In an effort to foster the creative debate on urban recovery after Super Storm Sandy, Architects, Theoreticians, and students from three disciplines (architecture, landscape architecture, and urban planning) gathered in EXPO Colony for a 2-weeks-workshop to generate ideas regarding the rebuilding of the Rockaway’s devastated waterfront and to rethink its social spaces. Projects focused on: micro-urbanistic interventions in situ and actions to engage the local community; reflections on new uses of public space; and ideas for alternative housing models, the protection of the shoreline, critical ecology, and developments for archipelagos and resilient cities. The results of the workshop /proposals and designs were presented in a public event at the Colony at MoMA PS1 on August 15, 2013.
Brennan Baxley: Fresh Lungs
With the powerful effects of hurricanes, coastal cities rely more heavily on forms of resilience and protection. Environmental adaptation addresses these, by allowing natural disasters and regular patterns of occurring systems to define the form of the coastal front.. New fleshy surfaces of the beach perform by enlarging, protecting the coastal front of the Rockaways. These expansive membranes inflate with water providing a firm cushion; the elements are strengthened by inundation, the landscapes absorbs them. Strategically layered and executed, the membranes form a quilt across the edge. Dualistically, each patch will fill with the ocean water to form a wave break and a temporary community space. Enclaves will be made and defending barriers will be forced. Events along the beach will be surrounded by the engorged, while during high intensity natural events, these will aid in practical cushion and skin for the peninsula. The peninsula is now a surviving a palimpsest of movement: catalysts of living. The coastline is a breathing, defensive dynamic surface readjusting to the impending changes growing with the tides. The Rockaways actively and expressively redefine, adapting to rising currents, activating the stale edges of the ocean and the city.The powerful lungs of the Rockaways remain in fragments. The spirit of an exuberant location breathes lightly. Battered and discarded, the coastal ecotone of the Rockaways today remains inactive. Modern, static structures and relics of concrete keep the city stern and the spaces a skeleton of failure. New structures and landscapes must absorb and react: become resilient to prevent the disappearance of the coast.
Karl Pops: The Rocknails
This proposal pierces nails through the Rockaway Peninsula, creating channels that serve a dual function. Firstly, they extend the waterfront to the inner parts of the peninsula, bringing the sea air to areas currently suffocating from the lack of open views. Creating channels through the backyards of residential houses would abolish fences while retaining the desired boundary between neighbors. At the same time, that boundary would be recognized as a shared asset that satisfies the fetish of having a pool. Secondly, the channels serve as containers that receive the water during floods, thus sparing water-sensitive habitats. The excavation of the channels will simultaneously raise adjacent houses to elevated banks, thereby reducing the risk of flood damage. The edges defining the void sometimes continue into the ocean and point towards the horizon. They serve as solids that can be walked on and anchored to, in the form of a pier, jetty, wave-breaker or a dock. In a soft enough medium, the nail has the possibility of slight movement. Various forces can cause the nail to pivot or bend, breaking the linearity of the void and blurring the line between trace and non-trace. This dynamic can be interpreted in the context of the Rockaways as a channel that has been pierced through the dense residential fabric: over time its boundaries start to move, expand and contract based on people’s needs and desires. Rockaway residents would participate in the formation of the banks, thereby allowing for both individual expression and collective creativity. The bank of the channel becomes fertile ground for social activities, and inevitably the separation between the planned and evolved, private and public space becomes ambiguous.
Patricia Semmler: Architecture of Porosity
Shells roll in the sea over the years. They are carried away by waves, storms, they break, crack open and erode. Then we find them on the beach. Shells depict, in their shapes, the forces of nature and time. They survive because of their layered thickness, porosity, shapes carved by the movement of the sea. They are an inspiration for forms and materials, to imagine resilient seaside infrastructures.
Hyemin Jang: Anemone Surfology
Buildings in Rockaway beach are mostly built in rigid concrete and metal, yet this structure system in Rockaway beach proved ineffective by Hurricane Sandy. However, concrete walls are still being built to come up with solutions for dealing with future disasters and confronting massive energy carried by waves. In order to avoid repeating past errors of the ironically vulnerable method, we need to rethink, and apply a new method of protection for future. This proposal uses a technology developed to harvest electric energy from wave power with buoyant energy generators anchored in the seafloor. It has an interesting side effect: By passing through the layers of the wave energy farm’s floating elements, the velocity and power of waves is decreased. Concept of transforming energy developed to the idea that one can utilize the energy from wave to decrease the impact. The lightness of the floating objects offers a counter-model: It responds to waves rather than to confront and reject them. But this proposal does not only aim at taking out energy from waves and decrease their impact, or to generate energy; it imagines a floating community for public. The floating structure, dedicated to protect the shores and to generate environmental-friendly energy, can also be used as a new, “offshore” form of public space for surfers and swimmers.
Stephen di Leo: Sandscapes
The trail of destruction from the last hurricane was not arbitrary. Regardless how explicit the logic, the index itself is performative in nature and serves as a guide in reconstructing and remediating the water’s edge. Using the index as a guide, the introduction of massive rocks perform in redirecting water and wind fl ow creating a natural labyrinthical landscape that protects the Rockaways from the next storm. The topographic condition is constantly shifting creating tidal pools, inlets, fl ex programmable spaces, and in some places – the perfect waves for surfi ng. The mundane homogenous beach or pier is replaced by a radically topographic, ecologically diverse, programmatically rich, and naturally stable environment. The threshold between urbanization and recreation becomes unclear as the condition is in constant fl ux. This almost ephemeral landscape provokes visitors and residents to make the beach their own, and to creatively nest in the ever changing sandscape.
Catherine Joseph: Protect Your Bumper
The Rockaways is a breakwater for New York. It is effectively a bumper – a site that absorbs the shock of an assault. Its geographical function is protector, not something to be protected. And yet the settlement on the Rockaways must be protected if it will continue as a site of human habitation. A bumper is engineered to fail. It is a spatial object designed to reduce the initial force of a collision and redistribute the force away from protection areas. To fulfill this function, the volumetric components of the bumper are designed with crumple zones. These regions are composed of materials which collapse to decelerate the colliding objects and divert the force away from regions that cannot, for functional reasons, deform. It is then logical to view the Rockaways as a bumper for the rest of New York, protecting the city by deflecting and redirecting storm and sea forces.
Min Keun Park: Open To Close
The paradox of an umbrella is a viable thinking model that can be integrated into the reconstruction of the Rockaway. The proposal examines the possibility to likewise elevate and thus expand the beach, inhabit not only under the umbrella but also above it. What serves as a communal, public space that is occupiable underneath the structure can likewise be occupiable above it as temporary islands during a time of threat. By expanding inhabitable space, the simple, elegant structure will revitalize the beach and community. Now is the time to rethink about how we may go about approaching a method of protection and be aware how that may affect public space. It is essential to bring the community together during times of struggle and become a stronger force against a beast.
Kristen Williams: Echology
The term ‘echo’ has a direct correlation to sound. It begins as a single sound from a specific source that then is thrown back towards the origin from many undefinable points. I placed a honey dipper in the path of oncoming waves, and discovered that the water was forced to change direction based on the object’s orientation, and this created an echoing pattern. The echoing pattern is then echoed by repeating the object, so that the echoing patterns interact and form new ones. Rockaway Beach is similar to and different than the solid object. Although water is forced to go around the peninsula, the shoreline of the peninsula is forced to change based on the impact of the water from the ocean. Using several repeating objects will help combat the effect of the waves from a storm like Hurricane Sandy. By placing several repeating objects in the water, the waves are forced to change direction, and the waves also begin to form echoes around the objects. This helps protect the shoreline of Rockaway Beach by breaking the force of incoming waves. In addition, the echoes create the appearance of land art when viewed from above, and the barrier is both functional and beautiful.
Yoonjee Oh: Site Weed
The proposed project multiplies the surface area of the wave-breaker, distributing the wave force over infinite points of surface contact. The currently existing concrete land-wall wave-breaker is an elongated single-surfaced wall that stretches along the length of the beach. When the waves hit, the forces of the wave hit a single plane of contact. The irregularity of the proposed structure assimilates to the benthic zone, where marine sedimentary organisms exist on the seabed. Taking from natural environments, the substrate bottom allows Benthos, or a community of organisms, to form superficial layers on top of the soil lining - these layers include sand bottoms, rocky outcrops, coral, seaweed, and bay mud. The benthic boundary of the continental plate secures sediments and anchors new coastlines while opening up possibilities of assimilation, adaptation, and regeneration of newly constructed underwater zones.
5 of 7
August 4—August 16, 2013
Rockaway Architecture Workshop
Weeks 5 and 6
August 4—August 16, 2013
Min Keun Park
Stefan di Leo