Oysters, in addition to being delicious, were once a vital part of the ecosystem in New York City’s waters, helping to filter pollutants. They can also serve as a crucial natural barrier against storms, which will only get worse in the era of climate change. A new proposal by architects BanG Studio would transform a pavilion for people into a shelter for oysters.
In preindustrial times, the waters surrounding New York overflowed with oysters. But after hundreds of years of pollution, at the dawn of the 21st century, edible oysters were “functionally extinct” along New York shores.
Out of hundreds of designs, BanG Studio’s proposal was chosen as the winner of the City of Dreams Pavilion competition, which asks architects to dream up pavilions that have no negative environmental impact (the competition is put on by FIGMENT NY and several New York architectural groups). The pavilion will be designed and built on Governors Island with the help of the Billion Oyster Project, an environmental restoration effort spearheaded by New York’s Harbor School.
The Billion Oyster Pavilion, as it will be known, will be on New York’s Governors Island for three months starting in June, and it will have two separate functions: one for humans and one for oysters. For humans, the pavilion will provide shade and a resting place, as well as a built-in tunnel for kids to play in. The base holding down the structure is made of cast-concrete forms that will double as reef balls–objects that serve as a replacement home for endangered reef creatures. Over the pavilion will hang playful webs of rebar tubes tied together with colorful marine line, rope that is used to anchor boats to docks. After providing shade for human visitors, these will become “oyster condos” that will be packed with oyster shells collected by the Billion Oyster Project and lowered into the water, creating new reefs.
More than 200,000 people visit Governors Island every summer, so in addition to benefiting for marine life, the project will provide vital education about the need to protect New York’s ecosystem. The project is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, and BanG estimates that the pavilion will be up and running by June.