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Waterpod is a Floating Green Home in NYC

ONE afternoon last week, Mary Mattingly, a 30-year-old sculptor and photographer who has been living in a two-bedroom walk-up in Queens, gave a reporter a tour of her new home, a 30-by-100-foot barge moored at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

"This is the living quarters," Ms. Mattingly said, standing on deck and pointing to a half-built shed made of scrap wood. "And over here," she continued, walking toward an area enclosed by an iron fence, "is where the greenhouse will be."

A few days earlier, a 25-foot tower had been welded to the barge to anchor a windmill, and Ms. Mattingly was anticipating delivery of a chicken coop to house the egg-producing flock that soon will be in residence. Nearby, two men in hard hats were sawing lumber, while a film crew from Vancouver recorded the process for a possible documentary.

The presence of the film crew, along with Ms. Mattingly's narration, gave the scene the appearance of a very weird episode of "This Old House." In fact, it was the final, frantic construction phase of the Waterpod, an independent project Ms. Mattingly dreamed up three years ago to explore the possibility of creating a self-sufficient community on the water - a kind of aquatic version of the Biosphere 2 complex built in the Arizona desert in the 1980s - that might offer an alternative to living on land in the future, if "our resources on land grow scarcer and sea levels rise," she said.

Next week, if construction is completed on schedule - something that seems in question, given how much work is left - she and three other artists will begin living on the barge for five months, docking at various locations in the five boroughs, where it will be open to the public, beginning with South Street Seaport.

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