Author: Alexandra Lyn

Building up a Mound: Elevating Land, Spirit, and People in New Orleans

Studio: ARCU 4304 – Urbanism Studio 4

Professors: Aron Chang and Ana Orosco

Year: Winter 2021

Project Description

In a future where the river is unbound, levees de-engineered, and water is allowed to flow freely across New Orleans, its landscape will take on new textures, wetness, heights and meaning. As people re-settle around the city and across new floodplains, many homes and key landmarks that are the foundation of New Orleans culture and history will be re-grounded by the forces of the river. This project proposes to commemorate significant places to a higher visible ground through the process of mound building. Indigenous communities across Louisiana have built mounds for centuries as sites of burial, inhabitance, reverence, public gathering, and navigation. New mounds will serve as a space of celebration, contemplation, and connection of past culture to new communities — composed of remnants of deconstruction, pieces of new home grounds, organic materials and sediment of the Mississippi river. In the way that the mound compounds on itself, layering earth,
destruction, erosion, and history, it builds the coveted high-ground higher and higher — elevating the community with a sense of vision, safety, spirituality. Mound building can serve as a tool of remembering our past in order to layer a rich future, offering reparations to those relegated to marshy low ground, and creating a space and process of healing through indigenous knowledge as New Orleans undergoes dramatic changes.