the current issues of the site and tries to anticipate some of the future uses of the site, it is chosen as the most suitable strategy for the above site.

Site 3: The Boat Rental

Located in the middle of the selected study area, the third and

final site of study is located next to the woodlands canal, presenting its own set of challenges. It is not inaccurate to state that this site is located at a point where the western residential area starts to converge with the commercial/ mixed use area. The canal that is located in the area of the site connects the lake woodlands to the woodlands waterway/ Lake Robinson that is located in downtown. The site also has an existing kayak rental that was severely affected during hurricane Harvey. Hence the challenge for this given site was exploring possible ways to make the existing kayak rental flood resilient while serving the community.

The Analysis

The site is surrounded by quite a few important gathering

points of the township, like the Cynthia Mitchell outdoor pavilion, town




the Woodlands

library. The


is located in the south bank of the canal, which is more residential. Beyond the thick foliage and a tree-lined access road, there are town houses, multifamily apartments and similar residential buildings with high levels of privacy and security. Contrastingly the north bank by nature is more public and easy to access. The north bank also has the town trolley servicing that area as well as the town waterway cruiser. Due to this public nature of the North bank it was decided that the boat house should be move to the North bank from its current location in the South bank. It would benefit from the high levels of moving traffic as well as the ease of accessibility.

There is also a direct axis from the town market square through

the town Green Park to the water front which would be right about where the new boat house would be located. At this point in the site the canal has an attractive drop/ slip way of approximately 10 feet. The water coming from upstream cascades down at this point to a lower elevation and continues its way downstream to Lake Woodlands creating an interesting and dynamic point both in the canal as well as on ground.

The site is also in the FEMA designated AO floodplain zone

and could anticipate a base flood level of minimum 3 feet. Hence the design flood elevation for the building should have been 5ft above the existing ground level to gain minimum level of protection. However with the function of the building (to be able to carry boats and kayaks in and out of storage with ease) it is required for it to be situated closer to the water with minimum level changes. Hence the challenge in this given situation is designing a resilient building that has a functional requirement to be located in the hazardous floodplain.

The Solution

The following strategies explores how a building that requires

to be located in the floodplain can be constructed with resiliency and longevity in mind •

Retreat- The first strategy looks at the possibility of retreating the building away from the floodplain to higher grounds. And creating a public open space between the edge of the canal and the building. However as mentioned before this would not be the ideal condition to bring boats, kayaks etc to and from the water due to the elevation change present in the site.



Dike Boat House- The second strategy explores the possibility of making the first floor (the floor that is closest to the base flood elevation) flood proof by making it dry flood proof. However this would mean that the lower level will not be open and inviting. This strategy doesn’t take full advantage of the building being located in a waterfront site.

Flood-able Lower Level-

Functionally it will be less hazardous to

design a space such as the boat storage, to admit the flood water in and be wet flood proofed. Combining the correct material finishes with other design elements would mean that even if the flood waters come in to the building it will pose minimum damage to the building and would put no humans at danger. •

The Split Building- Similar to above strategy this also explores whether the building can be divided into two separate structures according to their programmatic requirements and adjacency requirements. By splitting the building structurally it envisions that the part of the building located in the floodplain will be buoyant while the part of the building that is on higher grounds will be static.

Bringing the Water in- The idea of water within a building is novel and even considered dangerous for currently it only happens during hazardous events. But can a building be designed in way to celebrate and value water by bringing it into the building. This last strategy tries to go back to the initial premise stated in the abstract of this thesis. Can we design buildings to coexist in harmony with water, even in the form of flooding? Water will be brought in from the canal to intentionally flood the building and this could become a permanent or a seasonal feature of the building. How the building could transform itself during peak flow seasons and how the conditions would be reversed during the dry seasons.

Since this last strategy tries to incorporate the idea of “living Fig. 52: Site 3 analysis and strategies

with water” as means of addressing flood resiliency it would be further explored as a possible strategy for the given site.



Program Considerations

The existing boat/ kayak rental provided the key function for

the new building. However the new building will try to build on the existing program of the boat house and offer something added to the community. The existing building is about 4000 sq.ft. and houses a boat storage and a rental office with water-front docking and hauling space. Upon completing site studies and conducting a site visit it was evident that the area has a high demand for such leisure activities. As a result the new facility will almost double on the boat storage capacity and will also offer spaces to store, rent and repair not only kayaks but also single scull rowing boats, single/ double kayaks and paddle boards. A rental office and storage will be provided to assist the above functions as needed.

Introducing kids to water based leisure activities is another

programmatic element included in the building. Since the premise is to bring water into certain parts of the building, a semi enclosed and supervised pool of water will be utilized as children’s water activity area.

As of now the closest restaurant to the site is located over

1-2 miles away( one has to either go towards downtown or towards the market square) hence a bistro/ café will also be included in the building to supplement the other functions in the building. This area has high foot traffic throughout the day and a great number of people use the pathways along the canal edge for walking/ running and other similar activities. A café located in the midway of this canal pathway could then become resting/stopping point overtime. Furthermore during or after an event at the Cynthia Mitchell open air theater, a cafe at this location could easily attract a large crowd.

As mentioned in the site analysis section, the woodlands

trolley passes through this site and has a stop less than a ½ mile away from the building while the waterway cruiser/ ferry also has its last stop located on the site. Right now there is no demarcation or indication of these stops and only a regular user and a resident of the area would know that these services exist. Hence the building will also have ticketing and information booth as an added programmatic element to service these two means of transportation.

Another one of the key findings from the study was that the


residents of the woodlands area were for the most part unaware of the fact that they could be affected by flooding. The Woodlands community was supposed to be a development that show-cased some of the best practices of ecological design. Only as an aftermath of Harvey most of the resident realized that their homes (and other buildings) were located in the designated floodplain and that the developers have done little to nothing to instill flood safety in the community.43 As a response to this the last programmatic element included in the building is a gallery to promote flood awareness in the community. Since the location of the site is a convergent point between different people and functions it would provide with a great opportunity to carry a greater message to the community as a whole.


The third and final site, as oppose to the previous two sites presented

with an opportunity that allowed it to go beyond just suggesting a resilient strategy to an existing building or condition. Hence even though it was not anticipated in the beginning the last site became a built project of its own almost becoming an anchoring point for the rest of the interventions. Even though the mesh-work was suppose to a set of non-hierarchical interventions due to the opportunities and the way people interacted with the site the third site almost became the focal point of the mesh-work.

Precedent Study: WMS Boathouse at Clark Park

WMS Boathouse by Studio Gang is one of four boat houses that is

intended to adorn the Chicago River bank in the coming years as an effort to revitalize this forgotten and polluted river. The structure is broken into two parts, where one building acts as the boat storage facility and the other as the field office, that is equipped with state-of-the-art training facilities, gymnasium, and administrative areas. The two buildings almost form a portal that is just close enough to keep the two buildings connected but further enough to visually open up the river to the spaces beyond.

The dramatic, undulating roof structure of the boat storage

is an attempt to translate the mesmerizing rhythm of rowing into an architectural form. However the roof delivers more than a mere conceptual

43. Schwartz, John, et al. “Builders Said Their Homes Were Out of a Flood Zone. Then Harvey Came.� The New York Times, The New York Times, 2 Dec. 2017, www.nytimes. com/2017/12/02/us/houstonflood-zone-hurricane-harvey. html.


meaning; the angle of the roof is carefully oriented to capture daylight through clerestory windows and also provide passive solar heating.

The expansive space between the boat storage and the river

edge not only provides enough space for the handling and drying of the boats but also act as public space. It opens up the river edge to the people regardless of whether they are there to row or simply watch. Since Chicago river revitalization is an overarching goal in developing Fig. 53: Longitudinal Building Section

this building to pay tribute to that the boat house has a series of pervious paving surfaces coupled with rain gardens on site that allow runoff from the building to methodically filter down to an engineered

Fig. 54: Building elevation from the river

substrate that release the water back into the river after a careful filtration

Fig. 55: Building interior veiw

issues of flooding it serves a great reference point on how to similar

process. Even though this precedent case study does not address programs can be addressed in an environmentally responsible manner.



This chapter

highlights the

final design outcomes of the project. From the variety of strategies available three separate designs are selected and

implemented n the

site locations.


The limitations and

criticisms of the research is then presented





The Design

As mentioned before this study started off as testing out the

concept of deploying a network of non-hierarchical acupuncture interventions to instill flood resiliency in a select neighborhood. Due to the time constraints from the various pressure points identified in the neighborhood study, only three ere selected for further examination. Solutions were proposed for each site, from the research matrix. Then site 3 : boat house was taken a step further to include a built project that exhibits flood resiliency, community engagement and awareness.

The Woodland Township acknowledges the presence of water

in their built environment, in fact has even started to design the town in a way that capitalizes on water and its value on real estate. However the town fails to acknowledge that water is not a static element. This project tries to identify water as a dynamic datum element. Spatial qualities, materiality and other aspects of a space would depend on where it would fall on this datum. Using water as an organizing element in building design is a first step towards accepting flooding as an occurrence that we as humankind may have to adjust to in the future.

The following drawings, illustrations and rendering highlight how

flood resiliency can be incorporated successfully at the scale of a singular building. This building scheme along with the two solutions provided for the two other sites highlight that there is not one overarching solution for flooding. While the large scale engineering infrastructure provide a certain level of safety, the small scale localized interventions that are site-specific are vital to enhance flood resiliency within a community. Fig. 56: Chapter 07 cover image Fig. 57: Site 1: Residential waterfront flood preventive strategy

Limitations of this Research

One of the biggest limitations of this research is that there

is no way of testing out the effectiveness of the strategies when

Fig. 58: Site 2: Surface Parking Lot flood preventive strategy

implemented and when confronted with a flood event. As a result the

Fig. 59: Site 3: The Boat House flood preventive strategy

success or the effectiveness of the implemented strategies will have to be gauged using previous case studies and precedent projects. Another limitation was that due to time constraints only three

sites/ interventions were explored. It is evident that if a greater number

of interventions were explored in other areas then it would have presented a stronger argument in favor of the core argument of this thesis. A variety and a greater number of interventions spread out in the township would have also presented with the opportunity to explore whether connections between those interventions are a possibility.









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Glossary of Terms


Base Flood Elevation(BFE) - The mathematically computed elevation in feet to which floodwater is anticipated

to rise during a 100-year storm event. This becomes important in building insurance related aspects

for the insurance premium for a building is A determined by the relationship between the BFE and

the level of the lowest floor of a structure.

Bioswale/Swale- An element utilized in landscaping (often a planted strip along a street or parking lot) that

is used instead of the traditional curb and drain system for the purpose of capturing surface

water runoff. This method reduced run off, erosion, and filters out silt and pollution while also

contributing to groundwater recharge.

Brownfield- A former industrial site, particularly one compromised by hazardous contaminants. Some

examples are garbage dump sites, mining sites, etc.

Crisis -driven Urbanization- Unequal post disaster development and rapid urbanization that takes place due to

polarizations in economic, cultural, political, and spatial spheres.

Design Flood Elevation- The minimum elevation to which a building should be designed (elevated/ flood

proofed) when located in a designated flood plain. This elevation is the addition between the

base flood elevation and a specified amount of freeboard. The freeboard elevation depends on

the use of the structure.

Ecosystem- A system formed by the interaction of a community of organisms within the environment which

results in the creation of a micro environment.

Flooding- overflowing of water from a stream, channel or a similar source of water onto land that is normally dry. Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM)- A map compiled by the Federal Insurance Administration, which demarcates

the areas of flood hazard and the applicable insurance premiums depending of each of the zones.

Freeboard- An additional amount of height above the BFE to provide a factor of safety to address the

modeling and mapping uncertainties associated with FIRMs, as well as changes to storm intencitis and

frequencies due to degrading environmental factors. For example in NYC DFE = BFE + 2 feet for single

family houses while DFE for commercial buildings = BFE + 1 feet.

Hydrology- The branch of science concerned with the properties of the earth’s water, and especially its

movement in relation to land.

Limnology- The study of the biological, chemical, and physical features of lakes and other bodies of fresh water. Resiliency- The ability to recover to a stable state after illness, depression, adversity or any form of damage. Special Flood Hazard Areas- As designated by FEMA, these are the areas with at least 1% (located in 100-year

flood plain) chance of flooding in any given year. The SFHA has the following zones categorized

according to their level of risk

• •

V Zone- These are high risk areas, which are subjected to high velocity wave type inundations (usually

coastal cities) with flood levels that can exceed 3 feet in height.

A Zone- An area that is subject to moderate inundation between 1.5 and 3 feet in height. This zone is

generally known as the 100-year floodplain.


• •

B/X Zones- These zones demarcate areas with moderate flood hazard, usually the area between the

100‐ year and 500‐year flood plains. The flood depth varies between 1.5 -1 feet in these areas.

C/X Zones- These are areas that ususlly above the 500-year flood plain, hence often categorized as non

or minimum risk areas.

Urban Acupuncture- A series of independent strategies in the urban fabric that often tries to address an

existing issue that not only has a direct positive impact on its immediate surrounding but also

collectively has a larger impact on the overall built fabric.

Profile for Sachini Wickramanayaka

Collective Potential: A Network of Acupuncture Interventions for Flood Resilience  

MArch Thesis Booklet

Collective Potential: A Network of Acupuncture Interventions for Flood Resilience  

MArch Thesis Booklet


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