Detoxi-City

The question no longer resides in the idealism of should we build on and around such sites as estuaries, river deltas, wetlands, tidal marshes, et cetera; rather, the question is how can we urbanize such ecologically critical territories utilizing scalar processes and strategies which opportunistically manage risks through a hybridization of industrial and ecological processes. “Detoxi-city” proposes a co-opting and coupling of hydrological flow to oil refinement and processing in order to both contain, cleanse, and reintroduce waters that have been used and affected by the industrial processes proposed for the site.

Infrastructures of contamination management that initially serve the oil industry will eventually serve the hydrological flow from tidal flux, seasonal flooding, surrounding estuaries and tributaries acts. The hydrological “input” will eventually be the basis of an emergent aqua-culture industry. Hydraulic detoxification constitutes this proposal, creating housing islands, wetland and aquacultural ‘bars’, and the infrastructural conduits. These systems mutually reinforce the overall strategies of detoxification, containment, coexistence and conversion.

The surrounding boundary interiorizes of the city (housing, industry, infrastructure, production, et cetera), but becomes increasingly ambiguous over time because of the hydrological processes, which shape the site. Program is organized in to bars, creating corridors perform urbanistically as connectors, where circulation cross cuts the bar’s logic and people can gather as they move through the city, differentiating “Detoxi-city” from usual company-towns by treating industrial space as public space.

These flexible, programmed corridors provide the foundation for a new public space and more sustainable industry once the oil production is phased out. The wetlands serve to cleanse both toxins and biological waste for the city. The aquaculture bars—for both fish farming and paddy farming—lay the foundation for a new more sustainable industry while also cleaning and preparing water for reuse. The programs and their adjacencies in plan were chosen in order to maximize the cleansing of water at this ecologically critical juncture. Beyond these more pragmatic concerns, however, these programs provide the foundation for a new public space and more sustainable industry once the oil production is phased out. The wetlands serve to cleanse both toxins and biological waste for the city. The aquaculture bars—for both fish farming and paddy farming—lay the foundation for a new more sustainable industry while also cleaning and preparing water for reuse.

Along with the contaminants produced industry and the biological waste produced by industry, there exists a constant need for dredging at the port to maintain water depths in the canal and port and to replenish the breakwater which will be inevitably eroded by ocean currents. Thus, the wetland bar adjacent to the interior port on the site is dedicated to the cleansing of dredge material such that it may be redeployed throughout the site for various uses.

Detoxi-city proposes more productive modes of urbanization that deal with the material realities of contemporary urbanism. However, as these realities are a starting point, Detoxi-city projects the possibility for a new public, emerging productively from such private developments as oil refinery towns and fully engaging with the infrastructure which constitutes the urban realm. Far from the first generation of hard infrastructure constructed during the New Deal era, these infrastructures are responsive to ecological, environmental, economic and social variation over time. Moreover, beyond merely being sublime impositions on the landscape—the taming of nature—these new infrastructures provide a space of cultural production—a space for citizen engagement and interaction on productive terms.

Project Designers: Rodney Bell, Julia Gamolina, Zuhal Kol
Project Advisor: Neeraj Bhatia
Cornell University, Department of Architecture
2012