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White arkitekter wins competition to redevelop Hurricane-hit waterfront of Queens in US

24 Oct 2013 (Last Updated October 24th, 2013 18:30)

Sweden-based White arkitekter, along with its partners, has won an international two-phased design competition to redevelop the waterfront of Queens in New York, hit by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

Arverne East

Sweden-based White arkitekter, along with its partners, has won an international two-phased design competition to redevelop the waterfront of Queens in New York, which was hit by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

The NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development has launched the competition, dubbed ‘For a Resilient Rockaway’ (FAR ROC) in April 2013 to redevelop the waterfront of New York’s Arverne East.

The team, comprising White Arkitekter, Arup and Gensler, beat off competition from 117 other firms including the UK-based collective Seeding Office, US-based Ennead Architects, and Canadian architect Lateral Office.

The project will be implemented initially on an 80+ acre site on the Rockaway Peninsula, Arverne East.

The winning scheme, entitled Small Means and Great Ends, proposes a series of interconnected small-scale interventions that together disperse and direct wind as well as flooding in order to reduce the impact of extreme weather and deflect it from the planned mixed-use development.

The consortium will also provide a blueprint for future redevelopment along the coastline.

White arkitekter said the proposal acknowledges the forces of extreme weather and future uncertainties, creating a landscape that interacts and does not counteract, relating to the forces ‘like a surfer to the waves’.

The programme ranges from hurricane resiliency strategies that include artificial islands to reduce the impact of forceful waves, to housing several public and commercial amenities, retirement homes and large landscaped parks.

Plans also include a hotel, theatre, sport accommodation facilities and two large landscape parks cut through the area as boulevards, which function both as storm water detainment and retention and as a public park.

A new sandbar landscape in the sea is proposed to be organically developed with prefabricated concrete elements or locally available rocks functioning as a detached breakwater in the sea.

White arkitekter project architect Sander Schuur said thousands of residents of Arverne East lost their homes during the Hurricane Sandy disaster.

"But the disaster also led to a stronger sense of community in the area. The essence of White’s proposal is to channel the residents’ involvement and provide them with new tools to act and react in the community’s interest," Schuur said.

"With our Scandinavian approach, we believe we can strengthen and enrich the community and provide the opportunity for the community to realise their dreams."


Image: The winning proposal intends to transform an 80-acre shoreline site in the Rockaways. Photo: Courtesy of 2013 FARROC.