‘Occupy Infrastructure’: MOMA PS1 Rockaway Call for Ideas Winning Proposal / Barkow Leibinger Architects

Courtesy of Barkow Leibinger Architects

One of the selected entries in the MOMA PS1 Call for Ideas, the ’Occupy Infrastructure’ proposal by Barkow Leibinger Architects is three-fold. The main idea is to construct a network of retaining berms based on priority and need with local materials and by the communities that they protect. These berms are not continuous (like a wall) but overlap to allow beach access, gateways, and to maintain visual and spatial openness and continuity between beaches and neighborhoods.  More images and architects’ description after the break.

Courtesy of Barkow Leibinger Architects

We need to repair these communities from the damage that has been done, then, to protect them from future destruction as our waters rise, but also to offer something new. Social and event spaces that are made from protective infrastructure. These are in a sense multi-tasking systems: you can walk on them like a boardwalk, you can use them as amphitheaters, they create spaces behind them on the landside for farming, gardens, sports, swimming, shops, events, pavilions or camping. It’s an open-ended system: The communities that they protect will determine different ways how to use them based on need and interest. Its flexible and what we are showing is not set in stone but is a kind of demonstration of how this might work.

Courtesy of Barkow Leibinger Architects

There is also an idea that focuses on how you make such a project: How do you build it? We have a lot of experience with smart materials. For examples, communities can collect waste plastic for example from the ocean: you can recycle it combining it with cement to make infralight concrete, 1/3 the weight of regular construction concrete that can at the same time make really strong retaining structures. These are building blocks of a variety of shapes that can be made on-site and with local participation. Smart, light, and strong. These blocks are interlocking and open so plants can grow between them and water can drain through them and return to the ocean.

Courtesy of Barkow Leibinger Architects

This project can be phased over time, you don’t have to do it all at once, as needed and by priority: this is a democratic process and will be determined by the communities. No barrier, this idea is like a protective landscape that can open and close making a sequence of spaces like an emerald necklace. Over time the berms will be integrated into the beach as they are partially covered in sand, by vegetation and trees. Boardwalks and bridges zigzagging across the crowns of the berms will connect meadows, orchards, sport fields, swimming pools, and pavilions and shops.

Courtesy of Barkow Leibinger Architects

Rockaway can take possession of this landscape, use it and extend neighborhoods into them. Occupy Infrastructure that is pragmatic but also poetic.

Cite: Furuto, Alison. "‘Occupy Infrastructure’: MOMA PS1 Rockaway Call for Ideas Winning Proposal / Barkow Leibinger Architects" 30 Jun 2013. ArchDaily. Accessed 30 Sep 2014. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=394807>


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    Yeah, right, a democratic process determined by the community… like a gated community does? Give me a break. Sometimes I think Occupy people don’t have the slightest idea what democracy in our country means, and I’m no conservative. A lot of Occupy ideas end up being no different than libertarianism, which is the opposite of democracy, especially in a country as religious as ours. Neighborhoods shouldn’t be designed by community groups, they should be designed by urban planners and architects with opportunities for input from anyone, people in the community, visitors from NYC, etc. In Rockaway this plan would largely end up being dominated by local religious groups, because they’re the ones that get together and control local community meetings. If anything, this is a recipe for theocracy, not democracy.

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    “I don’t want nostalgia to return, therefore I’m going to turn the design over to a highly religious/nostalgic community… because… uh… because I don’t know what I’m doing and I didn’t bother to find out about the community I was designing this for.”

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    I find this aesthetically nice, and sober, in terms of architecture, functionally, well is based on existing structures, which is not pretentious, good work.

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