Elisa Iturbe, Thomas Day & Danielle Davis

Studio Peggy Deamer

Spring 2012


In the face of sea level rise, Coney Island is a testing ground for the spatial redefinition of political relationships. As water levels rise, existing residential towers prove to be the most physically resilient structures on the site despite the contradictory social vulnerability of their inhabitants. In order to close the gap between social and physical resilience, the towers become the framework for an inhabited wall that protects the remaining areas of dry land and contains the social infrastructure necessary for urban survival.  The result is a completely reimagined place: The Coney Islands. As the ocean infringes upon the city, land becomes more scarce. Private property goes into crisis. With all residences and social services relocated into the enormous, inhabitable, infrastructural wall, the remaining land, in its scarcity, cannot be valued. The real estate market is abandoned and citizens of each island devise a democratic social infrastructure in which the land in the center is consistently redistributed and dedicated to different uses over time. The free space within the wall’s boundary becomes a new urban type - a zone of democratic contestation where residents enact their citizenship by programming the space themselves.

social resilience

physical resilience






Over time, all low-level timber construction is taken by the water. Only the concrete towers of New Yorks' low-income housing remain. These structures become the anchors for the new inhabitable wall that now characterizes the Coney Islands.



In order to program the public space in the center of each island, parcels of land are constantly subdivided and redistributed according to various uses. Citizens of the Coney Islands institute a specific council that organizes popular elections where varying programs are voted in. The drawings below show three parcels with various uses, from public art to public baths, from performance space to protest space, activities change to reflect public need, requiring citizen engagment while pushing the public realm to the forefront of societal organziation.