Lateral Office / InfraNet Lab
Mason White, Lola Sheppard, Daniel Rabin, Fei-ling Tseng
The American Southwest is the site of one of the nation's most unusual contradictions. It is both the driest region and home to the most rapidly increasing populations. More specifically, the Colorado River Water Basin remains a site for some of the country's most ambitious 20th Century infrastructure interventions including dams, aqueducts, water banks, and canals. This region, once again, is the site of intense debate on how to address an increasingly fragile ecology, and a complex economy of agriculture and tourism that relies upon this ecology. There are plans in place to manage the Imperial Valley and terminal Salton Sea, but these plans miss an infrastructural opportunity. We see this opportunity as a chance to introduce an infrastructure that is incremental and allows for a coupling of production systems, vibrant cultures, and threatened ecosystems. The Salton offers an ideal case study for America to demonstrate the potential of working public architecture 2.0.
Our proposal aims to create working public architecture that operates at a very large regional scale, though it employs micro-scale, incremental soft infrastructure. The Salton Sea edge is populated by three primary new marina cities that center on the site as productive, recreational, and wild. Within the sea itself, are deployable buoyant pools that maintain different levels of salinity to encourage a range of applications from recreation to harvest. Among other attributes, the pools are equipped to passively separate water and salt, generating a regional water (and salt) economy. Our vision is for a WPA 2.0, unlike WPA 1.0, that allows for infrastructure to behave as an ecosystem; it can grow, shrink, change priorities, feed, protect, and cultivate new species.