Just about everyone learned in their early geography classes that the Nile Valley was once a fertile haven. Crops proliferated on the green banks due to natural flooding that deposited rich nutrients, although occasionally these floods inundated and destroyed crops as well, and the land of the Pharaohs was a mecca for agriculture.
But when construction on the Aswan Dam began in 1902, the ecosystem was forever altered. The natural flooding cycle was disrupted, silt began to accumulate in places and crucial nutrients were no longer deposited. Margaux Leycuras, Marion Ottmann and Anne-Hina Mallette hope to restore it with Hydropolis – a series of floating modular structures that reorganize the local agricultural system.
Students from the Architecture school of Nantes, the team who designed Hydropolis recently won a prize in a competition organized by the Foundation Jacques Rougerie. Their idea was to develop a well-integrated modular system that would solve the dual problem of hunger and environmental destruction.
The design proposes in part to restore something of the Nile River’s natural flooding system by opening the dam gates during the wettest months of the year ( July to September.) This would allow the fields to receive their nutrients, as well as a certain level of hydro saturation, so that rice crops can grow once again.
The floating cities would be organized on different sections of Lake Nasser, creating “eco-modules” on a 200 meter deep reservoir. While the floodgates are open, these reservoirs will likewise receive water to see the communities through the dry months.
Ideally suited for rice cultivation, this system would be connected by a series of canals and other links that enhance cohesiveness among the various communities.
A sea wall envelope would shelter the city and the Nile River can return to its initial work.
While Hydropolis seems rather far-fetched for Egypt given its current economic and political environment, not to mention the dispute between Egypt and its neighbors to the south over water rights, it is a thoughtful idea and we’ll be keeping a close eye on its development.
:: Arch Daily