Energy flows : empowering New Orleans
Author(s)Guiraud, Florence Nathalie
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Architecture.
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This thesis claims to develop alternative energy-harvesting systems by looking at their implementation at the residential scale in order to facilitate the economical autonomy of a community and thus improve its living conditions. It can be said that the evolution of the farming tools brought an opportunity of emancipation to farmers -- greater production yields than what was necessary to subsist were sold on markets thus increasing the economical power of the farmer and conceptually stretching the domestic space to the field owned. Taking the hurricane-devastated, slow-recovering New Orleans as a site for intervention, the thesis will challenge existing building materials for their flood resistance and reaction to an inundated environment while developing tools to harvest energy from the multiple environmental conditions present at this location. Ultimately, the thesis will try to demonstrate how these tools will influence geography and the concept of property. Six years after the devastation of hurricane Katrina, New Orleans is still struggling to gain economical growth solely depending on tourism and oil-related businesses. Louisiana's offshore oil industry benefits from an exemption of state taxation, creating an unbalanced economical and ecological situation. Louisiana's oil is being drilled without Louisiana receiving any monetary compensation, and the bayou's biodiversity is being devastated from reoccurring oil spills along with the dredging of the sediments at the bottom of the Mississippi river to facilitate the movement of tankers and protect settlements along the river's edge. New Orleans' population currently relies on the Army Corps of Engineers' infrastructure and a colonized oil industry to survive, while it could insure its own protection against natural disasters by regaining stewardship over land and water, and by competing with the oil industry through the creation of an alternate energy market. Through the investigation of newly developed materials and energy systems created for industrial uses, and by understanding their potential in the domestic realm, this thesis will seek to create new techniques of harvesting energy which will respond to the different climatic and topographical conditions present in New Orleans; the strong winds, the variations in tides, the current velocity of the Mississippi River and the potential of the bayou's biodiversity. Moreover, it hopes to generate new methods of residential constructions and typology, adapted to different disaster threat level conditions particular to the area, and potentially reorganize the domestic realm according to its new added functions. Recognizing the possibility of another flood in New Orleans and understanding the effect of the Army Corps of Engineer's flood prevention devices on the bayou's ecosystem, the thesis's methodology will require a thorough analysis of existing hydrological methods of flood protection and water based harvest, hydro-morphological and geomorphological patterns, creating a catalog of tools from which one may start speculating in the design phase. An analysis of selected urban and architectural precedents will be useful to assess the potential of each tool and its particular repercussions on the landscape and the organization of the greater urban form. Further analysis will be devoted to energy producing and harvesting devices, procuring the thesis with insights of their impact on existing infrastructure and their potential at the residential scale for both energy performance and architectural adaptation. The content of this research will be continuously tested. Other important implementation strategies, land organization and transformation will be investigated through different scales of physical models, constantly informing the specificity of the design to its physical and ecological environment.
Thesis (M. Arch.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Architecture, 2012.This electronic version was submitted by the student author. The certified thesis is available in the Institute Archives and Special Collections.Cataloged from student-submitted PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (p. 120-121).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Architecture.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology