Camila Huber Horta Barbosa

MLA I AP

High-Low: Blurring the Line in the Semi-Arid

Advised by Pablo Pérez-Ramos

This design thesis proposes the transformation of a highly engineered infrastructure into one that responds to unstable natural forces and become the basis for responsive interventions. This thesis investigates the case of the São Francisco River diversion project in the Semi-Arid of Brazil. The diversion was conceived of as a set of engineered prototypical sections that are deployed along a 700-kilometer path, disregarding the environment it traverses, and dividing the territory as a hard boundary. This condition is exacerbated as the flow of its source river has been diminishing for many years due to anthropic activity and long droughts.

This design proposal has the capacity to inform change at a regional scale. It deploys accupunctural strategies that take the current built structure as a catalyst for low-tech water management interventions. It tests how this infrastructure can behave in different temporal, environmental, and social scenarios while stitching the Caatinga territory back together. The instability of the current climate regime and the demand to preserve and restore ecosystems question the sustainability of such large-scale prototypical infrastructure practice. This thesis provides a framework to intervene upon such projects, rendering them relevant to the current social and environmental era.

Camila Huber Horta Barbosa, MLA I AP. An illustration of a diversion project in the Semi-Arid of Brazil
Camila Huber Horta Barbosa, MLA I AP. Map of east axis of the diversion project showing the intervention frames.
Camila Huber Horta Barbosa, MLA I AP. Perspective of ecological restoration scenario with the 3 intervention typologies.
Camila Huber Horta Barbosa, MLA I AP. Section of a desertification restoration nursery. Small holes on the ground enhance and lengthen moisture retention.
Camila Huber Horta Barbosa, MLA I AP. Section of a desertification restoration dry nursery. Piles of trunks and branches are placed against shading devices that keep piles shaded throughout critical sun exposure timeframes and enhance moisture formation.
Camila Huber Horta Barbosa, MLA I AP. Reservoirs are placed in strategic locations according to drainage patterns. It uses the diversion canal as a damming device and supply the nearby agricultural production.

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