Salty Urbanism: Sea Level Rise Adaptation Strategies for Urban Areas
Architect: Brooks + Scarpa, Florida Atlantic University, and University of Southern California
Owner: City of Ft. Lauderdale
Location: Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
Responding to studies indicating that 490 communities in major U.S. cities will be chronically flooded by 2100 due to climate change, the Salty Urbanism project introduces a new framework for urban design, particularly for vulnerable South Florida. Salty Urbanism embeds ecosystem services and adjusts to the increasingly salty conditions in the region, where limestone substrate introduces challenges not found in any other U.S. coastal location.
Exploring the possibilities where the city and water meet, the plan presents a methodical approach for creative development and takes its cues from the robust networks of biodiversity found in the concepts of reconciliation ecology. Having developed a number of toolboxes to provide the design framework, the team explores everything from building typologies to a salt-tolerant landscape palette.
"This is a series of toolboxes and frameworks giving each community a myriad of potential responses that could work for them as they work together." ~ Jury statement
In Fort Lauderdale—heralded as the “Venice of America” due to its 300 miles of coastline and industries that rely on interaction with the water—the team focused on the city’s North Beach neighborhood for its case study. The city faces flooding from a number of sources, among them costal storm surge and urban runoff, but it is troubled by nearly yearly 24 king tide events, a number predicted to rise to 120 in just 10 years. Situated just six feet above sea level, North Beach would experience irreversible impact if no adaptations were implemented.
Deploying the toolboxes, the case study balances stakeholder buy-in and political will through three scenarios spanning the next 10 to 60 years. Beyond an initial call to botanize the existing asphalt and focus on streetscape improvements in the immediate future, the scenarios range from conservative (implementation of a “green jacket” of living shoreline) to radical (a significant shift in land assembly and development of amphibious building), prompting in-depth conversations about how Fort Lauderdale and its residents can live with, on, and over the water.
Through ecologically based infrastructure that spurs functionality and future growth, Salty Urbanism provides critical survival strategies for a future destined to experience continued climate change and sea level rise.
"The nuanced, organic approach invites the community to really own a solution. These frameworks could be implemented in any community facing the dilemma of sea level rise." ~ Jury statement