Friday, February 15, 2008

There's lakes, and then there's "lakes"...

A recent Scripps Institution of Oceanography/UC San Diego article about the possible drying of of "Lake" Mead above the Hoover Dam had me curious about the fate of Arizona and the rest of the southwest, but mainly it got me thinking again about what bodies of water we call "lakes". We need some better word that describes large manmade, reservoirs and other engineered water features that, generally speaking, have ecologically dead (if existent) shorelines. This characteristic is a shame, as the wetland transitions between land and water that should exist are very richly diverse in terms of ecology. Sometimes these "lakes" are not as arid or artificial looking as Lake Mead or Lake Powell, but they never look quite right. Lake Merritt, in Oakland, CA, for example, has a hard-edge shoreline that just drops off into the water.
There's one little swatch of beach that I can recall around the mile plus perimeter, and then there's the backflow dam to prevent tidal flux from affecting the water level too much and to let stormwater push its way out.

Anyhow, I don't know these constructed Fake-Lakes, Flakes, etc. should be called, but don't try and confuse people into thinking they're lake ecologies because you can drive a jetski in them. We shouldn't take for granted such large engineering feats, or else we start to forget about them as artificial, and the next thing you know we assume the water will always be there. Then you wake up one day and the "Lake" is dry.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Dr. Eugene Tsui's Eighth Wonder of the World

A co-worker of mine used to work at Eugene Tsui's office, which is in Emeryville, CA. Judging from the text on the Tsui Design & Research website, Tsui is definitely a character, and it's hard for me to tell if there's any validity in some of his ideas because that constructed persona gets in the way. Anyhow, when he's not playing flamenco guitar, winning senior gymnastics medals, and designing sci-fi clothing, this renaissance man is developing biomorphic architecture. The planning project that caught my eye is for a bridge spanning across the Strait of Gibralter. Here's an aerial view of a model of what it would look like:

The spans are actually underwater, arched tunnels linked by a floating island in the middle. Here's a section view:

These fish-shaped tunnels would not only have car lanes and train tracks but linear parks for people to move through, complete with trees, pools, waterfalls, and areas for music and dance performances. The whole project would, according to Dr. Tsui, double Spain's tourists, increase Morocco's by 2600% and would "no doubt be the Eighth Wonder of the World".