Containing a Monoculture

G2 Landscape Architecture Studio / Autumn 2014 / Karen Lutsky

Containing a Monoculture looks at the changing coastline of the Saginaw Bay as phragmites (Phragmites australis) continues to spread its roots. In a fifteen year period phragmites has taken hold of the bay’s shallow waters and formed a 15’ high and 3,000’ deep wall between land and water. Thus, overtime phragmites has become a physical barrier for locals to access the water. This project aims to help them appreciate the wilderness in their backyards while simultaneously providing a space for scientists to research this aggressive reed.

We set up a flexible framework that can adapt to the changing shoreline and give the vast space a readable scale. The framework addresses large-scale, long-term coastal edge plans through a connection of research centers that test materials and methods of containing phragmites. On the ground a mown path allows researchers to travel between test plots, and above ground a pedestrian bridgeway provides visitors with a range of experiences within and above the phragmites. The upper and lower paths intersect at the nodal structures. The structures are a means of vertical access as well as storage, classrooms, offices, meeting spaces, and research facilities. This system of paths provides views, access, observation, and a new place for recreation as two seemingly separate worlds collide.