Stilt City is an art and community space rebuilt in a vacant bungalow in Rockaway Park, New York, flooded by Superstorm Sandy.

It was born out of a belief that artistic vision is essential to communities after crisis. These in-between moments straddling past and future are are the most potent for making visionary propositions on how to rebuild, reshape and transform future trajectories towards a more socially, economically and environmentally sustainable world. Stilt City's mission is to provide a space to experiment with radical ideas and alternative social and economic structures at the intersection of art, community, and urban development

Stilt City is simultaneously an effort to salvage one of Rockaway's iconic beach bungalows and to revision it to be more resilient to future floods. Focusing on low-impact design features, the re-build strategy offers alternatives for housing that cannot elevate to the adjusted Base Flood Elevation.

It's founded on a long history of grassroots collaborative projects by brooklyn-based artist Robyn Renee Hasty, working with Jaklitsch / Gardner Architects. Informed by the DIY movement and autonomous spaces seen across many cities and cultures, Stilt City intends to straddle a nebulous zone between private residence and art center that will be shaped from the ground up by its relationships with the Rockaway community. It aims to cultivate a participatory environment where open dialogue builds thoughtful response to local issues.

The core element of Stilt City's programming is a 1-2 month live-work residency for artists based in New York City's 5 boroughs to develop, show and discuss new bodies of work. In addition to the residency program, Stilt City will host an open-studio, art exhibitions, outdoor sculpture installation, performance and community gatherings. 


About the Architecture

The Stilt City collaboration has provided “the opportunity to demonstrate resilient design that preserves the existing character of the Rockaways,” says J/GA principal Stephan Jaklitsch. “Design has the potential to act or counteract to repair the social fabric … we had to frame the term ‘resiliency’ and understand that it is about social vulnerability as much as it is about the built environment,” adds J/GA principal Mark Gardner. “We are able to influence the urban and social fabric in a positive way by opening the structure as much as possible to engage the community,” concludes Jaklitsch.  

The design created for Stilt City implements low-cost resilient features that will help mitigate future flood damage. “Because there was no money to raise the structure – we had to devise a different strategy to address future potential floods so we focused on low impact design alternatives,” says Jaklitsch. Some of these low-impact alternatives include the replacement of hardscape with porous materials that will aid in natural drainage and reduce erosion; installation of mechanical equipment above the first story; and use of marine-grade plywood that provides resistance against mold and water damage. The unique sloped roof is the most prominent architectural shift that accommodates a lofted living area to allow storage of items during a flood; it extends over the front porch to create a canopy and theatrical-like frame or stage. A new roll-up door opens the façade to the street and can remain open for enhanced visibility and accessibility during open studio sessions, exhibits and community programs, as well as to accommodate large sculpture and installation pieces. The exterior cladding is intended to change and evolve over time with contributions from the artists in residence so that the building itself will become an installation within the community—showcasing a collaboration of many skill-sets, many visions, and many hands.   


About Robyn Renee Hasty

Robyn Renee Hasty is an interdisciplinary artist exploring cycles of crisis, revolution and transcendence affecting how we build our emotional landscapes and social structures. Her practice includes photography, printmaking, sculpture and a long history of immersive collaborative projects that attempt to whimsically and critically reimagine our world. In the past she has floated down 1,000 miles of Mississippi river with the Miss Rockaway Armada, travelled 15,000 miles across the U.S. taking Wet Plate Collodion portraits of people living off-the-grid, and created kinetic sculptures in the Arizona desert that would slowly collapse. She has received fellowships from the Jerome Foundation, PEW Center for Art and Heritage and The Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture. Her work has been featured in The New York Times and on NPR. She is currently an artist-in-residence at Pioneer Works Center for Art and Innovation in Red Hook, Brooklyn.

For more information about Robyn Renee Hasty, please visit www.robynhasty.org.


About Jaklitsch/Gardner Architects

Jaklitsch / Gardner Architects (J/GA) is an award-winning, up and coming, New York City-based architecture and design studio with an expertise in buildings and interiors, furnishing and objects. Over the firm’s 16 year history, J/GA is known for its residential homes and interior design work, many times for repeat clients; its industrial design products include a Terrain Vase available at the MoMA Store, designed a one quarter table chair, and a NYC bike rack; their urban design includes an intermodal solution for a Chicago parking garage and a proposal to integrate pedestrians into the auto-centric Holland Tunnel entrance and exit ramps in Manhattan called Tunnel (Re)Visions; and the firm has conceived institutional work for a Public Library in South Korea as well an Art Center in Ireland. J/GA built the ground-up Marc Jacobs Flagship store in Tokyo and has provided the brand architectural and interior design direction for 15 years. J/GA is currently working on an historic estate house in the Hudson Valley, a new residential home in Rhinebeck, NY and a honey bee facility and women’s education center in Dodoma, Tanzania.

The studio’s diverse selection and most noteworthy projects can be found in Stephan Jaklitsch: Habits, Patterns, Algorithms, written by Stephan Jaklitsch and Mark Gardner. J/GA’s work has been exhibited widely and featured in numerous publications, including The New York Times, Time Magazine, Wall Street Journal, Architectural Digest, Wallpaper, Elle Décor, Azure, Hinge, Frame, and Surface.

The Firm’s Principals, Stephan Jaklitsch and Mark Gardner, are actively involved in all stages of every project and operate under the principle that architecture and the built environment possess the ability to communicate collective values, provide relevance and create meaning through the experience of a place. They take the lead with research and investigations to develop an appropriate response to the unique needs of each project with sensitivity to context, materiality, form, space, light and sustainability goals.

For more information on Jaklitsch / Gardner Architects, please visit www.jaklitschgardner.com