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Water colour

By Ruth Slavid
Sadly, Diana Balmori died just before this piece was published.
This drawing by Diana Balmori of New York based Balmori Associates is both a seductive image and an illustration of a fascinating piece of work. Called GrowOnUs, it is special partly because it is extraordinarily hands on – the practice not only designed but also built it – and partly because it is experimental and an attempt to solve a really pressing problem. 

The scheme was developed for the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, one of the most polluted stretches of water in the United States. The floating culverts that can be seen in the images are used for phytoremediation, planted with a range of plants that are aimed at cleaning up the water as well as desalinating it.

The plants are being monitored in association with New York Botanical Garden to see which will thrive and also if it is possible to grow ‘construction crops’ such as hemp and bamboo. The idea is that the learning from this project, by its nature small-scale, could be rolled out to other filthy stretches of water to make them not only cleaner but also productive. 

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