Author: Donna Conneely
US officials in the Department of Housing and Urban Development have announced the winners of an international design contest aimed at generating fresh ideas to protect the coastal areas of New York and New Jersey. The top ten ideas were announced on November 14th, chosen out of a total of 41 plans submitted to the contest. Over 200 engineers and architects were involved in the project.The teams associated with the top ten winning ideas will now move into a new phase of the contest, in which they will create concrete models of their plan, and will in some cases use computer generated simulations to assess the viability of the plan.
Contest officials stress that the winning ideas may never be implemented in real life, but maintain that the contest is important to foment regional conversation about the drastic changes that may be necessary to hold off rising tides and large storms resulting from climate change.
The contest was funded in part by the Rockefeller Foundation, and is called Rebuild by Design. More information about the contest results for New York and New Jersey, as well as projects planned in other parts of the US, may be found here: RebuildByDesign.org.
A few of the top ten projects are:
- Construction of canals and water-stopping parks in Hoboken, New Jersey. The green parks would be used for recreation purposes, but in the event of flooding would also act as natural sponges to soak up or safely divert floodwaters.
- Breakwaters, using natural materials, would be built off Staten Island to buffer storm surges.
- An eight-mile network of dikes and flood barriers, designed to be ringed around the perimeter of Manhattan Island. This project, known as The Big U, has particularly captured imaginations due to its breathtaking scope- and corresponding price tag!
- Addition of green flood-absorption areas around the dock areas of the Bronx. This waterfront area is hugely important to the food distribution process- even more critical during times of natural disaster.
- Conversion of current green parks and meadows into tidal zones. New development might be planned around these flood-absorbing zones.
- Man-made barrier islands to stretch the entire length of the New Jersey coastline. This island could be oyster beds in order to add extra benefit to the flood barrier properties of the island.
Although these ideas may never come to fruition in the real world, many of the good ideas from the contest will serve to initiate regional cooperation and conversation about the very real threats facing coastal areas in the coming years.