UIUC students try to create a better coastal city

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Manufacturing Landscapes
  • Manufacturing Landscapes
This past winter Julie Larsen, professor of architecture at the University of Illinois-Chicago at Urbana-Champaign, received the $20,000 Michael Roche travel grant to take ten students to Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo. Most tourists visit the site for the spectacle of its famous fish auctions—one fish sold for $736,700 in January 2011—but Larsen's class was focused on imagining urban interventions. The students were tasked with thinking about durable waterfront and coastal designs. In the wake of events like Hurricane Katrina and the 2011 tsunami in Japan, they confronted the need to rethink how coastal cities are designed—and whether those cities have the infrastructure to withstand the effects of global warming and natural disasters.

This Friday Larsen shows her students’ studio work in the exhibition “Manufacturing Landscapes.” Five projects are represented in the show, each one a different approach to coastal planning through an architectural framework. One project, “Unzipping the Coast,” proposes creating mini weirs—basically mini dams—that capture water in the event of coastal flooding. Another project, “Siphon Sponge,” suggests an underground drainage system that filters excess water into buildings with malleable storage systems that release the water over time. Sounds like “Siphon Sponge” took some cues from the human bladder.

Perhaps the Chicago water management department should pay a visit to “Manufacturing Landscapes.” Anything is better than the current system where excess rain causes the sewage lines to spill into Lake Michigan.

In addition to "Manufacturing Landscapes," Larsen will hold a symposium on May 19 as a way to contextualize the students' work within the broader architectural discipline and more formally investigate the effects of natural disasters in the urban realm.

Fri 5/11, 7-10 PM, 1414 N. Kingsbury.

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