Coastal Caretaker

Grand Prize, 2013 d3 Unbuilt Visions Competition

emerymcclure architecture with Kristi Cheramie and Sarah Young

In Louisiana, the shoreline is not a line but a plain, composed of low marshes, scraggly cheniers, and fertile estuaries. In its present fragile state, it serves as the natural storm-surge barrier for five urban environments: New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Lake Charles, and Houston, TX. Basically flat in elevation, increased storm-action and a 1-meter sea level rise will inundate this barrier plain and place these five urban environments directly on the Gulf of Mexico. The COASTAL CARETAKERS work to reconstruct the inundated coastal plain repurposing the elevated infrastructure that remains after future sea level rise and storm system actions.  The caretakers clamp to the vertical structure of the abandoned and flooded elevated highways, bridges, train trestles, etc. and cast their nets to capture the sediment deposits of the Mississippi. Over time, these deposits are layered, treated, planted, and then re-deposited to actuate the formation of barrier islands. This environmental adaptation initiates regrowth of the coastal plain, the storm-proofer for these communities. To care for this plain is the responsibility of the COASTAL CARETAKER infrastructure.