The Rockaways are the ideal place to develop an ocean-oriented lifestyle. As New York City becomes more attractive for a wider demographic (including the people that would traditionally live in car-oriented suburbs), its hipsters, young families and empty nesters can actually take the train to the beach.

Sleeper, dreamer, guardian

Hurricane Sandy made the need for a double dune system on the peninsula evident. An expanded dune system is great for beach: it provides qualitative landscape and recreation space. It also offers space for seasonal program, such as little cabins, or pavilions.
The current, fortified coast is a hard edge that might break under pressure. This is the antithesis to a natural system where the coast is flexible, dynamic and ever changing: a soft edge that bends with the blows from hurricanes. By removing the groins, and pumping sand into the system, it can, over time, be replenished naturally. Dunes, a Guardian, Sleeper and a Dreamer, form a hybrid landscape that reintroduces natural processes where possible: wind and wave action create natural barriers, native dune grasses trap the sand and permanent development is pushed back behind this dynamic dune system.

Metro on the beach in summer

Metro on the beach in winter

It is only obvious that the possibility to link the metro via a platform to a fantastic three-dimensional boardwalk, the dune system and to the beach is an opportunity not to be missed. A subway on the beach develops into an emblematic Metro on the Beach. Metro on the Beach becomes a playground for New Yorkers (for a day, for a weekend, or for the summer), for the small entrepreneurs, and for the development of temporary structures and mobile architecture (a more and more important tool for city making worldwide). Off-season, many of the buildings and facilities are stored in a designated part of the parking garage, such that in winter enough remains to serve the permanent community and the more occasional visitor.

Permanent housing areas

Thinking at a larger scale is important for the Rockaways. In order to become truly a place that New Yorkers know, and love to live in or visit, the new dune structure along the entire coast is a great opportunity. It offers safety, creates space for housing and recreation, and can form the bedrock for new cycle and walking routes. It also provides ample opportunity for new – partly tourist-based – (economic) development, of which this site can be the emblematic start.

client: NYC department of Housing Preservation and Development
collaborators: Dutch Water Design
size: Design Competition for a Resilient Rockaway, Urban Design
year: 2013

Seasonal housing areas

Regional strategy

Landscape strategy