White Arkitekter Wins FAR ROC Design Competition

Stockholm-based White Arkitekter, along with partners ARUP and Gensler, has been announced as the winner of the two-phase “For a Resilient Rockaway” (FAR ROC) design competition in New York. Selected from a shortlist of four and an international pool of 117, White Arkitekter’s “untraditional” proposal aims to transform an 80-acre shoreline site in the Rockaways into a resilient and affordable community through a series of small interventions that can be tested, adjusted, or redesigned overtime during the development process.

Sustainable Economic Center. Image Courtesy of White Arkitekter

“Our vision," describes White Arkitekter, "is to create an urban design for the community of Arverne East that through a series of small, affordable, and smart interventions creates a model which rises beyond resilient, to a level we call ”antifragile”. The term ”resiliency” implies a return of something that was damaged to its original form. The community must not settle for a return to the past but instead adapt and actively improve conditions both for this generation and for those to come, to become beyond resilient.”

Arverne East. Image Courtesy of White Arkitekter
Site Plan. Image Courtesy of White Arkitekter

Small Means and Great Ends: The Architect’s Description

The Rockaways, with its long stretch of beachfront, has drawn visitors for many decades. The unexploited shoreline with its surrounding natural habitat has a truly authentic spirit. The area, however, has suffered from economic decline in recent years. Both public space and commercial activity are insufficient; there is a need for more services and amenities, as well as better access to the extraordinary beach. Life changed dramatically for the people in the Rockaways after the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy. Thousands of people lost their homes. 

While it is difficult to predict if storms like Sandy will become more common in the future, scientific studies are indicating that future extreme weather events are inevitable. We need to take action to prepare for these potential natural disasters.

“We have to ... not just right the wrongs of Sandy but start righting some greater wrongs, because the Rockaways have been ignored for decades.” Mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio in the Far Rockaways Sept. 29th 2013.

Street View. Image Courtesy of White Arkitekter

Great Ends

Our goal is to create an authentic urban development; a new home for the community of Arverne East, a lively and beautiful environment that interacts, rather than counteracts with the sea and responds to natural forces. The community must develop a symbiotic relationship with the environment, similar to how a surfer rides the waves. Our proposed urban strategy aims to create an inclusive community that will enable all members to flourish. It respects all citizens and provides opportunities for them to engage in decision-making processes that affect their lives directly. Our proposal accomplishes this through a design solution which integrates a healthy mix of housing types supported by commercial and public services and social places.

A series of off-shore sandbanks, a protected nature preserve, and two large storm water parks, in addition to the widened beach and dune landscape synergistically weave nature into the plan. The central boulevard lined with commercial and public functions connects Beach 44th Street Station and surrounding areas directly to the beach and the new pier. A wetland park surrounding P.S. 106 activates outdoor programming and services for children. The property types are designed to give ownership to young individuals, couples, families, and older generations. In combination with commercial and public services and activities, a vibrant development is created - impactful engagement creates successful communities.

Residential Courtyard View. Image Courtesy of White Arkitekter

Small Means

Our approach is untraditional; instead of delivering a one package solution we suggest the design to consist of a series of small interventions that are adaptable, feasible, affordable and smart. These interventions are a step-by-step approach to rebuilding that can be tested, adjusted, or redesigned as required during the development process. 

We believe in a holistic approach to resiliency - one that provides a framework to guard against socio-economic dangers in addition to natural disasters. Our approach also aims to empower the community to capture its own creative spirit to build a new neighborhood. We will build on the existing structure to enhance its existing assets, strengthen its identity, and provide new opportunities for future development.

Boardwalk View. Image Courtesy of White Arkitekter

As the infrastructure is being developed, business opportunities will be created along the central axis of the site. As construction is taking place, we envision numerous opportunities for temporary activities to ensure a lively environment from day one. 

By implementing a flexible design approach, long-term strategies will ensure successful development within the community that build on the natural assets of the shoreline and surrounding areas, as well as the innate value that the community already holds and will bring to the site as development begins. Ultimately, the end result will incorporate a rich blend of affordable housing, business opportunities for residents, new economic ownership models, and plenty of open public space.

In the event of a natural disaster, the overall development strategy is designed to reduce and control damage by dispersing and redirecting the storm water as it surges; to maintain access to and operation of essential buildings and infrastructure; to ensure a quick recovery; and to empower the community to take a leadership role before, during, and after the event.

You can download and review their entire proposal here.

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About this author
Cite: Karissa Rosenfield. "White Arkitekter Wins FAR ROC Design Competition " 23 Oct 2013. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/441941/white-arkitekter-wins-far-roc-design-competition> ISSN 0719-8884

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