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Sandy-Ravaged Rockaways Bungalow Reborn as an Artist Residency

Rendering of Stilt City in Rockaway Park (all images courtesy Stilt City)
Rendering of Stilt City in Rockaway Park (all images courtesy Stilt City)

Two years on, the effect of Hurricane Sandy is still visible in the Rockaways’s vacant bungalows. Artist Robyn Renee Hasty is imagining one of these storm-wrecked homes as a creative community space, one that could simultaneously be a model of rebuilding with low-impact design.

The process of restoring the Stilt City bungalow
The process of restoring the Stilt City bungalow (click to view larger)

“What the Rockaway location brings to this project is a kind of connection to both the environment and the architecture that give it an opportunity to directly address those issues,” Hasty told Hyperallergic. The Brooklyn-based artist’s project Stilt City is now crowdfunding on Kickstarter for construction costs. In collaboration with Jaklitsch / Gardner Architects, Stilt City is imagined as a participatory space with artist residencies and public programming. The budget-conscious design measures are adaptable for any houses unable to elevate against the threat of future flooding, with porous material for drainage, marine-grade plywood, and a sloped roof with a lofted area for storage.

“The idea of making a space that exists outside of the city’s system of capital-production, as a kind of alternative economic system that is based more on grassroots economies and social systems, is something that seems extremely relevant in city that is increasingly hostile towards the populations that actually make its culture,” Hasty explained. She was majorly influenced by her participation in the Miss Rockaway Armada of 2006 to 2007, where 30 people joined in building boats from junk and scraps that were sailed from Minneapolis to St. Louis down the Mississippi.

That spirit of achieving something seemingly impossible and involving a broad community is at the forefront of Stilt City, especially as it rises from the decay of disaster. “After Sandy, I think there is an emotional need for this kind of deep expression, as a way to process the effects of the storm,” Hasty added. With her photographs on wet-plate collodion of grassroots efforts to rebuild after economic collapse in the United States, and her designs for stencils for the Right of Way project that memorialize pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities in NYC, Hasty has already shown alternative ways of using visual expression to tackle major community issues. Perhaps by salvaging the Rockaways bungalow, a resilient space for inviting artists to live and work in the area can be secured, even in a future when the floods may return.

The Stilt City bungalow before renovation
The Stilt City bungalow before renovation

Stilt City – A Bungalow Artist Space in The Rockaways, NYC is fundraising on Kickstarter through January 1.  

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