In my Biomimicry course at SCAD, we had the pleasure of working with a local biologist: Cathy Sakas (who worked for NOAA and has co-founded a number of ocean preservation organizations). Together, we utilized the ‘Biology to Design’ process crafted by Biomimicry 3.8. We went on multiple field expiditions, including to Wassaw barrier island off coastal Georgia and the Altamaha River (inland Georgia) in search of natural inspiration for an environmental design problem. This project enabled me to become certified in the Basics of Biomimicry for Biology to Design from Biomimicry 3.8.

Giant Salvinia, Photo credit: Plant Sam

With Cathy’s guidance, my team became focused on the idea of sea level rise, increased storms, and the grave effects on Savannah, GA’s community. Particularly, we were concerned about food sources during hurricanes for low income residents that cannot evacuate. Savannah also has many food deserts, and given its flat geography will be inundated by sea level rise. Additionally, we were inspired by the resilience and strategies of what has become an invasive plant in the Southern US: Giant Salvinia. Using the positive aspects of the plant’s strategies: flotation and rapid reproduction started designing for the year 2075 when water will be flooding many parts of the city. Lanvia is a floating garden that would provide food year round and resilient resource during natural disasters.

The floating garden is designed to be an element of social infrastructure, providing a flexible community space, food year round to residents in the neighborhood where it is located, and 72 hours worth of produce after a disaster. The community interaction fostered here would build social relationships and resilience for Savannah Residents. Floating gardens are idea for Savannah given the land lost from sea level rise and historic roofs not being able to carry the weight of a community garden.

The garden’s barges are made from recycled litter plastic and locally sourced pine wood. They are designed for easy assembly, repair, and disassembly. The barges also have barrels underneath that mimic Salvinia’s flotation technique of capturing air in many pockets (leaf hairs) to keep the barge afloat. Other barrels act as rain water collection cisterns and the canopy has solar panels to keep the garden as closed loop as possible with resource usage. The hoop houses have ventilation for hot summers

The design is meant to be easily scale to population size. As more areas of Savannah (and other cities) flood with sea level rise, there will be more space and need for Lanvia Gardens.

To see our full process book, click below.

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