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Friday25 July 2014

Steven Byrne - University of Strathclyde

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The project is a response developed from investigations of how architecture might react to rising sea levels with particuIar focuson coastal Bangladesh where flooding is already a major concern.

Judges’ comments

The jury applauded the ambition and seriousness with which the project sought to operate within the economic and technical possibilities of the site. Brian Vermeulen said: “The scheme communicated a highly complex scenario through a series of legible diagrams and models and was ably supported by extensive research.”

Student Statement

The project developed from investigations of how architecture might respond to rising sea levels. After initial investigations into sites in northern Europe and the Gulf of Mexico, I focused my attention on coastal Bangladesh where flooding is already a major concern.

This is a consequence of the combination of two factors: the seasonal meltwater that flows from the Himalayas and the economic hardship that prevents adequate investment in appropriate defences. Following a visit where I met local NGO workers and students at BRAC University, I developed a strategy for mass production of indigenous resources, such as shrimp, seaweed and bamboo - which are currently farmed only on a small scale - in order generate income to allow investment in a flood defence infrastructure.

The final project presented models for large-scale shrimp, seaweed and bamboo farming and a restructured village where the historic centre is retained and a system of banks and floating houses introduced to allow homes to remain dry while water is captured for shrimp farming as the floods recede.

The jury applauded the project’s ambition and the seriousness with which it sought to operate within the economic and technical possibilities of the chosen site. Brian Vermeulen said, “the scheme communicated a highly complex scenario through a series of legible diagrams and models and was ably supported by the student’s extensive research.”

Tutor Statement

Steven’s thesis investigations began by exploring how architecture can respond to rising sea levels. After initially looking at low-lying areas within Northern Europe or the Gulf of Mexico, Steven realised that a more pertinent area for exploration was Bangladesh, where the problem of flooding is made extremely acute by a combination of factors: The majority of the country is prone to seasonal and long lasting flooding caused predominantly by the rivers that flow from the Himalayas and economic realities prevent adequate investment in flood defence and appropriate architectural solutions.

Having established the ’site’, Steven proceeded to explore Bangladesh in terms of the local, national and international context and to make contact with NGOs working in the region that are exploring similar issues. Steven fund raised to allow a 2 week visit where he met local NGO workers, students at BRAC university and explored urban and rural situations.

Steven’s major innovation was in developing a strategy for mass production of indigenous resources, such as shrimp, seaweed and bamboo (currently farmed on a small scale), in order to generate income to allow investment in restructuring the villages to brace against flooding.

Steven’s final propositions present models for large-scale shrimp, seaweed and bamboo farming and a restructured village where the historic centre is retained and a systems of banks and floating houses allow homes to remain dry while water is captured for shrimp farming as the floods recede.

Ewan Imrie & David Beat
5th year studio tutors

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