Kate Orff, a MacArthur Fellow, architect and founder of SCAPE, delivered a talk on urban ecology and how the oyster can be used to purify and revive the New York river system.
Orff begins her talk by explaining how over the last 100 years the landscape of America has been flattened and homogenized. This has resulted in a loss of relationship the people share with the land as urban populations begin to rise while biodiversity plummets.
This lack of biodiversity has clearly caused ecological damage, but Orff then shares her hero and solution to the global climate change war. The eastern oyster may seem like a small and modest creature but its ability to purify water and agglomerate on an incredible scale. Orff then explains New York's history with the oyster and how her company's latest project seeks to return the oyster to its place in New York's ecosystem as a tool to revive the polluted rivers.
Orff then breaks down how her firm has worked to design and create systems for these oysters in ways that the urban population and natural ecosystem can coexist. The oyster production systems and habitations would integrate into public spaces and would open opportunities for employment, education and entertainment. These concepts and design ideas all feed into Orff's concept of Urban Ecology and showcase how easy it could be to harness the oyster to reinvigorate New York's ecosystem.
With her talk on Urban Ecology and the power of the oyster, Kate Orff provides feasible and practical means to revive an ecosystem in a way that benefits all parties.