A project by the Environmental Health Clinic at New York University and the Living Architecture Lab at Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation Commissioned for Toward the Sentient City, an exhibition by the Architectural League of New York.
Amphibious Architecture is a visual interface floating on the water's surface, a veritable looking glass into the aquatic ecosystem. This manufactured point of connection submerges ubiquitous computing into the one element that covers 90% of the Earth's inhabitable volume and which envelops New York City but remains under-explored and under-engaged. Installed at two sites along the East and the Bronx Rivers, this project is a network of floating interactive buoys housing a range of sensors below water and an array of light emitting diodes (LEDs) above water. The sensors monitor water quality, the presence of fish, and human interest in the river's ecosystem, while the lights respond to the sensors, creating feedback loops between humans, fish in their shared environment. Additionally an SMS interface allows homo-citizens to text-message the fish and receive real-time information about the river, contributing towards the collective display of human interest in the aquatic environment. The aim of which is to simultaneously spark a larger public interest and dialogue about our local waterways.
Distinctly moving away from the pervasive 'do-not-disturb' approach to urban environmentalism, the project encourages curiosity and engagement. Treating the river water as a reflective surface to mirror our own homo-image and architecture, establishing a two-way interface between the terrestrial and the aquatic. The project thus creates a dynamic and captivating layer of light above the surface of the river, making visible the invisible through real-time mapping of the new ecology of people, marine life, buildings, and public space.