Urban Floodplain Design: Utilizing the Regenerative Disturbance of Flooding to Create Form and Habitat Within the Urban Landscape
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Village Creek watered the industrial machine that became Birmingham, AL. Once seen as the lifeblood of the city, attitudes towards Village Creek have deteriorated due to a century of poor development decisions. By creating an ecological corridor along Village Creek, its natural floodplain can be recovered. Through subtle design interventions the regenerative process of the annual flooding can be embraced to give form and create habitat within the landscape. The large scale goal of the research is to promote dispersal and connectivity of an assemblage of species along Village Creek while also providing social and cultural connections for Village Creek floodplain residents. The project focuses on the flood plain of Village Creek in Ensley where numerous homes have been removed due to annual flooding damage. The situation currently is a large tract of once residential land that now stands as ambiguous terrain between downtown Ensley and Village Creek. The research methodology is to establish conditions that enable the landscape to respond to the regenerative power of the flooding events of Village Creek. To do this, initial conditions will be set to engage the geomorphological processes of deposition and erosion allowing them to organize and give form to the landscape. These geomorphological processes will be engaged by creating deposition structures from asphalt on the site and placing fluvial rods on the stream bank. Setting up these conditions will engage the natural processes that already occur in the hydraulic landscape. This strategy of engaging disturbance-colonization-succession implemented over time along the entire length of Village Creek will lead to the reintroduction of a riparian corridor along the waterway. This will promote the development of wildlife habitat and improvement of water quality of the stream. It will also give the residents along Village Creek an open space for social interaction and recreation.