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As sea levels rise globally, port cities everywhere face real challenges to their continued existences. It is a real shame that the oil and industry tycoons of New York City’s past didn’t foresee the impacts of their fortune-making exploits. They could have funded levies and dykes instead of block-sized mansions. But, hindsight is 20/20 and they’re all dead now, so what do they care? 

Courtesy of Tingwei Xu and Xie Zhang

Tingwei Xu and Xie Zhang of the University of Pennsylvania have designed an system of ‘membranes’ which would protect the certain areas of the city where they are implemented. The buildings would litterally wear these membranes as suspenders of sorts. They drape off buildings at the water’s edge, providing waterproofing, lighting options and terracing for public use and agricultural planting.”]

Courtesy of Tingwei Xu and Xie Zhang

Instead of an individual levy which is weaker precisely because of its isolation, the draped membranes exist in a symbiotic relationship with the buildings they couple to. Waterproofing and weather resistance for the buildings, structure and support for the membranes. The area between old, rigid buildings and the flowing membrane becomes one of constant flux, creating an area of unprecedented ecology in new, New York.

Courtesy of Tingwei Xu and Xie Zhang

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