motus et re-creation: Movement and re-creation on accotink creek

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Virginia Tech


Speed has long been equated with "progress". The Romans' paved roads begot much of this concept, allowing faster travel that improved communication, commerce, and enabled control over vast territories. Additionally paved surfaces whisked insect-breeding water away from homes, improving the health of those in town. Today, part-and-parcel of the definition of the developed world are tremendous amounts of solid surfaces, mostly asphalt and concrete, to move mechanized devices and water quickly. Even the shoes we wear could be seen as complementary technological devices, cushioning our feet to allow us to barrel forward more quickly along firm, manmade foundations. But the push towards this progress has had destructive consequences on our environment, including, but not limited to, our stream valleys.

Often abutting intense, impervious development, the stream valley watersheds have morphed from spongy spines dense with aquatic life to de-facto storm sewers, with thick foliage merely masking severe erosion and paltry ecosystems. Quite simply, the speed at which the water is pushed down the ever-narrowed corridors as paved development encroaches, coupled with pollution from this fast runoff, renders the former fish streams dead.

The recent advent of nature trails (following a mix of old hunting paths and former gristmill horse-cart ways), along unbuildable flood plains has exposed this problem in the Accotink stream valley in Northern Virginia. This thesis addresses the topic of water runoff of the Accotink stream valley and trail network. After analyzing and studying the area as a whole, the thesis focused on two scales: the larger scale of Fairfax Circle in Fairfax City in suburban Northern Virginia and a piece of this area -- a small section that acts as a threshold from urban village to natural park/trail/creek bed. This smaller section is also along the most eroded section of the Accotink Creek. At the "master plan" scale, the thesis transforms Fairfax Circle to a "village" using environmental remediation design principals to repair and regenerate this environmentally-degraded area. At the architectural scale, the thesis examines the site through the lens of the regional trail network along the stream valleys and the potential urban village at Fairfax Circle to design a trail-stop fitness center that straddles the break between conceptual urban space and repaired, stormwater-soaking stream valley.



watershed, speed, community, connectivity, cross county trail