As catastrophic storm events and recurrent flooding increase in frequency, many neighborhoods like Red Hook find their future in question. Witnessing the damage wrought by Hurricane Sandy and the subsequent flooding, it became clear that the neighborhood requires a comprehensive solution that can allow for future growth while simultaneously planning for a more resilient urban coastline.
A locally manufactured kit of parts can be deployed to infill vertically above the existing neighborhood. This strategy increases buildable space and density, protecting future development from rising sea levels and flooding while also being contextually sensitive towards the existing neighborhood and residents. Made primarily of wood, this system allows for dry construction on-site. It is easily assembled, highly flexible, and adaptable, allowing buildings to evolve with their users. Carbon sequestration inherent in wood mitigates the detrimental effects of typical building practices, and the material’s life cycle promotes sustainable building maintenance and healthy foresting practices.
Given the time preceding permanent water on site, maintaining a lively street condition remains a priority. Modular pods allow for densification below flood levels, and are an ideal solution for Red Hook’s abundance of vacant lots. These units can be used for a variety of programs, ranging from housing to storefronts. Their layered, modular design makes for easy connection between units, allowing for expansion. When threatened by an approaching storm, ground floor units can be removed and temporarily relocated to higher ground, protecting their owner’s investments. After waters have receded and cleanup has occurred, the pods can be returned to their original locations. This active flood-response strategy ensures neighborhood vitality before and after disasters.
By stilting above the existing context and creating temporary ground-floor infill, the neighborhood can slowly evolve without immediately abandoning the ground plane. As land is lost to rising sea levels and returning wetlands, a new elevated connective infrastructure bridging between the stilted structures will serve as the neighborhood’s primary means of circulation.
Breaking down the barriers between human habitation and local ecologies re-establishes a symbiotic relationship between people and their natural environment currently missing from contemporary practice. We believe that this proposal has the potential to shift the paradigm of building in urban coastal areas, and we hope you agree. Thanks for your support!"