Waterpod Project

New York, nurse NY

Mary Mattingly


Waterpod Project






Artist Mary Mattingly has initiated the project.

In brief, pharm artist Mary Mattingly is the founder of the Waterpod Project. The Waterpod is a mobile, health sculptural living system built atop an industrial flat-deck barge. It is designed as an artistic and scientific habitat and as a public space to illustrate a future of coping with shifting global climates and ecologies, to research and develop sustainable living systems, and to foster global community-based gathering spaces. Built atop a 99’x31’ flat-deck barge from recycled materials, the Waterpod repurposes the use and meaning of underused spaces, and creates engaging closed food and water ecosystems as well as additional public space for community events and educational purposes. The Waterpod provides space for: (I) community and artistic activity; (II) eco-initiatives including food grown with filtered rainwater; and (III) living space. It provides a model for mobile vessels that can provide relief to cities and countries struck by environmental and political disasters, as well as a model for reshaping suburban landscapes to be a self-sustaining living system. The methods that make up the Waterpod provide people with necessary systems for rotational food supply, seasonal seed collection and soil-renewing compost, portable water, and mobile shelter with minimal upkeep.

Mary Mattingly developed the project “Waterpod Project” with more than 50 people, of which all of them being volunteers.



The project takes shape in multiple locations of the city such as on the nyc waterways, docking in each borough.



The project is focused on the development of community-based programmes and the co-creation of food activities. At the moment, we work internationally.

In particular, we concentrate on education for children, education for adults, community gardens and neighbourhood activities, growing food using permaculture, organic, hydroponic, aquaponic as growing technique(s).




In the development of the project, we encountered implementation problems, such as lack of money, complex bureaucratic procedures.

In order to cope with the problem, we tried to docomparative research about best practices, adaptation and being flexible.

We managed to establish a good relationship with the institutions, securing political support.

While setting up and developing the project, with regard to regulatory barriers, we found it possible to combine architecture, living systems, and public spa.

From the economic point of view, the project is mostly sustainable. In particular, we benefit from public funds from the international level and private funds, such as sponsorship.

In order to develop, we will need new technologies.



In conclusion, open to the public, it visited all five NYC boroughs at ten different piers for two weeks at a time during the summer of 2009, with over 200,000 people visiting the Waterpod from around the world; including school groups, camp groups, and the general public. Through word-of-mouth and no formal advertising, the Waterpod generated media coverage in more than 300 leading global newspapers and magazines, and 12 television networks in the USA and abroad. Our focus is to redesign the Waterpod as a permanent, mobile space that travels to costal cities and towns around the United States and abroad, beginning in 2011. Our team, including a network of engineers, scientists, ecologists, and roboticists will interpret the collected data from the Waterpod’s test run in the New York harbor and augment the systems previously tried to include algae systems, heating and cooling spaces through stored and circulating potable water, new materials that add to the approachability and, in turn, successful outreach of the project.


Posted on 08 May 2011 and filed under content