Category: Student - Open
Space - Graduate Level
Project Name: Serenity in
Cejas - Florida International University
Design Effort & Date of Completion: Spring 2010
Rovira - Marta Canavés
The area known as the "Lake Belt Region” in South
Florida appears as a series of immense pools clearly identifiable from vehicular
roadways like Florida’s Turnpike, airplanes and through satellite imagery. These
large water bodies, notable for their bright blue-green color and orthogonal
geometry are the byproduct of limestone mining operations in South Florida.
This region currently serves as a barrier to one of our world’s most diverse ecosystems,
the Everglades, from an encroaching Urban Development Boundary line.
These water bodies (scars) left behind by the demands
of urban development are what I intend to expose and reassess with this design.
Considering the significance of the site’s existing scars, it possesses no
memoir of a healing process. The intensions for Serenity are to create fresh
wounds by carving at the sites existing scars and provide infrastructure for an
environmental populace. These fresh wounds will possess the innate qualities
necessary to support the basic demands and functions of a pre-existing environment,
which will further assist with the sites therapeutic process of forming new
For over a century this region has been degraded from
its natural ecological function, commencing with the implementation of
nonnative trees, used to drain the region for developable land. Urban sprawl
along with the ever-present migrating populace followed and solidified the
mining industry’s significance while neglecting to adhere to the consequences a
degraded portion of the everglades can have on natural systems.
Today, the Lake
Belt currently consists of numerous mining outfits that have devoid the natural
landscape of its rich biodiversity by dramatically altering its physical
condition. A landscape which otherwise demands water depths of 1’ to 3’ to
allow native habitats to prosper, now encompasses a series of quarried lakes
occupying an area that is approximately 56 square miles, with depths ranging up
The sites geographical location is Lake #3 at CEMEX
FEC Quarry and Miami Cement Plant, with coordinates’: 25°53’40.67” N |
80°23’22.13” W. The goal at the east bank of Lake #3 was to convey research and
restoration to the public by providing opportunities to learn about the native
wildlife and vegetation of the area while conveying the unique qualities of the
adjacent mining facility. The designed site includes a residence for a
caretaker and two off-the-grid educational facilities. One of these
off-the-grid facilities will be an accepted submission for the Solar Decathlon
Vantage points from two major roads (Florida Turnpike 821 and
US 27) located adjacent to the site at its intersection and incoming traffic
toward the facility were important considerations in establishing clear
visibility of this restoration effort.
The site’s design adheres to the goals and intensions
of the client that not only desired a designed restoration effort, but also
required that the site educated all types of visitors of the relationship their
mining operation has with their urban environments. This design accomplishes
this by taking you on a mining journey unique in experience and celebrating
their processes on the site.
A portion of the site is mined further in order to
create a similar experience of the adjacent mining operation that includes a
filtering procedure which process the limerock according to quality and size.
The difference lies in the scale of the sites operation where the intention is
to filter people, not rock, while providing for the appropriate environmental
The proper infrastructure needed to support the basic
demands and functions of a pre-existing environmental condition is also
required and is found within the filtering system. Bridging, up to 60’, will
circumvent the visitor through and around the mined-cone-shaped limerock so the
visitor can understand the scale of a mining operation while also being carried
over the forming scars designed to mimic the Everglade Slough condition throughout
the southern to center half of the site.
As the infrastructure bleeds into the
northern portion of the site the bridging tapers to ground level where the
visitor is now surrounded by the naturally propagated and restored portion of
the site. To assist with propagating the site, silhouetted cubes designed to
mimic skyscrapers and urban domiciles will now provide places of refuge for a
These silhouettes traverse the center portion of the site
acting as the stitching between the mined and the natural, while supporting the
aforementioned bridging and then extending over and into the lakes depths.
Although the lake has profound depths a littoral shelf protruding out form the
sites edge will provide the required depth to foster natural vegetative growth
and wildlife communities in those areas.
Serenity can cater to visitors by providing a series
of activities that will enable the visitor to engage the site in an array of
ways. Educational facilities can educate on the importance of restoration
efforts, kayaks will provide water access and hiking paths transverse the
entire site, which together, communicates a narrative of an ecological mining
FEC Quarries and Miami Cement Plant administrators and employees for site visit
excursions and providing data specific material to assist with the project.