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8 Ideas to Combat Floods and Rising Sea Levels in NYC

In recent years, architects have started to think about ways that New York City can adapt to protect itself from rising sea levels and extreme flooding from storms like Hurricane Sandy. Most focus on "soft infrastructure" like living reefs and permeable landscapes, and while they may seem mindbogglingly unrealistic, the proposals are certainly a starting point for thinking about how New York can better prepare for the forces of nature. Above, a team of architecture students created a planted latticework bib that would be draped over low-lying areas to absorb water.

Two years ago, MoMA hosted an exhibition called "Rising Currents" in which the museum tasked five architecture teams to create proposals to protect New York from global warming and rising sea levels, each focusing on a different section of the harbor. Architecture Research Office and dlandstudio envisioned a Lower Manhattan surrounded by wetlands. Asphalt streets would also be replaced with a permeable cast-concrete substance that could absorb water.

The waterfront of Sunset Park was transformed into a series of artificial islands with copious amounts of plantings by nArchitects. The long blocks of buildings look like green-covered housing projects, and instead of streets, there would be canals.

Scape Studio proposed creating wetlands and an oyster farm along the Gowanus Canal, an idea that is currently being tested. The hope is that one day enough oysters and mussels will be able to survive at the mouth of the canal to create a a "blue park."

Matthew Baird Architects tackled a large oil refinery in Bayonne, New Jersey by replacing it with piers that would host bio-fuel and recycling plants. If left alone, the refinery could be underwater within 60 years.

Liberty State Park would swap it's hard-edged piers for a more flexible, "amphibious landscape continually activated by rising tides" created by LTL Architects. There would be four primary piers designed to engage tidal fluctuations "using a wide range of boundary types between water and land, from hard edges to gradual slopes."

Joseph Wood imagined a Venice-like canal system for the waterfront in the Upper East Side. Wood created the proposal for a contest hosted by Civitas. Streets would be turned into canals, boardwalks would cut through, and water-filtering plants would be included throughout.

And last, but not least, we have the Eco Tower Museum, which places itself directly in the harbor. Designed by Labscape, the project would have a permeable skin to purify the water from the river so it could be used for drinking.
· Rising Currents exhibition at MoMA [official]
· Bibs to Protect NYC From Melted Ice Caps, Butter [Curbed]
· Upper Venetian Side Captures Waterfront Design Prize [Curbed]