Influx_Studio designed the HYDRO-RHIZOME: A lakeside estate at Neuilly-sur-Marne in USA.
Description from the architects:
This proposal intends to introduce a new way of conceiving the city in terms of operational strategies, aiming at systematising and optimising on –site relations between resources – natural, urban and human, in order to create the conditions for a new and authentically durable lifestyle.
Biomimicry and the infrastructural ecology
The project explores in a comprehensive way the concept of urban system: each component would find its place in an overview that is founded on mastering exchanges of the urban ecosystem, which would also impose the elaboration and creation of resources, by the landscaping of new lifestyles. This, thanks to the notion of «infrastructural ecology», wider than that of «ecological infrastructure», would not only include construction works, but also the final goal of the layout of a durable life system, which can be accomplished thanks to the support of the infrastructure set up by the project. This infrastructure provides synergies between usual exchanges between Man and material elements (works, mechanisms, networks) and those of urban lifestyles and local resources (natural water, wastewater, renewable energy, waste).The urbanism we propose imitates nature in its shapes and its optimised organisational principles, especially hexagonal-based shapes, designed in order not to exceed in resources consumption, and rhizome structures to optimise distribution of fluids in the networks, as part of a cellular urbanism matrix whose units fit into each other to give a complex and live tissue.
Urban water as a main actor
Water is probably the most strategically of urban resources for the development of cities in a Zero Carbon Economy. In its present configuration, the site has a binary relation to water: either the site is dry; either it is soaked in an uncontrolled way. The role that water will have in the overall structure of the system and the various relations to water that will be woven day by day will define to a great extent the quality of the living environment. In order to make the water inflow permanently, defining and mastering these new relations to water prove to be fundamental.
Topography and lifestyles: Defining a flood resilient city
The commitment is that to create a permanent water reservoir in the southern part of the site having a water level equal to that of the River Marne under a regular regimen, while keeping a balance between cut and fill, and maintaining the expansion volume of the swelling of the Marne. The different lifestyles are defined according to their relation to water and to risks, and are arbitrated by topography. The purpose is to obtain a high topography towards the RN34 route providing a dense habitat which participates to the new lakeside landscape from a riskless position. The altimetry of the land will gradually decrease in a southern direction. There, an intermediate area will be found, less dense, that lives « by the rhythm of the water », organised around pools which will show fluctuating water levels due to the rain. The altimetry will reach its minimum on the edge of the big pool. Along its entire border, the last inhabited area will be found, « feet in the water », completely in contrast with the more traditionally arranged city beside the RN34 route. Finally, the pool itself gives rise to a last type of habitat, floating on boats and barges. This urban structure ensures to reaching the demanded density of 100 dwellings/ha.
The party planning proposed is a rhizome-shaped urban structure interlocking built environment, water and natural environment. On one hand, there is the urban structure, resulting of the new topography, which stretches its branches from RN34 towards the water of the reservoir. On the other hand, there is the water network extending from the reservoir towards the core of the site depending on the swellings, and in the opposite direction when it comes to gravity flow of water. It is a live tissue that creates a gravity-flow hydrographical system. A network of damp areas and pools located at different levels will be the purification path towards the great reservoir, thus structuring the site in a dry area, an occasionally damp area, a swampy area, and a pool.
“Pointe de Gournay” represents an intensification point of urban life exchanges, programmatic blending and metropolitan mobility. It is the place of the main convergence, where the “Chelles Channel” opens to fill the reservoir of the site: The WaterForum. Owing to its extreme porosity, this new urban space opens the site towards the urban fabric surrounding it, thus connecting it to the city, to the channel and to the Marne. This vertically-mixed urban centre with its rhizome-shaped architectures will shelter the highest density of the site, which in addition to the mixed habitat pole makes room to eco-activities such as from tertiary or restoration trades based on local produces, as well as local shops, retail an concept stores about water, etc. The WaterForum will become a real landmark, a life-size showroom of green tech products and building technologies for the sustainable city. Integrated in this same complex, the various mobility solutions are organised, namely that of the tramway that reaches straight the most dense commercial level. Two others main facilities complete the attractiveness offer of the project:
The Waste Processing & Composting Centre (WPCC) will be structured in order to allow the public to see the processes that take place in it, with a pedagogical purpose about waste and energy. It will be equipped to attract visitors and professionals involved in eco-activities, urbanists, politicians and local authorities, for information and formation courses aimed at disseminating this model of an ecological neighbourhood.
The Great Fluvial Aquarium is aimed at crowning the water theme that is omnipresent overall the project, which stands both in the continuity of the Île-de-France tourist policy (along with the Trocadéro aquarium and Sea-Life in Marne-la-Vallée) and in an innovating perspective, since it introduces the first public fresh water aquarium in France.
The cycle of water: water phyto-purification in three steps.
The proposal affirms its sustainable vocation defining its backbone on the cycle of water. The goal of the urban hydro-rhizome is to locally take care of wastewater purification in a completely natural and ecological way. There are numerous advantages of this ecological improvement system: heavy costs for the community are avoided since no sewers neither purification plants are needed, and energy consumption is zero since water flows along its path by simple gravity.
The first process will be phyto-purification: by the joint use of plants and microorganisms, a water of a swimming quality will be obtained. A first anoxic cycle in « septic tanks » allows eliminating 30% of pollutants from wastewater and thus avoiding solid devices in the phyto-purfication network. First planted filters will be placed at buildings firs level, conferring them a landscaped and useful facade: 50 to 60% of the water can be considered as already purified of noxious substances even before it reaches the ground. The new site topography allows lagooning. Semi-treated water flows by gravity from one lagoon to the other, which are characterised by different biotopes in order to treat different types of water pollution and to obtain an excellent final quality. As a last step in this purification track, when water already has a quality such as to allow fish life, fresh water mussels are introduced. These are true filtering plants, since each one of them is able to filter up to 40 litres of water a day.
The project includes infrastructural support for a better resource management, consumption reduction, smaller waste production and upcoming of unexpected profit opportunities: the production of bamboo wood, iris floriculture, compost and biogas production, fish culture, etc. A true viability of this project will be achieved by implementing these economical equilibrium logics. The biodiversity already provided by the adjoining Haute-Île Park will be strengthened by biotopes in the park and especially hosted by its lagoons. Reinforcing tourist attractiveness, boat and barge harbouring economical potential in the Parisian region will be used. Processing and storing waste on site (waste is sorted by the citizens and dropped in pumping mouths which convey it to the processing station where the organic part is transformed for compost production) will allow energetic self-sufficiency, producing biogas and heat up to 70°C. Energy-saving technologies will be privileged in every step of construction and sources of solar and wind energy will also be favoured, respectively in households and in the urban space.