Biological Water Treatment in New York Uses Oysters for Purification

Biomimicry is a term that is getting passed around more and more in the field of sustainable architecture and urbanism these days. Learning from nature we can potentially build sustainable buildings that are not only good for us but good for the planet. It can also teach us about regeneration and cleansing of your surroundings through simple organic methods. Oysters for example can be used to biologically treat polluted water and purify  thousands of polluted urban rivers worldwide without the need to use costly and carbon hungry purification methods.

One Oyster can clean up 50 Gallons of water a day

Architect Kate Orff sees the oyster as an agent of urban change. Bundled into beds and sunk into city rivers, oysters slurp up pollution and make legendarily dirty waters clean — thus driving even more innovation in “oyster-tecture.” Orff shares her vision for an urban landscape that links nature and humanity for mutual benefit.

About Kate Orff

*Kate is a landscape architect who thinks deeply about sustainable development, biodiversity and community-based change—and suggests some surprising and wonderful ways to make change through landscape. She’s a professor at Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, where she’s a director of the Urban Landscape Lab. She’s the co-editor of the new book Gateway: Visions for an Urban National Park, about the Gateway National Recreation Area, a vast and underused tract of land spreading across the coastline of Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and New Jersey.

She is principal of SCAPE, a landscape architecture and urban design office with projects ranging from a 1,000-square-foot pocket park in Brooklyn to a 100-acre environmental center in Greenville, SC, to a 1000-acre landfill regeneration project in Dublin, Ireland.

“Perhaps the snazziest proposal is also the oddest, calling for oyster beds in the Gowanus Canal. The oyster reefs, as imagined by Kate Orff, would ease the impact of storms and filter pollution in the water. Orff’s fantastical future also includes a flupsy (for “flowing upweller system”) parade of oyster-filled boats along the Gowanus.”

Samantha Henig, “Earl Versus the Oysters,” New Yorker, Sept. 2, 2010

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Author: Fermín Beltrán

Fermín Beltrán has worked in Architecture for many years gaining a wide range of real-world design and construction experience. He is fascinated by finding alternatives methods of creating modern architecture in ways that are sustainable, elegant, comfortable and functional. He has vast experience designing and constructing a wide array of buildings ranging from state-of-the-art music halls to social housing and even small holdings in South America. He is currently completing a Masters in Advanced Sustainability at the University of Dundee in Scotland Connect with him on » LinkedIn » and on Flickr

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