After Sandy, Stilt City, a Space for Artists, Comes to Rockaway

A rendering for Stilt City, Rockaway's planned artist community space. Photo: Jaklitsch/Gardner Architects,.
A rendering for Stilt City, Rockaway's planned artist community space. Photo: Jaklitsch/Gardner Architects,.

A Hurricane Sandy–flooded Rockaway bungalow is on its way to becoming a community-based artists’ work space, reports the Rockaway Times.

The project, which will include an exhibition space and host an artists residency program, is the brainchild of Brooklyn-based artist Robyn Hasty. Though creating such a space had long been a dream of hers, she had assumed real estate costs would price her out of New York. Then she discovered a Rockaway Beach home that had been flooded during the 2012 super storm.

The location, while off the beaten path, appealed to Hasty, who had previously worked on art projects in the neighborhood. She was even more interested in the site after the storm. “There’s something about the upheaval in that kind of crisis and thinking about ways space can address those issues from a social perspective and a climate perspective,” she told the Times. “That made it even more important to me, that connection to the Rockaways.”

In addition to addressing the obvious issue of offering affordable space for artists in an ever-more-expensive city, the project, called Stilt City, will encourage artists to address climate change and flooding during their residencies. Hasty is considering one- or two-month programs.  “The project was born out of the belief that artistic vision is essential to communities after crisis,” she added in a statement.

First however, comes the hard part: rebuilding. On the case is New York City design firm Jaklitsch/Gardner Architects, who is working for Stilt City on a pro bono basis.

Partner Stephan Jaklitsch told the Times that “seeing some of the other construction going on in response to Sandy and being turned off by that and realizing we could do something different” convinced the firm to take on the project.

They’re incorporating low-cost anti-flooding measures designed to minimize damage and make future repairs after water damage as easy as possible. The plans utilize naturally porous materials, mold-resistant marine-grade plywood, and include a sloping roof that will house elevated storage space. (Actually putting Stilt City on stilts, unfortunately, is cost prohibitive.)

To supply the $100,000 needed for construction materials, Hasty will turn to online crowd-funding. The Stilt City Kickstarter launch party is scheduled for November 20 from 7–10 P.M. at Pioneer Works in Red Hook, Brooklyn.

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