I balanced object and regional scales to learn how to incite community agency and mitigate natural space in the context of climate change.
The brackish confluence of stormwater and wake water force create unique shore erosion conditions in Narragansett Bay. By documenting the impervious surfaces of built conditions, and indicating the failure points of roads due to sea level rise and storm surge, one can recognize “end of road retrofits” that are optimal for a pervious paving system.
The proposed paving system has multiple components- it is light and simple enough to manufacture by community members, can be placed to create a walking path for beach access, and storages and filters of stormwater at the edge of the pavement. The module is made of concrete, and can be filled with on site material, such as soil, gravel, or sand. It is also easily removed when the inevitable retreat is necessary to lay a foundation for new beach shore protection. The retrofits themselves from a new network of small access points along the bay, allowing for community placemaking and actively remediating damage from stormwater erosion.
Section 17 of the Rhode Island Constitution guarantees a person’s right to passage along the shore, between mean low and high tides. This means public access will dramatically shift with higher sea levels. Additionally, climate change increases the volume and speed of precipitation, increasing upland flooding. Coupled with the loss of marshes on Narragansett Bay, more water moves across surfaces faster, increasing erosion of the fragile shore.
These impervious surfaces are the result of human development, typically roads and sidewalks, that directly meet the bay. The pavement is impervious, so stormwater is unable to infiltrate the soil and drains directly into the bay, bringing along harmful chemicals and pollutants.