Ecotourism in vacationland: shoreline development and economic inclusion on the Southern Maine coastline
Date of Award
Master of Architecture (MArch)
The tourist economy in Maine, while profitable, has been a catalyst for the removal of local communities on the coast through the privatization of ecosystem services. Inclusive master planning that reconnects Maine’s coastline to its upland areas in the southern beach region will restore a lost local and working class identity. This proposal enables year-round and flexible programming and stewardship of the natural environment, and challenges the current model of commodification of a landscape and its people. Furthermore, celebration of the right of way to ecological systems and development of supporting markets for both the working and playing communities of the vacation landscape benefits the modernization of the Maine identity and diversification of its labor force. Maine’s economy in the past relied heavily on timber harvest and manufacturing for paper, an industry that existed within the Arcadian image. In the late-1970’s Maine pivoted toward a tourism, hospitality and real estate centric system.;An 11.5 billion dollar industry that operates only six months out of the year. As a result Maine density has moved to an aging and unaffordable southern coastlines with relatively little economic activity generated in the center or northern areas of the state. Out-of-state ownership has led to part-time communities and the polarization of the working and leisure populations. Southern Coastal towns like York, Kennebunk, and Ogunquit are unable to execute comprehensive master planning that seeks to stabilize yearround communities in the face of annual winter abandonment. The beach community of Wells is one such center for tourism where coexistence between the two communities’ use of the surrounding natural and built environments would create a model of holism in a seasonal city typology.
Tertiary strategies that work in tandem with architectural intervention to unbind the privatization of public resources are coastal devaluation models, creation of conservation easements, and mixed use zoning. Additionally, coastal categorization as vulnerable to climate change and past developmental negligence limit the use of a landscape and should be challenged by building more responsibility and with appropriate materiality. The architect’s role in the seasonal city is to facilitate the relationship between the people who use the built environment and instances of shared experience to nature for all. The institution of perpendicular community programming repairs the delamination of the Maine coastline and restoration of agency on the shore for both the tourists and the working class.
Wilcox, Quinn Christopher, "Ecotourism in vacationland: shoreline development and economic inclusion on the Southern Maine coastline" (2021). Masters Theses. 664.
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View exhibition online: Quinn Christopher Wilcox, Ecotourism in Vacationland : Shoreline Development & Economic Inclusion on the Southern Maine Coastline