4.214J / 11.314J
Water, Landscape and Urban Design

Water affects the design of every building, site, and city in aesthetic, functional, and symbolic ways. This workshop links open space planning in East Cambridge with green infrastructure proposals from the Charles River Watershed Association.

Notwithstanding escalating land values and development in this neighborhood, the urban water system faces key challenges. It still has a combined sanitary and stormwater sewer system that discharges wastewater into the Charles River. It has a fascinating history originating in tidal flats filled to support small factories whose environmental legacy is not well-known. Unlike suburban infiltration-based approaches, this area has shallow contaminated soils and groundwater, rodents, and impervious land cover that require the design of innovative urban BMPs (best-management practices).

The historical geography of Boston water systems encourages a cross-cultural approach to design, which will include engagement with Thoreau at Walden, Coomaraswamy on the Fenway, and the Aga Khan Award for Architecture.

In addition to lectures and discussion, workshop participants will develop water-conserving design proposals at the site and neighborhood scales informed by international precedents and practice.