a climate adaptation amphibious training lab

Gita Nandan, ℅ thread collective
Zehra Kuz, Pratt Institute

RETI Center, BlueCity LAB [BCL] will be the first off-grid, community-based, floating climate lab and public space in the US. It is a model and testing ground for a climate responsive architectural innovation that deploys design principles for amphibious structure supported by scientific climate adaptation research and experiment, with a community education workforce training focus. BCL creates a framework to transform the City’s shoreline with post-carbon solutions.

NYC must face the reality of climate change and develop new modes of equitable adaptation and resilient waterfronts, not in 100 years but now. It is predicted we will see at minimum, six feet of sea-level rise by 2100. While political forces are negligent in building flood barriers to protect our communities, as a team of planners, designers, engineers, and architects, we ask ourselves instead, How can we design and live with water now? What is a new paradigm for urban coastal inhabitation for the next 50-years? The timing is critical.

BCL envisions the possibilities of an organic amphibious structural prototype; a living, breathing dynamic and integrated ecosystem which will develop its existence entirely based on its interactions with the surrounding environment and tidal flows. BCL will be a hybrid between a vessel and a building providing a laboratory-like / training atmosphere; it will actively create net-positive loops related to energy, water, air, food, and aquamarine habitat. It is designed to be self-sustaining generating positive clean environmental systems through carbon-neutral biophilic concrete formwork, solar capture skins, aquatic kelp and mussel habitats, phytoremediation floating gardens, water-heat exchanger, anaerobic digestion, and a desalination system to name a few of the advanced technologies to be tested and showcased in BCL. The 13-acre waterfront of GBX Terminal, in Red Hook Brooklyn, is secured as the home.

Keywords – Amphibious, Carbon-capture technology, Red Hook Brooklyn, Net-positive, Self-sustaining


Ms. Nandan is an architect, designer, educator, and leader in community resilience planning and design. She is principal of the award-winning design firm thread collective, board chair of RETI Center, and visiting associate professor at Pratt Institute GCPE and the School for Visual Arts. Ms. Nandan believes in resilience and sustainable design as an elastic and supple approach, integrating social, cultural, and economic issues with high design principles to create innovative net-positive urban environments. Working for over 20 years, Ms. Nandan has overseen design and construction on a wide range of scales, such as Concrete Waves, a skateboard stormwater capture system for youth in the Lower East Side, to an 100-acre off-grid hospitality center. Her work is at the nexus of where design meets the ecology of place, and future proofing the city, driven by finding creative solutions. M. Arch, UC Berkeley; licensed practitioner in New York and New Jersey.

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