Dencity 2016: Special Mention

Aqua Infrastructure

Entry by: Shuyi Gao, Yuan Fang

Project Context

With its rich biodiversity, unique systems, and crucial role in regulating the Earth’s climate, the Amazon Rainforest is one of the most important resources in the world. Despite this, few people are aware of the Amazon’s increasing urban development. While there are currently 34 million people living in cities, this number has a high potential for growth in the future.

Located in the largest metropolis in the Peruvian Amazon Iquitos, the community of Claverito is the fifth most populous city of Peru with over 0.5 million inhabitants. The city stands at the entrance to the Amazon river, connecting the Amazonian wilderness and human civilization. The junglelooked city bears a heavy population with 53% living in poverty. Settled on the waterfront of Iquitos, the indigenous community of Claverito has lasted for over 35 years.

Until very recently, Claverito was not accredited by the government, which meant limited access to city support and utilities. Additionally, with more than 26 feet of water level change between flood and dry season, this floating community is at risk for severe issues in building stable pathways and homes. Individuals living in the community are exposed to many different human, environmental, and ecological health issues, including disease and a lack of portable water and safe power resources.

Design Strategy

By proposing more efficient and effective types of infrastructure, this project aims to improve the community’s living environment. The community itself will also have the opportunity to learn about more sustainable settlement designs and to implement programs aimed at producing products, such as the fishing farm and floating farm. The infrastructures will not only serve as utilities, but also as social, economic, and ecological facilitators to assist in widening the communication pathway between surrounding communities. The green belt created between the main pathway will serve as a water purification region for the community by using the local plant, “Putu Putu.”

Design Development

The existing condition of the community is the foundation of our design. Our goal is to revise their essential infrastructures utilizing simple, but logical steps.  The infrastructures include the multifunctional holder, modular pathway (1.25m×1.25m), modular fishing farm (2.5m×2.5m) and modular floating farm(0.8m×1.25m).

The first step of development requires the con structure of the holder and the pathway, which serve as the essential elements of the completed design. The fishing farm and floating farm can be attached on an individual basis; allowing for community members themselves to decide whether or not to include this element in the design. Throughout the development process, individuals will learn skills and exchange skills, both adding to the sense of belonging and community culture.

Multifunctional Holder

Throughout our research design, we have noticed that many vertical wooden pieces serve multiple purposes for the community. (1) They serve as anchors to keep the community from floating away, and (2) people of the community use these wooden holders to connect electricity wires and to “steal” electricity from the up-level city. As we considered the potential risks, dangers and weaknesses of these holders, we propose to revise them as a vertical urban agricultural and power generating element.

Modular Pathway

The existing pathway of the community is consisted of holders and several wooden platforms on top. The width of the pathway is limited by its wooden material, which safely and feasibly only allows one person to pass by at a time. Many individuals have actually fallen over into the river, further emphasizing the need to revise the pathway system. This revision calls for the use of modular units. Instead of using long wooden pieces, people can cut them into short pieces and assemble them into stable platforms. The flotation devices that support these platforms are constructed from recycled bottles or from attaching bamboo pieces together. Once assembled, the modular units can be attached to one another easily by rope. The direction and length of the platform is also flexible in design.

Fish Farm

Fishing is extremely prevalent in Claverito, serving as both an employment option and means of obtaining food. Due to overfishing, the people of Claverito are forced to boat long distances just to catch fish. Our design proposal will directly address this issue by developing a fishing pond that can be easily attached to the modular pathway’s structure. This will allow community members to raise fish on their own and in close proximity to their own settlement.

Floating Farm

Taking Bairas in Bangladesh as precedent, we propose a feasible way for people to grow food in their community. At least 900 families in Baikantapur grow bairas, or floating crops, in order to have stable food resources even during the flood season. Bairas are constructed in layers: aquatic plants, mainly water hyacinths, are laid down between bamboo poles. Paddy stubs, straw and coconut husks are then added along with composited remnants of the previous year’s bairas. After 710 days, a second layer of water hyacinths is added. After 1520 days when decomposition occurs, seeds can then be planted.

Green Belt and Green Bathrooms

Referring to floating bathrooms in Prek Toal, Cambodia as precedent, we propose a sustainable way to treat gray water in effective attempt to reduce the rate of disease. The local plant, Putu Putu, had been used to purify the Amazon river before by the government of Iquitos, proving its efficiency in water treatment. However, community members are unaware of its use to maintain their environment.

Thus, we propose a series of green floating bathrooms. A layer of Putu Putu will surround each bathroom and will be planted between the main pathway of the community. Its primary purpose is to purify the gray water for the community’s use.

About the entrant

Shuyi Gao is a graduate student in the Department of Landscape Architecture at the University of Washington.

Yuan Fang is a graduate student in the Department of Landscape Architecture at the University of Washington.