This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

The Dance: a fluid model of street design




Szakel, Bonnie

Type of Degree



Landscape Architecture


During the early twentieth century, the American city experienced changes to its infrastructure that are still visible today. These changes were a result of the city beautiful movement. Some of the changes to the city structure provided long term environmental benefits, for example linked park systems. While the result of other changes provided long term negative effects, for example combined sewers. Within the United States, there are currently seven hundred seventy two cities with combined sewers (NPDES 2014). Columbus, Georgia is one of those cities. Within historic mid-town Columbus, Georgia the combination of urban runoff and combined sewer overflow discharging untreated human waste into Weracoba Creek has resulted in the creek being listed as a 303(d) stream for not maintaining water quality standards and not fulfill its designated use of fishing (TMDL 2004). With climate change predicted to potentially cause a third of the counties in the United States to experience water shortage by 2050, can the American city afford to continue polluting its national waterways (Roy et al 2010)? The aim of this thesis was to develop a fluid model of street design that enables the coexistence of pedestrians, vehicles, and water within the intimate intersection of the public right-of-way and the home. The concepts of adapt to change, self-organization, and create opportunities which are used by both Emergence theory and Resilience theory as a way to understand, describe, and design socioecological system were used as the theoretical framework. The situation as presented within the text, Emergence in Landscape Architecture, was used as the research by design method with situational mapping, photography, and imaginative drawing serving as the primary design tools. The research by design investigation resulted in a fluid model of street design that choreographed the movement of pedestrians, vehicles, and water within the intimate intersection of public and private space. The local residential street is the place where public and private space establish their most intimate connection. By redesigning the local residential street as an adaptive, self-organizing system with the potential to adapt to a changing environment, self-organize as a result of these unknown changes, and create opportunities for local residents to realize the benefits of these changes in their own front yard, a “new city beautiful” topology emerged. A topology where infrastructure particularly stormwater infrastructure was not a physical thing, but a complex interconnected system, a saturated meshwork that infiltrates and flows continuously through the dynamic field. A form of infrastructure that does not exist alone in isolation, but is thoroughly entangled and inseparable from the life that emerges from it.