Site Selection & Documentation

In the selection of the site of my investigation there are a series of criteria for which the decision will be made. Since the thesis is working with two major concepts, the influence fear, paranoia, and hysteria on architecture, and sea level rise, climate change, extreme weather as a cause of societal and infrastructural collapse.

Looking first at fear, paranoia, and hysteria, I have found in my research that hysteria and paranoia are compounded by a greater population density, so this necessitates an urban area as a site. Second, there is a need to examine an area that is most dependent on infrastructure and municipal services, which also necessitates a city. Most urban inhabitants are completely reliant on municipal services and very rarely produce their own food or harvest their own water. It is starting to occur more, but still not to the extent even of suburban inhabitants, while rural inhabitants are most self-sufficient. All of this points to an urban area as the site of investigation, but the next question is what urban area?

After doing research on the extent of sea-level rise and some of the areas most affected, I found that the Atlantic Northeast (Canadian/American Northeast) is to be affected the most because of the effect on sea level rise on currents in the Atlantic Ocean. These currents currently influence the pulling of water away from the coastline of the Northeast. The sea levels around the northeast coast of the U.S should actually be higher than it is, but because of those currents, it is lower than typical. Scientists predict that these currents will be disrupted and actually cause this pull to stop, allowing even more water to consume the coastlines. In addition to the estimated 3′ rise in the next 100 years, cities like Boston may be subject to an increase of 1′. As a result of these changes, Boston will be more susceptible to extreme weather such as Nor’easters, Hurricanes, and Floods. The 100 year flood line, which is currently barely encroaching the cities waterfront, will be pushed much farther, even past the major metropolitan area.

All of these signs point to the macro selection of the city of Boston as the site of investigation, both because of the region’s susceptibility to climate change, and also the exponential rise of hysteria in urban areas.

impact of sea rise on major residential districts

On the micro scale, the decision is still forthcoming as to the specific site. Because the program is examining the survival tactics of different families and factions, I am leaning towards the selection of a greater district as the site, because there are a variety of conditions I wish to examine. These conditions are the adaptation tactics of families and factions in typical Brownstone apartments, multifamily wooden homes, the re-use of abandoned institutional and office buildings by communal organizations or family factions, as well as the questions surrounding ” commercial resource buildings” such as clothing and grocery stores. In this way I would have the ability to examine not only how a family of three might adapt their brownstone apartment to changing needs, but also how the people of the district circulate to and from resource stockpiles, as well as maybe how a resource stockpile become the protected possession of one faction versus a stockpile becoming a communal distribution center.

As a result of these criteria there are two major zones that I am examining. The first is the Back Bay//Huntington Area of Boston. This is one of the lowest lying zones in the city, and as a result will be completely vulnerable to the sea level rise. This zone also relies on only two or three major roadways for access in and out of the city. There are pieces of infrastructure such as the MBTA rails, as well as tunnels that can be investigated, as well as the juxtaposition of multifamily dwellings, large apartment buildings, as well as a myriad of institutional, commercial, and resource buildings.

The other area is the coast of Cambridge on the Charles river. This area is another that is incredibly vulnerable to the sea level rise, but the most interesting aspect is that some of the major commerical//institutional zones are along the water, so when the water begins rising there will be a struggle for inhabitants to reach these areas in the face of flooding. It also contains some of the same elements as the Back bay area in a diversity of building typology and zoning.

Ultimately I am weighing heavily on the Back Bay//Huntington area as the area of investigation because of the diversity of building types, existing infrastructures, and increased vulnerability.


About Bryan Premont

I am currently pursuing a Masters of Architecture at Wentworth Institute of Technology.
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