Sheepshead Bay; Community-Scaled Rebuilding
Originally developed in the 1920s as summer cottages on marshy infill, the bungalow courts of Sheepshead Bay are organized around internal mews that now stand at 4 feet below the street level as a consequence of the construction of the Coney Island Sewage treatment Plan, which entailed raising the surrounding grid. As illustrated here for Stanton Court, the mews were damaged by Sandy; but they also flood with every heavy rainfall. Working with the Pratt Center for several years after Sandy hit in 2012, we helped court residents work together on common plans to leverage their individual investments. This is a longstanding community of homeowners who to insure the environmental safety and economic well being of their neighborhood for years to come.
Because the homes are under-performing, fragile, and therefore difficult to raise, there are incentives for collectively lifting them and replacing them with a net-zero prefabricated alternative. (For more on the houses see 'Bungalows for Sheepshead' under 'Architecture'). A collective raised boardwalk provides ADA access to the homes that would be impossible to implement within each small property. Collective boardwalks also provides new social space with a monumental deck and shared solar array.
Raising the houses in synchrony to the Design Flood Elevation also allows the redesign of the existing landscape for collective water management infrastructure. In collaboration with Jason Loiselle and Sherwood Engineering, we developed a plan encompassing all the courts that creates sequences of smaller and larger wetlands in relation to a renewed shoreline.
The ultimate master plan would group the bungalows on the higher ground in denser configurations in order to free the ground needed to deal with upland flooding from rain and shore inundation. The by-product would be an increase in community parkland, which is now scarce. Only this scale of planning will make the neighborhood truly sustainable.