AT SEA LEVEL

1970 - 2150

KAREN LAI
M.ARCH


Flood myths common among cultures around the world, such as Noah’s Ark in the Hebrew Bible, Deucalion in Greek mythology, to Gun-Yu in Chinese lore, have reinforced the fear that water catastrophes could eradicate humanity. But can that change?

Through a collection of real and mythic historical evidence, a narrative loop traversing through both a family’s history and that of greater culture is set against the context of an aging piece of civic infrastructure. Under siege from rising sea levels, the building transforms in response to environmental and social conditions to allow water to be perceived as something beautiful; reinforcing architecture’s capability to reframe something that is feared into something that is valued.

When mom passed away, she left me a box in her will. Inside the box were some small trinkets and artifacts that seemed to have been sentimental throughout hers and my grandmother’s life.

2030. A stack of newspaper articles from the Vancouver Sun clipped to some architectural plans must have been passed down from grandma. Shortly after she graduated, the competitive swimming at the Vancouver Aquatic Centre (VAC) was moved a few blocks east.

The existing structure then began to transform in response to values and needs of the community and rising water levels.

2070. Based on mom’s diary entries, the diving pool had eventually been transformed into a performance stage in the summer. When groundwater levels rose in the winter, it turned back into an indoor recreational pool. The old lap pool was transformed into a community garden for the residents in the towers nearby. The next year, the cycle repeats.

2150. The rising water has reached the based of the old building. The shell was removed, revealing the diving towers that are now used as viewing towers. A floating platform is constructed out of the concrete T panels of the old building shell, where aquabuses now dock and provide access to the viewing towers.


This was the transformation of a building under siege from rising sea levels. Although the building as grandma had remembered it as a child no longer exists, its relationship with water has not disappeared. Water was re-framed from being feared to being valued by enhancing experiences as opposed to abandoning them.

committee:
Daniel Irvine
Kees Lokman
Bill Pechet [CHAIR]