Christina hansen – AQUATECTURE


Is an investigation of innovative and widely applicable urban and architectural design propositions in response to environmental challenges in coastal cities.

The studio is a response to the global quest for adequate urban living solutions under current threats and challenges through flooding caused by climate change. Rising seawater levels and severe storm water occurrences cause infrastructure failures, social and economic disruptions, environmental disturbances and create safety and health risks. Entire coastal regions are endangered, and potable water for their inhabitants are at risk.

AQUATECTURE is a studio to investigate of how societies deal with this current threat and how planners and architects, together with engineers, scientists and politicians develop different measures of mitigating this situation.

As one of the most involved societies in dealing with hydrological challenges since several hundred years, the Dutch became adapt to dealing with water in all its forms and found solutions to turn threats into assets. Architects in The Netherlands developed new ways of construction, planners developed innovative solutions and landscape architects react with inspiring environments.

The studio had the opportunity to travel to The Netherlands to learn about challenges, innovations, and technologies in storm water management, their environmental impact, and its relation to architecture and urbanism. We had the chance to meet local professionals and to participate in the ongoing discourse about the necessity of water management worldwide.

The Great Lakes Region faces similar conditions and especially Detroit is in need of adequate storm water and planning solutions. Through learning form the Dutch, students proposed a thesis utilizing water management as a key tool for the creation of innovative strategies and new exploratory urbanism for Detroit.

The studio is promoting innovation in strategic planning, urban design, architecture and landscape architecture. Students had the opportunity to meet with local and regional entities as world known landscape architects.

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Student Work

Mukshatu Khanam

Detroit River is a small yet significant junction of the greater Great Lakes system and that helped Detroit to flourish as a heavy industrial city. Since the last decade, Detroit is losing population and facing issues of urban blight. The Detroit River is having more combined sewer (CSO) pollution than before because of more frequent heavy rainfall during summer which is causing serious health hazards for all Great Lakes residents. Stormwater management has become one of the most critical issues specially for Detroit as it has vast impervious industrial areas along with huge parking lots. The Great Lakes water level also indicates the trend of changing flood level projection in the upcoming years.

This proposition investigates the opportunity of daylighting the original network of creeks that ran through Detroit, to draw a new layout of resilient green-blue infrastructure. The project vision is to integrate the ecological system of runoff water filtration before it goes back to the river and at the same time a new urban space for the residents of the neighborhood. For the new greenways integration, five creeks are identified: Conner creek, May’s creek, Baby creek, Bloody Run and Rouge river. The objective is to collect stormwater from the adjacent impervious areas, at the same time to create a buffer with the residential neighborhoods. The conner creek is chosen for the detailed further study. The development strategy is investigated here along with the investment resources, filtration method and implementation schemes. The integration of greenways with daylit creeks proposes repurposing the stormwater management system and provides an urban destination for neighborhood revitalization.



Decline as an Opportunity

Detroit contested in its postindustrial status is in a constant state of flux. Its industrial beltline defines its urban fabric. The vacancy outlines city blight and simultaneous potential. It sets up a juxtaposition with the industrial expanse. The vacancy pattern follows the Linear Belt of industry. The vacancy density is maximum around the beltlines, which can be targeted as potential infrastructure to connect the adjoining districts and act as linear anchors for increasing surrounding density.

The chosen site encompasses the targeted three districts of Poletown East, Forest Park and Eastern Market. Surrounding districts include Lafayette Park, Elmwood Park, Midtown, Downtown and Riverfront Warehouse.

‘Urban Connectors’ investigates development opportunities in and around industrial bands by

revising their character from dividing neighborhoods to a catalytic one connecting them. Can beltlines be targeted as potential infrastructure to connect the neighborhoods? Use decline as an opportunity?


Integrating and densifying the neighborhoods in an industrial expanse Through the agency of Green Stormwater Infrastructure to initiate the anchors for pedestrian vibrancy, accessibility and new mixed-use development.

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