Shauna Strubinger

Document Type





Spring 5-2016


Stan Allen, mat building, architecture, climate change, infrastructure, community, fish market, sea level, restoration




Architectural History and Criticism | Architectural Technology | Cultural Resource Management and Policy Analysis | Environmental Design | Landscape Architecture | Urban, Community and Regional Planning


The inevitable truth of climate change has placed coastal cities at great risk. Past natural disasters in the United States such as Hurricane Sandy and Katrina, displaced many people because these communities’ only protection was their failed infrastructure.1 Although hard and soft infrastructure strategies have addressed the rising sea level, architecture at the building scale creates static surfaces and divisions that are slow to adapt to flooding and leave little to no room for the ambiguity of tidal flooding and storm surge. Though numerous areas are at risk of sea level rise across the globe, the Chesapeake Bay area is one of the areas to face the highest risk in the Americas with several growing urban metropolis and an expansive estuarine environment.2 This thesis responds to the current threat of sea level rise on coastal population cities and proposes to create an absorbent condition through spatial repetition of the module that adapts to the local conditions.

According to architect and theorist Stan Allen, field conditions, specifically “mats”, allow for ambiguity and uncertainty of a space.3 This thesis seeks to re-evaluate Allen’s Thick 2D as a resilient, absorbent architecture by speculating the mat building as a landscape condition at the infrastructural scale, while further examining the thickened surface at the edge between land and water at the architectural scale. As a thickened surface, a pier prototype would function as a resilient and adaptable breakwater. The pier consists of a repetitive module that can be expanded, widened, shortened, and based on the topographic and programmatic constraints of each site.

In order to allow for the pier to evolve over time, the surface consists of an altered breakwater unit to create a structural module. By observing the state of the Chesapeake Bay, the seed buoy will provide the greatest benefit as a soft material device for the pier by improving the ecology of the bay and allowing for wave attenuation. The materiality of the module can be both soft and hard based on the edge of the specific deployment of the infrastructure. This thesis proposes a network of the fisheries and fish markets on the Chesapeake Bay that respond to the fluctuations of sea level rise and storm surge and the stages of ecological restoration.


local input

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.