Oyster-tecture: Mollusk Landscaping A Sustainable Future

Oyster-tecture: Mollusk Landscaping A Sustainable Future

Landscape architect Kate Orff proposes building oyster reefs in the harbor of New York City as a way to fight pollution and protect against climate change.

John Ryan
  • 3 february 2011

SCAPE concept drawing

Landscape architect Kate Orff has a novel idea to clean up New York City’s polluted Gowanus Canal and protect the city from sea level rise and storm surges by building an artificial oyster reef off of Governor’s Island. Oysters are natural pollutant filters, each capable of cleaning 50 gallons of water a day. Orff envisions by creating an “oyster-tecture” ecosystem cycling through the waterways of New York, the Gowanus Canal could be clean enough to eat from by 2050. The oyster-framing mega-reef structure would also provide natural wave attenuation and new habitats for wildlife, a buttress against climate change. Orff was inspired by the city’s past oyster economy, when the streets were literally paved with shells and oyster carts were as common as hot dog stands are today. Orff sees a return to a mollusk-based economy and culture in which urban canals are lined with floating oyster-nurseries which she calls “flupsies.”

Kate Orff presented Oyster-tecture at MoMA/PS1 as part of Rising Currents, a design-project response to climate change and sea-level rise. Orff is a professor at the Columbia Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation and the principal of the SCAPE landscape architecture office.

TED: Reviving New York’s Rivers – With Oysters!


General Electric: Lighting’s Impact On Sleep Is More Than The Off Switch

Travel Today

Thirty Year Old Photographs Used As Travel Guides

A new photo series revolves around tracing the origins of images from the past

Gaming & Play Today

IKEA Is Letting Kids Design Its New Line Of Toys

The products are taken from fanciful drawings that showcase the imagination of those who use it most


Get PSFK's Related Report: Future of Work

See All
Technology Today

Album Turns Into Something New Each Time It’s Streamed

Bill Baird's new album explores the relationship between time and music through a website crafted by design team, One Pixel Wide

Health Today

VR App Prescribed For Pain Relief

A pharmacy chain in Sweden is stepping away from tradition to develop a happy place for the pain-afflicted

Related Expert

Penny Baldwin

Marketing, Branding, Business, Technology

Retail Today

Banks Are Coming Together To Create A New Payment Network That Rivals Venmo

A number of financial institutions are collaborating to make a new person-to-person monetary system called Zelle for their customers

Media & Publishing Today

Pocket Camera Aims To Facilitate The Struggles Of Live Streams

The Mevo helps resolve the complexities of streaming video with an intuitive setup and smart editing controls

Food Today

Startup Believes Traceability Will Help Disrupt The Multivitamin Industry

Ritual is a daily supplement for women that traces every ingredient back to its source


Future Of Automotive
Scenarios Driving The Digital Transformation Of An Industry

PSFK Op-Ed Yesterday

Creative Leadership Expert: Experiencing A Seismic Shift From Brand Loyalty To Interface Loyalty

Marc Shillum, founder of Chief Creative Office, explains why product designers must rethink the way they capture consumer attention

PSFK Labs october 25, 2016

The Keys For Exceptional Performance On And Off The Field

PSFK Labs' new report highlights five important insights for businesses to perform better than the competition

Food Today

Photo Series Brutally Murders Some Of Your Favorite Fast Food

The portraits by artist duo Ilka & Franz do away with mealtime regulars in a way that is both beautiful and humorous

Mobile Today

Coffeemaker Teaches You How To Make The Perfect Cup

The device comes with an accompanying app that guides novices and experts alike through the brewing process

Brand Development Today

The Story Behind How LYNK & CO Created A Car Brand From Scratch

Head of Design Andreas Nilsson describes which values were most influential in determining the identity and design direction of the new auto company

Travel Today

Architect’s Design Presents A Radically New Approach For New York’s Penn Station

The firm of Vishaan Chakrabarti has envisioned a bright community and travel hub in the heart of the city

Fitness & Sport Today

Editorial Roundtable: Building An All-Encompassing Performance Suite

WHOOP, ShotTracker, Rithmio, PlaySight, STYR Labs, EverybodyFights and Lift / Next Level Floats on the partnership opportunities available in health and fitness

Health Today

Fantasy Game Responds To Each Player’s Emotions

The card battling venture measures responses through a Bluetooth clip to adjust the experience accordingly

Luxury Today

Carry A Map Of NYC On A Handbag

The bag from Bottega Veneta has been designed exclusively for Bergdorf Goodman to celebrate New York City

Technology Today

Roaming Robots Crawl Around Your Body To Do Small Jobs As You Go About Your Day

A new concept wearable developed by researchers at MIT and Stanford are fully functional bots that live on your clothing

No search results found.