New Orleans studio excursion Sept. ’10

ParadoxCity New Orleans studio 2010 visits the Crescent City for a week of action research.

Flood-wall along London Ave Outfall canal
driving up I-10 North towards Norca

The studio explores the relationship between a fluctuating geology of a continuously shifting delta fan, the productive and protective capacities of a bald cypress forests, the urban infrastructure and a city struggling to maintain a state of stability in this dynamic environment.

That’s one difference between stability and stagnation. A stable society has the ability to reject or adapt to change. A stagnant one has change imposed on it, unpleasantly. The only question is from what direction it will come.

Wading Toward Home, MICHAEL LEWIS, 2005

Canoe trip in the salt marshes at LUMCON research facilities

The focus of the ongoing research is on the outfall canals, this type of flood walls breached during Katrina and flooded up to 80% of the city.

The flood protection system today is renamed to risk reduction system and will be either reinforced. (option 1).  more substantial redesign would allow to convey the water at grade and abandon the flood walls while the water would be pumped up out of the drainage basin at the mouth of the canal to Lake Pontchartrain.

Flood walls at Dillard Campus

The City limits of New Orleans Parish are essentially a Polder, a large Bowl with a slightly uneven bottom. This bowl needs to be continuously de-watered from groundwater and storm water by a costly technical drainage system.

The outfall canals are to be re-designed, this is a multibillion dollar investment. The studio investigates potential to make this investment multipurpose and add value by adding program and engaging adjacent uses. The goal is to have the water table be at grade and be able to convey it along gravity within the drainage basin- it will only be pumped at its northern end by a new permanent station. Additional horizontal surface for re/detention allows to keep the water column in the canals lower and therefore allows to largely abandon levees and flood-walls in the city.




Students investigates the London Avenue Canal condition as a boundary to the adjacent neighborhoods and University Campi of Dillard and University of New Orleans.

The inner condition of the canal can only be observed from climbing up the concrete flood wall. The water elevation within the canal varies between sea-level and 5 feet above, depending on the pumping activity of the Sewer and Water board Pumping Stations at their head. Additional water detention areas layered with existing uses introduce an urban culture that might embrace the fact to live in a wet place. How can the mono-functional engineered infrastructure project become a smarter system that draws from mixed uses/functions, public access and ecosystems service?

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