Design for Safe-to-Fail Neighbourhood in New York
Our proposal for Far Rockaway establishes a series of ‘safe-to-fail’ measures to ensure the neighbourhood remains safe before, during, and after severe weather events.
As ‘safe-to-fail’ structures, when overpowered by Mother Nature, they safely react to prevent extensive damage and allow the community to self-recover.
The first two combined strategies enlarge the existing beach and reintroduce a natural dune system. When a storm surge hits, the enlarged beach and dune system will slow down and dissipate the surge, lessening the impact of damage further inland. The dunes and beach system will enhance tourism by attracting people to swim, surf, and explore the area. Positive economic growth will in turn spur increased urban density, and vice versa.
The third strategy is a water baffle / parking structure, acting as a substantial breakwater beyond the beach and dunes during a severe weather event.
The retail promenade along the new esplanade atop the parking structure fosters access to local businesses. The design is considered safe during and after a severe weather event.
These water baffle / parking structures work together with our fourth strategy: areas with built-up grade. The residential and commercial neighbourhoods sit on stilts, adjacent to an artificially raised grade that protects utilities and services below. We propose that only 20% of the land area need be raised to provide the required protection, as an economical and environmental alternative to raising 100% of Far Rockaway. Should the local site service fail, all homes are designed using Passive House principles and durable materials to remain comfortable without power.
Rather than spending many years (and many dollars) in planning, research, and design after the fact, smart planning, sustainable design, and resiliency should be built into all neighbourhoods before disasters occur.