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Porous Neighborhood  

Palm Beach County, Florida, USA

Studio Work @ MIT Urban Design Studio | 12/2015

Advisor: Prof. Adele Santos, Prof. Alan Berger, Prof. Fadi Masoud

Status Quo

Facing the urgent challenge of sea water level rising, Palm Beach County is encountering a transition at which it needs more ecological, more hydrographical and more impact development. The site of Loxahatchee Groves is relatively low land and surrounded by high impervious rate neighborhoods, which means that the hollow land would flood severely during wet season, and will be affected most heavily when sea level rises.


Current wetland and lakes occupy more than 12% of the site. The total impervious rate of Loxahatchee Grove is quite low, smaller than 6%, which is an advantage. There is plenty room for planners and landscape architects to make a difference. It is a humid breeding ground for agriculture, aquaculture and neighborhoods. The nature of this land suggests a new mode of development which is to intervene urban development with hydrographic, wetland reserve, aquaculture, agriculture and neighborhoods.


What if the low land and existing wetland and waterbody are connected into a corridor to sustain the floods? What if the hydraulic infrastructures and sidewalks are embedded with the corridor? What if new urban development and neighborhoods are embedded with the corridor?

By embedding functions ranging from “always wet” (waterbody, water treatment, aquaculture farms), “semi wet” (wetland reserve, groves farm, wetland neighborhood) to “relative dry” (farms, neighborhood, PUD lots), the new Loxahatchee Groves will see such a porous neighborhood that are adaptable to future uncertainties. The framework of porous neighborhood not only sustain capacity of floods, but also the uncertain need of the development of Palm Beach County. In general the proposal aims to be resilient both ecologically and social-economically.


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