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As part of an ongoing effort to make content more accessible, LAM will be making select stories available to readers in Spanish. For a full list of translated articles, please click here.

BY LISA OWENS VIANI

FROM THE NOVEMBER 2019 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

Named for the walnut trees that used to line its banks, the Arroyo de los Nogales, a tributary of the Santa Cruz River, flows from south to north, descending from the high Sonoran desert in Mexico into Arizona. The main arroyo and its many smaller tributaries form a watershed, shaped roughly like a human heart, that is broken in two by the U.S.–Mexico border wall. Facing each other across the wall, in the river’s floodplain, are two cities, each named Nogales, that share social and environmental problems—including repeated flooding caused by rapid urbanization, ineffective flood control efforts, and the border wall itself.

Gabriel Díaz Montemayor, ASLA, an assistant professor of landscape architecture at the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design at the University of Arkansas, and Francisco Lara-Valencia, an associate professor at the School of Transborder Studies at Arizona State University, have a greener vision for these border cities (together called Ambos Nogales), whose streets and arroyos often run brown with sediment and sewage in heavy storms. Díaz Montemayor and Lara-Valencia want to increase permeability throughout the watershed, slow peak flows in heavy storms, and develop more ecological connectivity between the two cities, despite the dividing presence of the wall.

They hope their ideas for an extensive network of green infrastructure can transform the way the cities develop, not only to improve water quality and flood management but also to provide more green space for residents. As the cities have grown, impervious surfaces have too, destroying natural areas. Both cities lack green space: There is just 1.1 square meter per person in Nogales, Mexico, and only 2.2 square meters per person on the U.S. side, Lara-Valencia says.

“We are not saying development shouldn’t happen,” Díaz Montemayor says. “We’re saying, ‘Let’s provide a structure for that development to happen [that] is based on natural systems.’” (more…)

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BY HANIYA RAE

Technology helps shape what hardscapes can be.

FROM THE DECEMBER 2018 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

Courtney Goode was working on a project in Houston when Hurricane Harvey hit. Buffalo Bayou, one of the slow-moving rivers that Houston relies upon to hold stormwater, flooded, and the waters would end up spilling out over the city’s aging infrastructure and impermeable surfaces, exacerbating the problem.

“My heart was in my throat,” Goode says. “We had been working on these super-detailed axonometric drawings of all angles of the city—we knew the city like the back of our eyelids. It was a total shock to see the bayous obliterated and murky, debris-filled water covering the walkways, roads, and even ground floors of the buildings near the bayou. The flood just engulfed everything we had been designing.”

For Goode, a landscape designer in Sasaki’s Urban Studio and a Fabrication Studio coordinator, the disaster afforded her a very real account of how the city managed stormwater and led her to think more about how low-impact development can divert stormwater from streets during flooding. She describes a scenario in which a city like Houston could divert some of the excess water by excavating 40-foot-deep gravel dry wells (the size of a typical four-story parking garage) topped off with permeable pavers that could hold excess rainwater until it’s able to seep back into the ground. (more…)

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