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Ideas To Rebuild Hurricane-Devastated New Orleans Showcased At Italian Fair

Ninth Ward, New Orleans. Bottom image: During Hurricane Katrina. Top image: 12 months later. Photo courtesy of AFP.
by Staff Writers
Venice (AFP) Italy, Sept 10, 2006
Ideas to rebuild the southern US city of New Orleans, devastated a year ago by a powerful hurricane, were showcased at an international architecture exhibition that opened in Venice, Italy on Sunday.

"After the flood: Building on higher ground" shows 10 projects designed by nine Americans and a Turkish architect to reconstruct New Orleans which was flooded when Hurricane Katrina slammed into the city on August 29, 2005, overpowering protective barriers that buckled under the huge weight of water.

The ten projects, which were shown at the US pavilion at the Venice Biennale, were chosen from among 400 designs submitted to an international competition.

"A year ago, just after the cyclone, the city was devastated and there were (rebuilding) initiatives in every which direction. We launched this competition to make people work together on a post-Katrina architecture," the exhibition's curator Christian Bruun told AFP.

"This is not just about a basic reconstruction. The whole relationship between architecture and the environment must be reconsidered," he said.

"New Orleans is condemned to flooding and cyclones so we should explore new ideas and use new technologies so that for once and for all we find a solution to allow people to live there," Bruun said.

Among the projects displayed on the pavilion's walls is an adaptable house on stilts sitting three metres (yards) above ground.

Another architect imagined a house that would rise above the ground only when a weather alert had been issued.

Aaron Brumo, a young architect from San Francisco, submitted an idea of huge green blow-up caterpillars about 10 metres long, made from material used in babies' nappies, that would replace traditional flood barriers.

Placed along the waterfront, the caterpillars would absorb the rising water, swelling gradually so that all the caterpillars eventually joined up together to form one huge barrier that blocked the advancing waters, Brumo explained.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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