An increasing tendency in urban design and landscape architecture to build defensive urban terrains which aim to protect communities from sea level rise and storm surges. An example can be seen in the proposed redesign of Stuyvesant Cove Park in New York City which was badly flooded during Superstorm Sandy. A new plan for the park will incorporate elevated areas – a mounded park – and floodgates. The mounded park on the river’s edge will attempt to protect the high density housing area of Stuyvesant town behind it.1 The Mounding tendency can be witnessed on a larger scale in the larger ‘BIG U’ protective system planned for lower Manhattan, in which ten continuous miles of low-lying geography will be redesigned in order to address structural and environmental vulnerabilities exposed by Hurricane Sandy.2
Mounding could be read as a contemporary globalisation of the dike systems long practised in the Netherlands – where about a quarter of the land is below sea level. Given that many of the world’s major cities (and financial capitals) are susceptible to sealevel rise, including New York, London, Hamburg and Shanghai, the strategy of Mounding will be one of many necessary adaptation responses to sea level rise that will be necessary in the short to medium term. In the longer term, such tactics may well be inadequate, especially if the optimistic target of holding warming below 2 degrees Celsius is exceeded.
Image: A rendering by MVVA of the berm and the rest of the Pier 5 uplands, Brooklyn, NYC.
1. Maria Rocha Buschel, ‘East River flood protection plan extended to 25th St’, Town & Village, 22 September 2016, https://town-village. com/2016/09/22/east-river-flood-protection-plan-extended-to-25thst/ more-13361
2. See http://big.dk/press/hud_224