Paul Lukez Architecture Wins WAFX Prize at The World Architecture Festival

The inaugural WAFX prize at the World Architecture Festival has been awarded to Paul Lukez Architecture for a future urban infrastructure project titled “The Hydroelectric Canal.” The project addresses issues of rising sea levels and climate change by developing an environmentally resilient self-sustaining community.

Paul Lukez Architecture (PLA) an architecture firm headquartered in Somerville, MA, has been awarded the inaugural WAFX prize at the World Architecture Festival in Berlin. The award, which recognizes future projects that identify key challenges architects will need to address over the next 10 years, was presented for a project titled “The Hydroelectric Canal” and received by the firm’s principal, Paul Lukez. The Hydroelectric Canal won both the Climate, Energy & Carbon category and the Overall WAFX Prize in a contest that included nearly 1000 entries.

Drawing its inspiration from a hydropower generation method used in Boston’s Mill Creek area in the 1640s, The Hydroelectric Canal proposes cutting a channel through Columbia Point in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston to connect the northern Old Harbor with the southern Savin Hill Cove. The new Morrissey Channel would capture rising sea levels and tidal changes to generate hydroelectric energy through cutting-edge turbine technologies. The result would be an ecologically sustainable urban model powered by clean energy that would feature lively public spaces and restored coastal ecosystems.

“Our goal in developing this project is to harness hydropower in low-lying urban areas while shaping resilient, self-sustaining communities,” Lukez said upon receiving the award. “The damage sustained by coastal communities during the recent hurricane season brings home the need to develop urban centers that can withstand the effects of climate change. The Hydroelectric Canal would not only benefit Boston, but could be duplicated in other low-lying communities around the country and the world.”

The proposed project suggests an array of integrated landscaping, ecological restoration, urban development and financing strategies, including public-private partnerships, that would create an energy-producing, amenity-laden infrastructure. In choosing The Hydroelectric Canal as the overall WAFX Prize winner, the festival’s directors noted “its innovative approach to shaping economic and environmentally resilient self-sustaining communities.”

“PLA’s vision is to develop urban communities that can withstand the forces of climate change and make use of natural, reusable resources,” Lukez said. “We must work together to embrace clean energy and preserve our ecosystems while developing appealing human environments for urban dwellers.”

In addition to Paul Lukez Architecture, the project team included: 

  •     Landscape architects (C2 Studio)
  •     Coastal ecologist (Prof. Anamarija Frankic)
  •     Civil engineers (ARUP)
  •     Structural engineers (Simpson Gumpertz & Heger)
  •     Financial consultants (Barnraisers and PM&C)
  •     Experts in hydropower and energy technologies (Verdant Power and MJ2 Technologies).

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