Authors : Carla Lores and Michael Yarinsky

University : Pratt Institute

Status : BArch, 2012

Advisors : Michael Chen, Jason Lee

Title : Subnature

New York City’s Watershed is a site in crisis. Not only is there a larger demand for water due to the growth of the population, but due to further suburban development in upland areas, water catchment sites are not as hygienic as once thought. Within the Croton Watershed lies Carmel. This suburban town in Putnam County has large basins for water catchment integrated into a developed suburban community. The distributed system currently in place for the dispersal of sewage, though, has a very high risk of contaminating the watershed.

Based on a topological study using sand and cavities to represent the density and area of groundwater contamination risk, a landscape was generated. The areas that are highest upland have the highest ground water capacity and lowest contamination risk, and the areas downland have the lowest capacity and highest risk. This relationship is key to the remediation strategy, by creating a topography that channels effluent water to these specific sites. The exo-landscape is then populated with components that not only allow the material flow relationship but can also be modulated to allow for varying lighting conditions and the ability to contain soil and plants. This passive system is then activated by integrated pumps that draw sewage to biogas processing sites.

Using pastoral ideas native to the development of suburban landscaping, such as the sweeping vista, winding pathway, scenic overlook and grotto, we develop the landscape to be a desirable recreation site. Overlaid, layers of sewage, air, and water flow create a new material ecology within Carmel. Since the sites of highest contamination risk are protected, New York City’s Watershed is more protected than previously. Because the system is automated to deposit and process waste into the sites of highest capacity, the system as a whole has a larger capacity for sewage.
This project hopes to blur the boundary between what is considered clean and contaminated, synthetic and natural, and in doing so foster a modified suburban desire. This, through the intensification of existing conditions of a synthetic pastoral and the gizmo begins to challenge the boundaries that enabled the development of suburbia in the first place.