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Urban coastlines are at ever-increasing risk from storm-weather events and long-term sea level rise. Yet often, these are the most desired locales, and by their very nature, many of our dense urban centers are located on the coastline. If we are going to continue living in these places, can we devise better, smarter ways to build?  


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For an urban neighborhood to remain resilient and sustainable over many generations, the underlying infrastructure and organization must allow for adaptation, accommodating long-term response to uncertain economic and environmental change.

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F.R.E.D. focused on two systems that have proven to be extraordinarily adaptive and resilient: the native dune ecology of barrier islands like the Rockaways and the New York City row house typology.  

By integrating the two, the design maximizes the benefits of coastal protection, stormwater management, conservation of habitat, energy efficiency, and social resilience. The resulting hybrid points to a new way of living at the beach, with a redefined relationship between building and landscape, urbanity and ecology. 

In order to maximize the capacity for adaptation, the proposed flexible system is made up of several distinct components: dunes, piers, and elevated housing clusters.


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A progression of micro-environments extends across the site, beginning at the beach, which functions in a dynamic fashion with the primary and secondary dunes, and progressing to hardier and more stable shrub land and maritime forest on the higher ground.  Low-lying wet meadows serve as bio-retention areas to collect and filter stormwater. Together, the system protects the neighborhood from wave energy, replenishes the beach, manages surface water, and sponsors habitat opportunities.  A series of paths extends across the site within the valleys of the dunes, linking small community recreation sites like gardens, dog run, and toddler playgrounds.


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Three elevated pedestrian piers, aligned with the existing street grid, organize pedestrian and vehicular access, utility distribution, and retail activity.  At the north end, the piers connect to the elevated stations of the A Train and sponsor neighborhood retail hubs on two levels serving the larger community; at the south the piers extend over the dunes, connecting to the boardwalk and offering beachfront destinations and community amenities.  Roads follow the principal piers, with vehicular traffic, sidewalks, street parking and additional retail at grade below.  If sea-level rise eventually brings regular tidal flooding from Jamaica Bay, the elevated piers will allow the neighborhood to adapt to a predominantly pedestrian community.

Elevated Housing

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The housing is collected into dense clusters of three- and four-story row houses, elevated off the ground and organized around a shared deck, which connects at one end to the pier and at the other down to the valley paths.  Large openings in the deck provide light and access to parking below.  

In addition to common outdoor spaces, the houses share a ground-source heating and cooling loop and a rooftop photovoltaic array. These systems, along with efficient massing and envelope, natural ventilation, and energy efficient fixtures, allow the housing cluster to produce as much energy as it consumes over the course of the year.

F.R.E.D. Selected as Finalist for FARROC Competition

Ennead Lab's entry to the FARROC competition was selected as one of four finalists.  The selected entries will continue to Phase 2 of the competition, during which each team will collaborate directly with the communities of Far Rockaway.

F.R.E.D. Awarded for "Leading Innovation"

Ennead Lab’s design entry for the FARROC (For a Resilient Rockaway) competition was awarded the jury prize for Leading Innovation in Resilient Waterfront Development.  Titled “Fostering Resilient Ecological Development” (F.R.E.D.), our submission creates a solution that is not only practical but also replicable for low-lying coastal communities up and down the Atlantic seaboard.  For more information, check out ArchDaily’s post on the project.

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F.R.E.D Recognized in 2017 Architizer A+ Awards

F.R.E.D Recognized in 2017 Architizer A+ Awards as a Jury Winner in the Unbuilt Masterplan Category