Award-winning architecture firm LOT-EK is best known for their innovative shipping container structures but they took a different approach for their entry into the "For a Resilient Rockaway" (FAR ROC) design competition. Created in collaboration with SCAPE landscape architecture, Sherwood Design Engineers, and James Lima Planning + Development, DUNE CO-HABITAT is a coastal protection plan and mixed-use community that would use dunes and other natural systems to defend against storm breaches on the proposed 80+ acre site in Queens. The dynamic waterfront proposal earned an honorable mention in the competition for its use of resilient architecture strategies.
DUNE CO-HABITAT combines ecological design into a public and semi-public open space network to create an environment for people and marine life to coexist. To protect the community from a storm surge, the designers created a series of floodable platforms and specially shaped dunes that would defend key site infrastructure. Vegetated buffers such as flood-resistant coastal scrub gardens would be planted between the dunes to provide aesthetic landscaping and an extra line of defense against rising tides.
The solar-powered Rockaways bungalows and other resilient buildings are clustered together into dense, zig-zagging masses that lie perpendicular to the dune-generating boardwalk running alongside the waterfront. A series of semi-public courtyards are integrated next to the buildings to cultivate a sense of the local neighborhood character that exists in many Queens and Brooklyn communities. The vegetated landscape backbone planted alongside the bungalows would also double as low-energy wastewater treatment systems to eliminate the community’s dependence on the vulnerable combined sewer system.