Chatham Eco-Urban Regeneration Plan
The City of Chatham commissioned a BAM+MSI study for urban and ecological regeneration. Located on the Medway River near the mouth of the Thames River, Chatham once enjoyed an exciting and thriving community life associated with the Rivery economy. Shipbuilding, naval dockyards, and lively piers formed a strong identity for the community. Although the River was highly used in the past, the City faces the current dilemma that it has now turned its backed to the river with its urban edge entirely facing inland. With no particularly exciting features remaining, Chatham needs a focal point to attract new residents and reverse the problem of a declining population.
Although the City was openly considering a new park to be built on the river’s edge as a solution to this urban problem, MSI+BAM research found that this solution would only be addressing one of the symptoms of a much larger problem. Chatham’s source problems are actually fragmentation of its ecosystem and its failure to activate there waterfront through a constructed civic edge. The problem requires thinking at a scale larger than Urbanism; it requires thinking at the Regional scale.
By analyzing the site at a larger, Regional scale, the nature of the river’s hydrology and Chatham’s relationship to it becomes more clear. At the regional scale the mouth of the river consists of zones of mud banks, flats, and oozes that create rich wetlands and important ecological zones. As the river moves further inland, the banks grow firmer, however, sediment and silt carried by the river is deposited throughout, creating smaller mudflats.
A historical analysis of the river morphology shows that in its earliest recorded state, the river charted a more undisciplined course, with finger-like tendrils spreading inland and larger areas that resemble the unspoiled mudflats nearer the mouth of the Thames. With the Industrial Revolution, the river bank became more constructed, minimizing the spread of the inland rivulets. Post-WWII urbanization continued the constructed nature of the river’s edge to its present day state. Currently, the mudflats occurring immediately adjacent to Chatham are littered with shopping cards, discarded washing machines, and used tires. Although the edge of the river is still constructed, its tidal nature and large sediment deposits prevent it from acting as an urban waterway.
BAM+MSI’s Chatham Ecopark creates a solution that is both better for nature and better for people. This Regional-scale design remediates the current fragmentation of the mudflat habitats by creating a larger eco-zone and lines the current downtown with a thriving urban water-edge. By emphasizing the distinction between the eco and urban zones, Chatham’s downtown urban identity can begin to flourish.
The design consists of two large infrastructural moves, the redirection of the river and the construction of an Eco Park. The river is redirected by re-cutting the historical flood path of the river and bypassing the oxbow portion that passes Chatham. Bypassing the oxbow allows Chatham to construct a storm surge barrier which protects their section of the River, which flows along their urban edge, to prevent changes in river level.
This bold move allows for Chatham to develop enormous areas of previously undevelopable riverfront real estate as a constructed urban edge. The river in this area becomes a series of perched tidal basins that are filled and replenished by tidal changes in the river. This effectively creates a fixed water level and allows for adjacent urban programs to enjoy the new waterway as cafes, piers, and walkways, and pedestrian bridges. The former waste sites along the river edge will become premium realestate with the installation of the tide basin infrastructure and the stom surge barrier.
The new Ecopark zone is actually the extension and demarcation of an existing wetland habitat. Wetlands in this environment are quickly regenerative, and therefore excellent material for the construction of ecological zones. This park zone is modified for flood water to spread deep into the parkland, thereby offsetting any of the floodplain lost as the river bypasses the new urban oxbow. The Eco park features a boardwalk eco-trail that passes through the islands of the park inviting visitors on an educational and healthy walk among the natural wetland habitat.
The downtown area of Chatham also enjoys a promenade boardwalk which links the urban edge with the ecopark to the North and creates a 1.6 mile historical loop connecting Chatham’s major historical sites. This urban promenade is bisected by an allee of trees marching down from the existing Urban Park and connecting the new river edge with the existing historical park.
Rethinking Chatham’s condition at a Regional scale reveals fundamental issues which can be resolved to conceptually rebalance both its urban and ecological environments. Rather than simply address Urbanism, this Regional thinking ultimately create a better setting both for nature and for man. Although a very bold idea, the hydrological redesign of the river also conceptually balances itself. The fragmented ecological wetland areas are redistributed in a larger ecozone, and flood plain area as the river is redirected is redistributed within the quickly regenerating wetland zones.
This conceptual Regional scale plan is currently under study by the City of Chatham. (This project completed by BAM in the office of Martha Schwartz, Inc.)
Project Facts Client: City of Chatham Hydrological Engineer: Moffet and Nichols
为振兴城市和恢复生态，查塔姆市委托BAM研究出一个解决方案。依托泰晤士河（the Thames River）附近的梅德韦河(the Medway River)优势，查塔姆市曾充分发展沿河经济，城市因而也一度兴旺、繁荣。查市的民用造船厂、海军造船厂以及繁忙的码头曾使其声名远震。尽管河流在过去高度利用，但现在却要背离河流，而且城市边缘已完全面对内陆，现在查市正面临两难困境。考虑到城市已没有什么吸引人的亮点，查市现在就急需一个焦点来吸引新居民，解决城市人口下降问题。
项目有关方面： 客户：英国查塔姆市(Town of Chatham) 水文工程师：莫菲特和尼科尔斯公司（Moffet and Nichols）■