First Prize, Winner - WPA 2.0 cityLAB Design Competition, 2009

Fadi Masoud

The location of New Orleans at the mouth of the Mississippi River made it both the terminus and the entry point into an extremely productive river. The demur of the port operations left the banks of the Mississippi river, and associated industrial canals, littered with hundreds of abandoned, polluted, and hazardous stretches of concrete and rubble.

The proposal is to take the dangerous and abandoned portion of the Industrial Canal, which is slated to be filled and closed by the Army Corps of Engineers, and turn it into a series of levee ponds - ponds that operate both as a flood protection mechanism from storm surges all the while creating a productive infrastructure for aquaculture. Acknowledging the site’s original state as marshland, keeping it constantly saturated will kick start the processes and systems that are true to the nature and ecology of the region.

Further recognizing that Louisiana’s third largest source of income, after the port operations and tourism is aquaculture and crawfish/rice harvesting, the introduction of a productive piece of landscape infrastructure in the heart of the city will no doubt introduce a new narrative for the form and processes of the urban periphery in neighbourhoods such as that of Pontchartrain Park, positively impacting the quality of life in a city that is a in a constant struggle.

It is envisioned that the Aquaculture Canal will be operated and managed much like its counter “dry” urban agriculture plots that are abundant in cities the world over. A community-driven approach to the governance of the canal that acknowledges that informal processes are in response to the inability of formal structures and higher governance to react properly to New Orleans’s pressures and challenges. Evident in many examples across New Orleans, the strength and the soul of New Orleans is in its people and their ability to be determent and resilient. This intervention would engage these informal processes, offer a new economic narrative to what was once a bustling economic spine and bring improvements to the quality of life of the neighbourhoods that surround it.