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Seven Zany Ideas for a (Swimmable!) Gowanus Canal

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Urban design advocacy group Gowanus By Design hosted a competition for architects and students and received in return 150 renderings depicting fanciful visions for how to cope with the perennially polluted canal. Yesterday the organization announced winners in three categories: urban ecology, architectural design, and community programming. GbD set out some mandates for entries: they had to include a recreational pool (fun!), and then had to devise a system by which storm runoff could be diverted from the canal and retained to reduce contamination (um, necessary). Though these will probably never, ever get built?given the decidedly less creative $500 million, decade-long cleanup project by the EPA currently underway?the winners had some pretty zany ideas (none featuring human hair, alas) for how to spiff up the blighted area around the Gowanus Canal, from a rooftop meadow to a massive zig zag-shaped elevated swimming hole (above).

An honorable mention in the urban ecology category, "Pilot Projects" by Scott Francisco, James Wilson, Drew Powers of New York includes a rooftop meadow, an ice rink, space for a market, solar panels and a skate park.

Another honorable mention in the same category, Bhujon Kang and Andre Bighorse of Phoenix picture an "Urban Playground" with a swimming pool and dance studio in tiers, as well as a jogging track with greenery for lounging in the middle (not pictured).

An honorable mention in architectural design went to student Shu Kuei Hsu of Seattle, Washington, who included a community garden and basketball courts. Plus, he placed his swimming pool inside an innovative building with an exterior sort of like Swiss cheese.

Ana Morcillo Pallares and Jonathan Rule of Murcia, Spain finished second in the community programming category. This design got us super psyched?there are fountains you can play in! (Listen, they're not just for kids.)

Last but not least, community program honorable mention winner Joseph Barrick, a student form Washington, D.C., envisions honest-to-goodness wetlands, with a contemporary structure housing recreational facilities perched above it.

Back to the architectural design category, where students Andrea Deberry and Michele Niaki of Urbana-Champaign, Illinois, stacked architectural elements, included an elaborate filtration system for dirty water and added a community garden that would actually yield produce.

?All photos from Gowanus by Design via Bustler
·Gowanus by Design's Water Works Competition Rules
·Gowanus by Design: Water Works Competition Winners [Bustler, via Archinect]
·Curbed Gowanus Canal coverage
·Curbed Gowanus coverage