Harvesting Memory

Supervisors / Mabel Wilson, Zach Colbert

Fall Semester //2014 // GSAPP // Columbia University

Harvesting Memory + WATER situates itself within the global force of climate change. It assumes a radical position where the environmental dynamics of Johannesburg and South Africa are drastically changed. A once dry and arid country is now inundated with heavy flooding seasons and the race for higher terra firma is on. Gold is no longer the prized commodity as clean water and fertile ground become the key sources for
survival. 

The project’s site is currently named Walter Sisulu Square of Dedication. It is located next to a wetland and is a UNESCO protected site. Informal settlements with some 22,000 - 24,000 residents occupy the margin of land that exists between the site and wetland to the West.

Harvesting Memory returns the site to its earliest memory as a blank land canvas. Residents from the informal settlement seek higher ground and begin to reside on the site. As the water level continues to rise the polluted water from the wetland begins to spread. The lack of clean water forces the residents to initiate the cleaning of the wetlands using techniques of phytoremediation. As results start to show they begin to harvest and nurture the strip of land that extends through to the current golf club. The topography of the site begins to transform as they construct an “arcological” landform overtime. The building is able to support the community through agriculture and exports its produce to neighbouring suburbs and districts.