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MVRDV

Photomontage of the school in an aerial view taken on August 31, 2005, the third day of flooding.

MVRDV HAS TAKEN a drawing made by a girl in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina as the psychological blueprint for a new school to be located in a blighted downtown neighborhood wiped out in the deluge. “She drew this hill with people walking up to the top, escaping from the flood,” the architects write. “It had something religious as well as sentimental to it, but its simplicity was highly appealing. Perhaps we should build and realize her dream.” To this end, they perform a kind of reverse archaeology, embedding an irregular pile of long, rectangular spaces in an artificial landscape. The shapes of the spaces recall the shoebox configuration of the traditional shotgun houses that once filled the quarter, suggesting a metaphorical reuse of detritus. At the same time, they form a reinhabited heap of debris that rises, quite literally in the accompanying images, above the section

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