Provincetown, Massachusetts, USA
Provincetown Year 2200
Climate Change is one of the defining issues our world is facing now. Its direct impact – sea level rising, is slowly compromising many major coastal cities all around the world. Though the problem is critical, the giants will have the capitalistic power to actively deal with the impending threats. Mega cities such as New York and Boston are already on its way of erecting formidable sea defense systems for the future. However, small seaside cities such as Provincetown do not have similar capability for building such infrastructure.
This project intends to confront such dilemma by proposing a critical conservational strategy, which let go most of the shoreline area of Provincetown and focuses its goal on preserving the central historical downtown. The new sea levee is envisioned as an inhabitable structure with double loaded street, resonating with and connecting the original main commercial street to form a loop condition.
Instead of imposing an alien object with defensive mechanisms, the form of the defense is intentionally blended with the new coastline. From a far, one cannot tell the coastline has been artificially modified at the first glance. The shoreline appears to be the product of natural sea level rising. Yet when examined closely, the form of the levee is carefully controlled in every aspect. It is a hyper artificial landscape that manifests itself as a natural outcome.
The new levee as part of the small-town urban fabric should not appear itself to be heavy and monumental. Instead it should respect the vernacular and derive its characteristics from the existing tectonics. Therefore, from human perspective, the levee presents itself as a loosely organized development that connects to the old Commercial Street to form a new, looped Commercial Street, which kept the linear experience of the original street, while introducing a semi-new typology to the whole.
On the other hand, the levee should regain the legibility of a defensive infrastructure at a vantage view, where the historical observational tower lies. To achieve this dual legible experience of the daily nuance against the monumental whole, the geometrical composition of the levee is developed in a sequential diagrammatic manner. The monumentality is buried deep in the compositional layers. It only manifests itself when viewing from the central tower.
Three large pier buildings are situated along the primary axis on the levee. They penetrate through the levee and going back into the central park. Their presence registers the threat of sea level against the protected lower inland. The pier buildings respectively are hotel, plaza + museum, and sports center. Together they serve various aspects of tourism demands of the Provincetown.
On each secondary node, there is a turning corner condition. The fillet is informed by the turning radius of vehicle in order to let parade trucks to pass through, also allowing the lower floor of the levee to be used as city traffic circulation.The geometries of the levee houses and sheds are the result of the projection of the oblique seawall. While the houses are lifted from the ground level with the roofs reflecting such projection, the open market sheds are the phantom vestigial of the seawall structure, which lend itself defensive characteristics when viewing from certain perspectives. The ground of the levee is sheared into two datums to reduce the oppressing sense viewing from inland caused by the required height of the pier structure.
At the ends of the levee, the linear structure unzips itself to complete the transition from the historical downtown to the new development. The inner side of the levee street folds back to connect with the outer side of the Commercial Street. The outer side of the levee street remains its function as a seawall and keeps going inland, to protect the historical city center from the sea. Bradford Street, Provincetown’s main traffic road, digress itself into the lower level of the levee at where the levee unzips. The gap created by the unzipping operation becomes the seaside parking space for the visitors.