For the design, we took the perspectives of communities and local governments as a starting point. Based on their views, we propose local climate adaptation measures that fit within the American way and also contribute to a larger regional flood protection. This design is our interpretation of how the flood risks could be addressed in the city of Asbury Park. It is not a blue-print plan, but we hope that it inspires and sparks discussion on how we could move towards a more resilient coastal management.
Start on Small Scale: Awareness through Involvement
Inspired by local artists that take the debris from Sandy to build beautiful pieces, we also see the potential of all the rubble left after a storm. If we use this material to build dune crossings that catch sand and support dune formation, the debris is recycled as something that contributes to flood safety as well as a the facilities needed in a tourist seaside town.
In the North End of the Asbury Park Boardwalk, we propose a larger dune crossing that also functions as a Sandy memorial. Here, the local community can contribute to the memorial by crowdfunding of the construction. People can donate planks or money and have their name or a short message stamped into the wood. This way, the debris from the storm helps to commemorate the impact of Sandy and supports flood awareness.
Living on the Shore
Currently, there are no homes on the shores of Asbury Park and I would not recommend adding them because of the risks of flooding. Even though, along many parts of the Jersey coast there are homes very close to the beach. It would be easy to say that these people should just not be able to live on the shore, but that will not reduce the demand. So, I would still like to explore how building on the shore could be done in a sustainable way that does not limit natural processes of sand drift and dune formation.
Seasonal housing with the right dimensions and distances, can be placed on the beach without disrupting the natural processes. In summer these beach dwellings answer the need to live close to the beach with a beautiful ocean view. After the summer season, the dwellings can close their walls and transported on rails. By linking them into each other, the contractions can form a flexible flood wall for extra protection where needed.
Dunes + Seaside Fun: Event Valleys
Asbury Park is such a fun seaside town, we had to integrate that in the protective dune landscape -which was the preferred option from both the interviews and the community outreach posters. This fun character is often visible in all the markets, concerts and (food) festivals that are organized along the AP Boardwalk. By adding event spaces in dune valleys along the boardwalk, we want to show that flood protective interventions can go together with the local identity of a town.
Near the Paramount Theater, a large event valley is proposed. Seating elements in the protective dune strengthen the structure and shape it into a podium. Movies -or our documentary- can be projected onto the old theater.
Dunes + Seaside Fun: Boardwalk Bike Rides
Another inspiration to integrate fun into the dune landscape, are the old rides and attractions along the Shore. We reinterpreted this fun as the fun you have when you’re biking up and down the dunes. Currently there is no biking on the boardwalk during the day, so we added a biking boardwalk through the dunes for faster traffic. Bikes, skateboards and other wheels can be rented in the old casino. The route takes you from one town to the other, linking to the highlights of the town and all the interventions. It exploits the ocean view by adding higher viewpoints. For example through the second floor of the building on the north side and over the arcade.
Parking as Urban Flood Plains
On the west side of the boardwalk is currently an ocean of parking and empty lots that remain from the economic crisis. This might not seem ideal, but when there is parking, there are also not a lot of lives or money at stake when it floods.
If we redesign the parking lots with a technique that is able to retain and slowly discharge large amounts of water, the oceanfront region is turned into urban flood plains.
In this innovative technique, gravel and permeable asphalt from local mines are used. They allow for large amount of water to be soaked into the ground and stormwater drains while at the same time people can still drive on it as normal. In summer, these parking lots provide parking space close to the beach. Outside of peak hours the lots can also be used to host concerts or food festivals. And in storm season, the materials can take up large amount of water that otherwise could end up in someones’ basement.
We end with the overall dune system that connects all the interventions. The dune landscape is largely inspired by the Double Dune Landscape of Ian McHarg: who proposed the idea of looking at the Dutch dune system as a reference for the solutions for New Jersey already n the ’60. The dune landscape widens the feel of being on the beach, so the demands and pressure that is on the Shore can also be spread out to a larger coastal zone.
The outline is generally made by adding all applicable space like parking, empty lots and green space. Especially for the empty lots that are a result from the economic crisis, it is crucial to heighten them now, before new developments take place in these risky areas.
The buildings that are already present can stay, but are now seen as hard structures that can strengthen the protective dune system. When there is no building, the dunes can be combined with other functions. In front of the boardwalk are only smaller dunes to keep the ocean view from the boardwalk.
Adaptable Dune Landscape
On a regional scale, the design attempts to inspire other towns to see the benefits of a multifunctional dune landscape. This way we move towards a larger landscape zone in stead of having only a small edge where all this pressure and demands are. The case of Asbury Park is an example of how this dune landscape can be adapted to a seaside town on the Northern Headlands. For other towns and other landscape types, the dune system can be adapted to maintain the wonderful variety of characters along the shore.