Flood of Ecology - Floodplain Habitation
Larger and more devastating flood events are happening more frequently across the planet, but flooding is a natural occurrence for any river system. It is only due to human modification of the river system, through the removal of natural features and attempts at flood control, that creates flood hazards that cause damage to communities and ecosystems. Kapiti Coast’s terrain consisted, pre 19th century, of a mixture of dense coastal forests and extensive wetlands. The landscape has and always will be prone to flooding. With the addition of the expressway to the region, making it easier to travel to and from the capital Wellington, it is expected that the population of Kapiti will grow. But biodiversity may get lost, and flooding may become increasingly more frequent. How might new settlers learn to live with flooding and the constant risk that every time it rains it may cause damage to their homes or businesses? Can there be other benefits to floodplain management, such as biodiversity and recreation? The aim of this research is to investigate and develop strategies to aid in the settlement of floodplains so that biodiversity is improved, allowing people to live with floods and without the fear that flooding may cause damage. Specifically, the design-led research seeks to generate solutions that improve both flood awareness and flood protection along the Waikanae River. The design seeks to allow the river to express its own flow patterns, and then secondly, how settlement will work within that. It can then be a catalyst for settlement of floodplain areas along the edge of the river. This thesis will explore how ecology, rehabilitation and natural flood protection can be employed amongst an expanding urban context to create a new way of thinking about our rivers and mitigating the ever pressing issue of flooding.