Hyper-tidal Aggregates capitalizes on the unique properties of EPS Geofoam and envisions this polymer as landscape construction material in coastal and estuarine environments. This proposal calls on the combination of agencies between living and artificial material – the halophilic and adaptive nature of mangroves and the buoyant, indestructible properties of Geofoam. It is a reconceptualization of plastics in the modern age that seeks to not only fortify threatened habitats, but also sow the seeds of new landmasses.
Geofoam is deployed as a lightweight, high-compressive strength material in manufacturing, engineering and construction projects. It is used in buildings, bridges and roads – each year becoming more widely applied in landscape construction. Its properties provide specific advantages on soft ground and steep slopes over that of other conventional building materials like concrete. However, Hyper-tidal Aggregates capitalizes on its buoyant force and the potential for this artificial material to create new landscapes in coastal and estuarine environments.
Rhizophora mangle thrive in tropical areas around the world. The grow unique aerial prop roots that establish above the water before sinking deep into the plant’s surrounding substrate. Their viviparous seeds grow suspended in the air before dropping and have the ability to travel over tides before rooting – remaining viable for 365 days in the water. Mangrove biomes are aggregations of trees that have grown and merged together, providing marine habitat, stabilizing sediment, and performing as an invaluable carbon sink.
Natural mangrove habitats are quickly disappearing. They are threatened not only by global warming, but also fishing industries that require mangroves to be cut down. The reestablishment of mangrove environments is difficult because of sediment acquisition and deposition; however, Geofoam acts as the bridge between these demands. The biology and growth patterns of these species of trees mirrors that of the Geofoam aggregate assemblages. Geometries of polymer foam can be cut off site be carried in, assembled in parts and applied at the water’s edge with mangrove propagules embedded within. Geofoam can be exposed to any range of salinity, temperature and moisture without losing its durable qualities. It behaves as soil and sand, supporting the plants as they grow and floating above the tide as the trees establish. The design of each aggregate can be site specific, molding to existing landscape conditions while providing for the juvenile mangroves. As these habitats grow more robust, the artificial landscape material is taken over by the prop roots. These environments can continue to thrive and support the water’s edge as well as be moved to open water. Hyper-tidal Aggregates imagines new landscapes that seed in brackish and coastal waters, but have the potential to create new islands – hybrids of the living and artificial.