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MVRDV_We came across a drawing of one schoolkid

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Since Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast last fall, well-meaning architects, designers and planners the world over have been scrambling to submit proposals for rebuilding New Orleans. Surprisingly, however, the discussion has mainly been concentrated around what to rebuild - sidestepping the deeper issues of how and why rebuild in a floodplain at all. It is common knowledge that New Orleans was a disaster waiting to happen, simply because of the physical geological situation of the area. The city sits below sea-level in an area of former wetlands, surrounded by water in every direction - sandwiched between a giant lake, the Mississippi river and the ocean. Clearly the only acceptable proposals for rebuilding New Orleans are ones that propose a solution to deal with the almost certain likelihood of being flooded again.

Sometimes it takes an outsider with a fresh pair of eyes to realize the obvious. In this case, it was the syncronicity between a New Orleans schoolgirl named Courtney S. and Dutch architectural firm MVRDV which led to a great idea for rebuilding New Orleans: build hills! The idea is so simple, so sensible, so obvious, and yet strangely no-one had seriously proposed it. Until now….


[Newer Orleans]

We came across a drawing of one schoolkid. She drew this hill with people walking up to the top in the rain. It had something religious aswell as sentimental to it, but the simpleness was highly appealing. Perhaps we should build and realize her dream...
A school that can serve as a public hill. From where everyone can look over the neighborhood, the city, the landscape. A clear haven. Where children play. With benches and swings in the trees...
All programmatic elements are situated above sealevel and can be used in case of emergency. They stick out of the hill, as tubes, to shelter them, and to prevent them from possible outside intrusions. Thus they form verandahs, as in Southern homes, inverting the enclosed courtyard of the traditional school...
Together they form a ‚sputnik'-like configuration, that can be visualized if one makes an X-ray of the hill. This ‚sputnik' is covered with earth. The slopes are public and are covered with grass. They can be used for playing, skateboarding, picknicks and as tribunes towards the park with sports activities.
Thus the school becomes remarkable. Everyone knows where it is. But at the same time it is modest. It is landscape. It is maybe not architecture. It thus avoids the possible discussions on architectural representations, so vulnerable and politisized in this operation...
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