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Co-creating solutions for a better urban living

May 04, 2016

Red Hook residents in their neighborhood after Hurricane Sandy. Source: Justin Lane

More than 600 million people call the world’s coastal cities home, by 2100 that number will likely rise to more than a billion. These coastal cities like Red Hook in Brooklyn have to face different challenges: Growing populations, the pressures of economic development, homogenization, overcrowding and excessive demands on infrastructure. Climate change presents a new menace to coastal cities and therewith rising seas and higher storm surges will cause periodic or even permanent floodings that could be devastating.

Watch this video to learn more about the special challenges of Red Hook:

That was why the participants of the Creator Space™ tour stop in New York City in 2015 worked on the question “How can we revitalize Red Hook’s built environment to invite people to work, play, and experience better urban living?” The focus was on finding solutions that would improve the quality of life in the New York neighborhood of Red Hook also serving as a case study relevant to other coastal cities around the globe. The event pulled together a wide variety of stakeholders with extraordinary passions for this cause – Red Hook residents, local businesses, artists, scientists and engineers – and engaged them in a multi-day co-creative exercise. The goal of those rich discussions was to develop a plan for implementing the best of the ideas.

Some of the solutions resulting from the Creator Space tour stop New York City are now identified in the interactive white paper “Co-creating solutions for urban neighborhoods in coastal cities: A look at Red Hook, Brooklyn, NY”.

The first idea is to establish a network of green corridors. These corridors are an opportunity to transform and reinvigorate neighborhoods like Red Hook by enhancing circulation, absorbing or channeling runoff from rainstorms, and enabling the growth of vegetation. A coastal park could provide a softer edge that offers views and recreation for Red Hook’s residents as well as protection against storm surges and rising sea levels.

In addition a Center for Job Training and Human Services could be established to improve the access to information, education and services for unemployed members and integrate them more in the community. The public housing in Red Hook could also be rethought and renovated to make it more energy-efficient and resilient against floods. At least the design and implementation of a model block could encapsulate shared goals for living in a sustainable, equitable, and resilient community and serve as a template for development in Red Hook and beyond.