Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
thesis.pdf (1006.28 MB)

Wade in the Water: Reestablishing the natural landscape through the cultural landscape

Download (1006.28 MB)
posted on 2022-07-28, 00:34 authored by Christensen, Greta

The impact of global warming is often debated as a future issue which encourages complacency, inaction and even debate as to whether or not it is occurring at all. In low lying coastal cities such as New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.A. however, this uncertain future is already a reality. The delta cities ageing storm water infrastructure had been heralded as one of the worst civic engineering disasters in history and, since Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005 breaching the levee walls and flooding most of the city, the fear that New Orleans may be destine to become a modern day ‘Atlantis’ has hindered, not only the city’s ability to recover, but also to adapt to and mitigate the effect of temporary and permanent flooding.

The research takes the position that abandoning New Orleans is not an appropriate or reasoned response to the proliferation of the city’s vulnerability to flooding. The city’s cultural landscape is made up of a multiplicity of contexts and layers because the dynamic between the delta environment and New Orleans’s acculturated inhabitants is one of ebb and flow. Thus, it is not a place that could be reproduced anywhere else. As the existing storm water infrastructure, which is design to ‘defend’ the city from water, reaches the end of its lifespan there is an opportunity to rethink this system altogether. The research proposes that by identifying the underlying ecological system that makes up this environment, landscape architecture in itself can act as infrastructure - capable of serving the social and environmental needs of the local community, by producing an infrastructure that has evolved out of the local cultural landscape.

The thesis argues that it is possible to retain a sense of place identity and also ‘accept’ water back into the site by responding to the site’s multifaceted context. In order to achieve this the research considers, not only the ecological function of the terrain of water; but also how people orientate themselves in an active landscape; and how their culture may find cohesion through design which engenders place attachment and therefore reinforces place identity.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Landscape Architecture

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Landscape Architecture

ANZSRC Socio-Economic Outcome code

970112 Expanding Knowledge in Built Environment and Design

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Architecture


Brown, Daniel K.