Our lands were once naturally able to buffer, absorb, and filtrate water from the mountains. These qualities were lost when the Ala Wai Canal was created and Waikīkī became densely urbanized. Up in the mountains, the Makīkī, Mānoa, and Pālolo streams, which feed into Ala Wai, were degraded when neighborhoods were built around them, worsening the systematic health of the watershed and Ala Wai Canal. Trash, debris, petroleum, and sediment plague the waters—often washing up along the Ala Wai Canal after storms. The presence of concrete dominated the landscape, and soon, the health of our land, water and ecosystems were an afterthought—forgotten. The impervious nature of our buildings, roads, and sidewalks deflects much untreated and polluted water into Ala Wai watershed—affecting its water quality and health. These practices now threaten the communities near the watershed. Ala Wai watershed is not equipped for a 100-year, or even a 10-year-flood. A flooding event of any of these magnitudes will be disastrous for the numerous communities near the Ala Wai Watershed—crippling our economy. Titled “The Bridging of Opposites,” our conceptual design proposal focused on the improving waterways that make up the Ala Wai Watershed by remediating water quality and preventing flooding. Our project inspires the communities of O‘ahu to consider the ability of our lands to naturally use water to create healthy and resilient ecosystems. Instead of creating short-sighted measures, we opt for the integrative approach relying on the manipulation of our land and water systems to create places that are environmentally rich, responsible and resilient while accomplishing our socio-economic needs.

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