Earlier this March, MoMA PS1 challenged designers to rebuild the Hurricane Sandy-battered Far Rockaways in a more resilient way, and many of the responses were truly innovative. One of the winning designs, by Sorg Architects, is a boardwalk that doubles as a Water Dyke to protect the shoreline from flooding. Instead of using solid barriers, like the massive sand dunes the city dredged up to protect the area from tidal flooding, Sorg’s solution consists of hidden-away, balloon-like bubbles that actually use storm surges themselves to inflate, holding the overflow of water back with their own might.
The concept behind the Water Dyke is to harness the rising storm surge water itself to protect the shoreline from damaging floods. According to the designers, when the water rises to dangerous levels, fabric bubbles underneath the boardwalk fill up with the captured surge waters. As this happens, the bubbles will inflate into water-filled sacks backed up by a wooden wall of flipped up boardwalk planks.
Sorg Architects says it wanted to create a design that not only functions as “soft” infrastructure, but also does not interfere with the community. When the boardwalk isn’t protecting the area from flooding, it remains entirely hidden. Unlike a hard barrier that uses large in-ground foundations and impassible walls, the Water Dyke won’t affect the local ecosystem or block off the community’s view of the waterfront.
For now though, the Water Dyke is just a conceptual idea but there could be talks in the future to realize the plan for the Far Rockaway boardwalk.
Images © Sorg Architects