January 10, 2014
by Anna Huntington, community arts coordinator
Yuki recently finished the fabrication phase of a public art project for Venice Island along the Schuylkill River in Manayunk, Penn., outside of Philadelphia. His work is part of a river reclamation project that includes a public park, recreational facility and water treatment plant. The theme of Yuki's art work for the project based on river water, and the region's flora and fauna.
The artist sent the following narrative describing the reclamation project , as well as some photos of the benches he created for the park. Yuki said there are a few more series of stone elements for the project including graphic work on pavers, and will send more photos later. You can see more photos here.
Venice Island is the legacy of 19th century industrial urbanization. In 1819, a three-mile long sliver of schist was sliced away from the village of Manyunk by a narrow canal that supplied access and power to textile mills perched on the Island. Its factories long gone, the five-acre site’s fortuitous location at the base of Manyunk’s rocky hills led the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) to select the Island for the installation of a subsurface Combined Sewer Overflow Tank. The tank will incept nearly 4 million gallons of stormwater during rain events, preventing treatment facilities downstream from releasing untreated wastewater in to the Schuylkill River.
As part of its investment in the community, PWD committed to a full-scale reconstruction of the site’s parking and recreation facilities. During a yearlong master planning process, PWD worked with the neighborhood to develop a plan that balances basketball courts with children’s gardens, a performing arts center with a pump house, parking with a restored riverbank.
The site uses the best in sustainable stormwater management, ecological design and restoration to shape spaces providing a much-needed public place in the heart of Manayunk. These spaces reflect the Island’s industrial heritage, local building techniques and the vibrant natural history along the Schuylkill River, all while meeting the rigorous challenges of creating a safe, city park in the floodway. The park seeks the poetic potential found at the intersection of natural processes and urban infrastructure, at the place where past and future cities meet.