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2013 Award of Excellence - aquiPROJECT
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Project Category: Student - Research and Communications – Undergraduate Level 

Project Name: aquiPROJECT 

Student: Tracy Wyman, University of Florida

Length of Design Effort & Date of Completion:  16 Weeks (1 Semester), April 26, 2013 


Faculty Advisor: Dr. Mary Padua, ASLA, CLARB, RLA


Research based entries should address how the research is framed; the context and resources of the study; the methods of inquiry; the results of investigation; and the lesson value of the research conclusions to the field at large. Include a brief description of the problem researched, relationships investigated, method of inquiry used, results of research (which may refer to statistical or other analysis that can be included under "Images” in the binder), conclusions concerning the significance of the results, comparisons with past research, applicability to landscape architecture practice, and the need for new or further research. 

Communication based entries should address the effectiveness of message presentation, innovation in approach or delivery, and value to the intended audience. Include description of the intended purpose, audience, message(s), impact and effectiveness, distribution method, and other issues as appropriate. 

In both instances, pay particular attention to describing the role of the landscape architecture student(s); how landscape architecture contributed to the success of the project; and in the case of interdisciplinary teams, what the landscape architecture student(s) learned from the other field(s) of study, and vice versa.

The Floridan Aquifer is the natural underground water system Floridians rely upon for their fresh water supply, yet these resources are being depleted by overconsumption and policy which allows exorbitant groundwater pumping.  The degradation of these natural systems is evident in the 1000 freshwater springs throughout Florida which are rapidly declining in terms of water quality, clarity and flow.  While advocacy groups are working to affect policy change, there remains the perpetual need to internalize values at the individual level regarding natural water resource conservation.

The reality of the problem of declining water quality and levels is exposed at White Springs, Florida, where the sulfur spring which discharged 35 million gallons per day quit flowing over 30 years ago due to consumptive-use permits issued for a nearby phosphate mine for 40 million gallons per day.  All that remains today is a springhouse which surrounds the dry limestone formation that was once a spring, standing quietly alongside the river as a historical marker of days long ago when the spring's healing waters drew tourists from around the region.

After years of rebuilding the tourist venue for the town, White Springs is a hub for nature-based tourism amidst Florida's folk culture, drawing upwards of 120,000 tourists to the rural town annually for biking, hiking, wildlife observation, camping, the annual Florida Folk Festival and much more.  Still, there is little reason to explore the Spring House which sits unassumingly in a valley almost out of view from the road.  For those who do explore there is not enough information presented to understand the magnitude of the loss, or grasp the realization that human policies and behaviors are contributing to the decline of springs all over Florida and adversely impacting the aquifer system.  The visual significance at White Springs is an opportunity for individuals to see and understand the magnitude of the wide-spread problem. 

Community-based art is the method used in this project to actively engage participants in the process of creating while educating them about the problem. Community-based art is art created with the purpose of engaging community into a larger dialogue, with a purpose of generating positive change.  Creative self-expression takes place in the process of making as both mind and body are engaged in a reciprocal, tactile and sensory process— embedding an understanding of  material, object or land and our relationship to these.  This type of experience, applied toward protecting our natural water resources can influence deep-seated values, offering a more complete solution toward long-term sustainability.

By engaging and investing in this place, participants across 18 counties can begin to understand the system that flows beneath all Floridans.  The people of White Springs understand their relationship with, dependency on, and value of their long-defunct spring.  This design intentionally reaches out beyond White Springs, to embed an understanding of the issues surrounding our natural water resources and our human imprint, cultivating an understanding of the land at this place.

The aquiPROJECT is a design for an expanding art installation along the Suwannee River at White Springs, Florida, compelling users to the riverfront through an interpretive art walk and inviting regional participation through art/ecoliteracy workshops.  A theme of water both honors the town’s rich history of gathering around the now defunct spring, and is relevant today as a personally meaningful and creative educational tool with the goal of raisin awareness for water resource conservation.

Credits:

Participants of the Piloted "Art Learning Module”:  Kate Deledda, Beth, Max Deledda, Aaron, Hannah Plate, John-Michael Simpson, Sara Kovachich, Elliott Van Mitchell, Em, Mercurious, Jayne Bran, Libby Wyman, Rita Barker, Alex and Jacob 

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