Various LA River revitalization projects are trying to turn this corridor into what we conventionally think a river is supposed to be, with plenty of green and natural activities to go around.
But the LA River is a mammoth concrete creature. The water in the LA River is mostly industrial and residential discharge. The sewage from San Fernando Valley residents goes through a series of holding tanks, digesters, filters, and sanitizers at the Tillman Plant. The treated water is poured into the river at a rate of 23 million gallons a day. The water is safe from contact but not safe to drink.
The LA River is too far removed from natural qualities for restoration or revitalization in the traditional sense. Instead, let’s rethink what a river could be with industrial programs and innovative technologies.
There is another corridor that the LA River could learn from and it runs roughly parallel to the river: the Alameda Corridor.
The Alameda Corridor is a subterranean railway corridor moving supplies to and from the Port of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the busiest ports in the country and the 3rd busiest in the world.
The Alameda Corridor is highly functional. The LA River can be programmed to support the function of the Alameda Corridor or interface with the Corridor.
We can embed the river with programmable matter, such as 4D printed structures, that react to water and when flooded, changes the river’s program. The programs can range from recreational to industrial. They can range from moving goods to moving people. They can let water flow or store water for treatment and reuse. They can become commercial, office, or residential space the closer it gets to downtown and establish a techno-utopia on the river. The water itself can be designed as smart fluids that change their viscosity and move based on magnetism for further flexibility.