HOMES + is a project created for DESIGNING THE OPERATIONAL LANDSCAPE, a University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Fall 2016 design studio taught by Conor O'Shea. This was a group project with Mamata Guragain and Kristy Raasch.
In 2100, water will be the world’s most valuable resource. The United Nations reports that two out of every three people in the world will be facing water shortages as soon as 2025, a situation that could lead to global conflict if patterns of urbanization continue as they have for the last century. Additionally, at the other end of the spectrum, new research asserts that 13 million people along US coasts will be displaced by climate change induced sea level rise by the year 2100.
Watersheds of the region are a critical driving force behind the project's design decisions, with these watersheds defining the subcontinental divide as it stands today, delineating the areas of water flowing east to the Great Lakes versus water which flows west to the Mississippi River. In searching for a solution to re-reverse the flow of the Chicago River, allowing a larger area of the region to recharge Lake Michigan once again, inspiration came from imprints of glaciation in the Illinois landscape. By accentuating the existing topography and creating a berm at the intersection of the Valparaiso Moraine and Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, it is possible for us to re-reverse the flow of the Chicago River. This would move the subcontinental divide further west and enable a much larger area to recharge the Great Lakes.
In planning for migrating populations, future urban planning in the region will be based on watershed boundaries rather than arbitrary political jurisdictions. Areas where edges of watersheds meet become new town centers while boundaries of watersheds become radiating seams of prairie, weaving communities together. This project foresees our zone of intensity to accommodate three levels of density: The primary cities, of which there are 6, will house 1 million new residents by 2100; the secondary cities, of which there are 10, will become home to half a million residents in that same time; and, finally, HOMES + projects that the tertiary cities, of which there are nearly 30, will become home to half a million residents total as well.
To provide both flood management in a changing climate and filtration of greywater from new urban areas, key existing stream corridors selected for each watershed will be enhanced with wetland buffers by removing tile drains from the least productive agricultural areas. Finally, as the Moraine Berm and consequential wetland corridors will cut off water navigation, new Logistics Centers will be created adjacent to the Berm, enabling overland rail transportation and continued access between the Mississippi River and the Great Lakes for shipping purposes.