UBC Graduate Research

At Sea Level Lai, Karen Yuen Nga


At Sea Level delves into the impacts of rising sea levels and resultant architectural responses. Countries like Vietnam, the Netherlands, Bangladesh and cities like Hamburg, New Orleans, Miami and Vancouver have been seeking to manage rising water levels and protect its residents from its potential impacts. This rise coupled with stronger storms create the perfect formula to sea level rise destruction. The first portion of this graduate project explores current flood mitigation construction categorized into 5 typologies: Elevated, Dryproofed, Floodable, Amphibious and Floating. It also delves into the phenomenology of water as a an architectural medium for hygiene, for play, and for relaxation. Five precedents were selected to investigate these methodologies and phenomenologies. The second portion of the project is presented as a story of the Vancouver Aquatic Centre located in Vancouver, Canada. Through a collection of real and mythic historical evidence, a narrative loop traversing through both a family’s history and that of greater culture is set against the context of an aging piece of civic infrastructure. Under siege from rising sea levels, the building transforms in response to environmental and social conditions over a 180 year period to allow for water to be perceived as something beautiful; reinforcing architecture’s capability to re-frame something that is feared into something that is valued. Water was used to enhance experiences as opposed to abandoning them. Water was the protagonist.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International