The hydro-habitat is a pier that treats water as both a living resource and a landscape. It emerges from the understanding that New York City's East River is highly polluted, but efforts to combat this pollution must be accompanied by education efforts. Additionally, The Paris Agreement’s declaration that people need to be educated about climate change adds to the conceptual framework. To do so, it reexamines the existing relationship of Manhattan’s eastern edge to the river bordering it and breaks down the separation between land and water. 
The separation between land and water is broken down as the project dips into the water, and in certain areas, allows water to flow through it. Visible from land, the hydro-habitat has an air of monumentality that is supported by its existence as a structure that is immersed but is not fully part of the water. The hydro-habitat consists of three main cores: social, educational and experiential. Exhibition spaces about water and pollution guide visitors from the entrance further into the more experiential and social areas of the project. As one moves into the hydro-habitat, these educational and transitional spaces break into a pool fully immersed in the East River. The walls of this pool filter the East River and create a moment where people can swim, dip their toes in, or just marvel at the East River. A series of contours lead out from the project onto the river and further break down divisions between the two, as it becomes possible to be on the river and experience the river around you.
It consists of three main cores: social, educational and experiential. This pool’s walls filter water directly from the river, and along with a series of contours that lead out from the project, open it up to the water. The hydro-habitat is both pragmatic in its function of filtering water and ambitious in the way it aims to generate a sense of wonder about water. Essentially, it generates a more personal and bi-directional relationship to water through education and experience. The hydro-habitat is inclusive, public and open to all.

Interior of the pool as well as openings to other spaces

The project extends East River Park’s pedestrian access points to the East River through a series of spherical spaces that draw people into the river while educating people about the water, pollution and climate change. It produces a new relationship of New Yorkers to the East River by increasing access to the river and generating a condition in which people can directly engage with the East River and be inside of it. This approach to the river softens the elevated park’s hard edge condition into a more permeable habitat. At these points of existing pedestrian access, gradual contours integrate the project with the island of Manhattan. 
The pier is located on the site of multiple Combined Sewer Overflows into the East River. As such, it is ideally located to carry out its primary function of cleaning the water. In addition to this, it contains educational spaces about pollution and water that transform into a pool fully immersed in the river. It literally teaches about the river, and then becomes one with the river. 

Site plan showing the hydro-habitat in context and analyzing the East River’s pollution

Plan showing program and wall construction

Formally, the hydro-habitat is a series of spheres that float through buoyancy provided by the air within the walls. A shell holding air encloses most of the structure, while one that filters water (and expands and contracts based on the level of water in it) encloses the pool embedded within the structure. The filtered water also supplies drinking and potable water for the pier. Sensors embedded in veins on the shells’ exterior glow different colors based on air and water quality, while the veins provide additional structure.

The walls of the pier would be constructed using ETFE (ethylene tetrafluoroethylene), which is a sustainable alternative to glass. It is a transparent plastic that is resilient, self cleaning, a good insulator, and a lot cheaper to install than glass. ETFE resists pollutants, is long lasting (can maintain its transparency for up to twenty years), and is a low-cost, durable method of construction. A silver frit would be applied to the material to reduce transparency in relevant places. Air bubbles would fill up spaces between ETFE films, and membranes made of steel cables would hold up the structure. 
The walls of the pool would be constructed using a filter, chemicals and ultraviolet tubes. Water passes through a filter made of woven cloth to filter out dirt and debris, then chlorine, sodium and phosphoric acid to kill germs, and finally ultraviolet tubes for further disinfection. Steel cables would also provide some structure to these permeable materials.
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