A Heart for Kapālama: Transforming Kapālama Canal into an Urban Catalyst Through Renaturation
A Heart for Kapālama: Transforming Kapālama Canal into an Urban Catalyst Through Renaturation and Remediation
Over the last two centuries, Kapālama has undergone dramatic transformations. It was once a floodplain adorned with lo‘i (Taro) and fish ponds (DTL). Today, Kapālama is an industrial center, home to the working class. Originally, the canal was conceived and built in 1939 as a flood prevention measure; the stream’s periodic flooding became increasingly problematic as the population in the area grew denser (WCIT). Initially, the water quality was relatively clean as residents would regularly access the water to swim and fish (DTL). As industrial use became more prominent, water quality began to plummet, and the canal became a hazard and gave rise to a negative perception in the community. Though the canal has enabled industrial, commercial, and residential development in the Kapālama area, water has been an afterthought, entirely neglected throughout the years. The canal was designed, primarily to move water as quickly as possible without attention to environment and aesthetics. Over the years, the canal has fallen to neglect, leading to stream bank erosion and, in turn, poor water quality. The water quality was exacerbated when sewage was diverted into the canal to alleviate infrastructure overloads. In “A Heart for Kapālama,” I propose a beautification and revitalization of the canal and the area surrounding it, making it a more welcoming, uplifting and livable neighborhood. I see the canal as an urban catalyst that is capable of uniting the community. Thus far, most parks on the island are underutilized, not provocative, nor environmentally responsible. Most cases appear as a shallow and generic patch of grass occasionally shaded by just a few trees. The goal of my proposal was to create a vision which establishes a precedent of a true “green” gathering place in O‘ahu by honoring the responsibility to land and water, and using natural elements and resources in tandem to grow and transform the community.
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