Raising New Orleans: The Marais Design Strategy
New Orleans, Louisiana, is an iconic American city that is located in one of the most dynamic deltaic environments in the world. Called “The Accidental City” by author Lawrence Powell, New Orleans provides a case study for all of south Louisiana, as well as cities around the world that are increasingly threatened by sea level rise as to how settlement can continue in such a precarious location. In this chapter, we show a design proposal for elevating the city of New Orleans as an adaptive course of action. Our two-part strategy begins by reinforcing the lake front edge of New Orleans, along Lake Ponchartrain using infill to extend the higher, buildable ground. The higher ground would be fronted by a new cypress swamp and urban edge. The second part of the strategy aims to build a series of levee-like structures called polders by the Dutch, although we use the French term, “marais,” across the city by following existing infrastructure. The design proposal further develops edge and fill tactics to complete an elevation of the city, in whole or part.
KeywordsNew Orleans Land-building Urban design Architecture Urban infrastructure
- DeRussy LG (1859) 1796–1864: Special report relative to the cost of draining the swampy lands bordering on Lake Pontchartrain. J.M. Taylor, State Printer, 1859, Baton Rouge. Also by Louisiana. Board of Swamp Land Commissioners (page images at HathiTrust) https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/100410097
- Napier HE (1847) Florentine history, from the earliest authentic records to the accession of Ferdinand III. Grand Duc of Tuscany, vol 5. Moxon, 1847Google Scholar
- Publication of the World Health Organization (1991) Surface water drainage for low-income communities. Published online. https://www.ircwash.org/resources/surface-water-drainage-low-income-communities. Accessed March 2017