Being in design school in southern Louisiana means that we’re almost constantly focused southward of Baton Rouge or New Orleans, on issues of coastal preservation, sustainability, and wetland protection. One of the most fascinating things about the coastal wetland is that it’s a disturbed place. Due to heavy industrial use for oil exploration, commercial use in fishing and trapping, and recreational use in boating and fishing, the wetlands have become a large disappearing network of dredged canals, sliced shortcuts between lakes, and pipeline scars that look like a patchwork suburban street system from above.
Canoeing through the marsh, it seems that this is a pristine, wild place that could very well be untouched by humans. It’s only when you see the miles of bullet-straight canals and learn about the dredging and marsh destruction that happens under the surface that the true picture begins to reveal itself. Is the right approach, then, to try and preserve as much of it as we can? Try to rebuild, or let the natural process take over?
One of the ways that marsh rebuilding happens is through marsh terracing, and it’s where my inspiration comes from for my design of the berm ecological park (cool name yet to be found). How can marsh terrace building be done in a more purposeful way, and in a way that allows the people visiting to connect to the site?
[The berm ecological park accepts all visitors. A winding, curving, looping concrete structure winds like a tendril through the marsh grass, the connection between sculpture and dynamic environment belies the concrete berms’ enormous scale.]