Yona on the Beach, Rockaways, NY, United States
Stephen Yablon Architecture

Acceptance of the inherent and increasingly dynamic conditions of barrier islands is central to this proposal for rebuilding the New York City neighborhood of Rockaway Beach post-Hurricane Sandy.

Rising sea levels and increasingly frequent storm and flood events will continue to threaten the survival of communities located in vulnerable coastal areas. Conventional urban infrastructure, placed on or slightly under the ground, is fundamentally incompatible with the shifting nature of barrier islands and coastal sand bars which are being continually re-shaped by wind, tides and waves.

Yona on the Beach offers a new form of barrier island settlement; entire beach neighborhoods raised high above the 100-year flood level, so that the barrier island can naturally change with minimal impact to human habitation. Inspired by methods which various cultures around the world have adopted to living and working in hostile marine environments, such as stilt houses and oil rigs, as well as the floating cities imagined by the architect, Yona Friedman, these raised communities are supported by open steel truss columns housing stairs and elevators, which could be raised in the event of a severe storm. Houses and commercial and public buildings are modular prefabricated structures, lifted and installed on the platform by cranes. Wooden walkways allow residents to get around, and wood decked public spaces surround large openings in the platform which along with the open steel structure allow light to filter below to beach level.

The landscape is allowed to return to its natural state with only minimal interventions at ground level: foot and bike paths and a service road. Cars would be stored in raised parking decks located at bay-side causeway entrances with monorail connections to the raised neighborhoods. The result is a dramatic place for recreation and a model for living on barrier islands.

Future project

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