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The Reemergence of a Dynamic Landscape: A New Delta Ecology

Studio: Thesis           

Advisors: D. Turnbull, H. Eber and U. Grau


Located in the Sacramento – San Joaquin Delta, this proposal is an effort to rethink the inhabitation of a landscape in crisis. Beginning in the 1850’s this Delta was converted from fresh water tidal marshland into a series of islands constructed with levees around the perimeter, and drained in order to “reclaim” land for agricultural production. Due to various factors, this reclaimed farmland began to compact, contributing to the current condition; with the islands contained by the levees more than 20’ lower than their natural height.


This project proposes a return to the dynamic condition of the original landscape by systematically reimagining agricultural production, which allows for the inundation of the islands as needed. In doing so, the risk of levee failure and resulting property damage can be mitigated. This new landscape allows for the creation of new modes of connecting the region. By concentrating the inhabitation and commerce of these islands at the proposed infrastructural elements, the region can streamline the circulation of goods while also creating valuable public space that will serve as a place of recreation. In conclusion, the problems the region faces as a result of the dereliction of its natural ecology and the inefficiencies of its built infrastructure require a bold re-visioning of the regions ecology, commerce, and modes of transit.

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