Public Lab Research note

Public Lab River Rat Pack -- St. Louis – Xiaoqing Qin

by Xiaoqing | May 11, 2016 17:04 11 May 17:04 | #13102 | #13102

Have been in St. Louis for three years for my master of landscape architecture in Washington University, it is Derek’s Public Lab River Rat Pack class for the first time that gave me such a series of site visits systematically along the rivers and the water system around. The large number of aerial photos from our balloon/kite flies in different angles amazed me: there are so many details I have never noticed in and along the rivers before when I was looking at aerial photos from other online sources like Google Earth for my other projects, and I think the accumulation of those details are shaping the landscape and will make a big difference for us to understand how the influence of water on our living environment.

I started to document my own observation by creating the water flow diagrams generating from aerial photos, collaborating with students diagraming vegetation and water infrastructure. These water flow diagrams are my personal interpretation of the direction and velocity of both the river water and the storm water, which I regard them as a work in-between science and design. There is the beauty of the natural water flows, shaped by Mother Nature’s geology millions years ago, which is quit missing in our urban landscape today. The next time if recreating any waterscape in the urban context, maybe we will have inspirations from here. There is the warning of human occupation at the riverfront. The flood is ruthless to anything in front, no guarantee our flood-preventing facility can work every time. At the same time, the increase of impervious surface and channelized riverbed in urbanized area keep adding power to the storm water. There is the ecological value behind, where water slow down, curve back and deposit, the sediment and nutrient create small refugees for certain plants and animals.

In the end, I want to appreciate the opportunity to work with students of science background and other design disciplines, and meet different people in the community. I learned a lot from you and I am proud we have such a wonderful exhibition with everybody's work together. I hope there will be more other engagement to keep the project going in the future.



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