In the song “Five Feet High and Rising,” Johnny Cash sings “Well, the rails are washed out north of town/ We got to head for higher ground/ We can’t come back till the water goes down/ Five feet high and risin’.” Unfortunately, with climate change we are facing a future where the water will not go back down. Even before we have to develop buildings and cities that can withstand the inundation, we have to consider what it means to live when the land is no longer flooded. It’s constantly and perpetually underwater.
Fortunately, architect Weston Wright has done more than just think about this. He has put together a new book called More Water, Less Land, New Architecture: Sea Level Rise and the Future of Coastal Urbanism that develops the concept of wet architecture and considers the urbanism that surrounds it. In this week’s podcast, Ray Dubicki talks with Wright about the history of people resisting the higher tide and what we can learn from them as the water doesn’t recede. Wet architecture is a reconsideration of everything, from materials to size to mobility. It sounds like a lot, but Wright comes from a core of optimism. These changes are possible, and these places very livable.
We want to know your thoughts, opinions, and what you do when blessed with a little more rain. Reach out to us at podcast [at] theurbanist.org.
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Ray Dubicki is a stay-at-home dad and parent-on-call for taking care of general school and neighborhood tasks around Ballard. This lets him see how urbanism works (or doesn’t) during the hours most people are locked in their office. He is an attorney and urbanist by training, with soup-to-nuts planning experience from code enforcement to university development to writing zoning ordinances. He enjoys using PowerPoint, but only because it’s no longer a weekly obligation.