Dune Meadow is an example of careful design that improves and restores a long-neglected ecosystem. The design serves as a prototype for the natural progression and recovery of ecologically critical landscapes.

On the North side was a one-acre tidal wetland, overgrown with invasive plants. To the South, were four acres of eroded dunes, degraded by rapidly intensifying coastal storms. The 60-year-old house created a manmade barrier catching windblown sand, resulting in a twenty-foot-high unstable dune structure that required immediate intervention.

Given the floodplain, the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s guidelines drove the residence 12′ above grade, protecting it from future storms, but disconnecting the building from the landscape. To bridge the two elements, fill spoils from the house excavation were re-purposed, physically protecting, and connecting the building with its surrounding ecological context. The landscape designers chose native plant species throughout this property, allowing the tidal wetland and coastal dunes to merge with sliding stone walkways and outdoor spaces that subtly terrace down to meet existing grades. On the ocean-side of the residence, a vanishing edge pool disappears into a sea of beach grass.

The dunescape was re-shaped using 5,000 cubic yards of reclaimed beach sand while lowering dangerously high dunes created by the pre-existing house. A sea of American Beachgrass was used to re-stabilize the sand, and low masses of native Beach Plum and Bayberry provided deeper root structure to strengthen the dune system.

Along the tidal wetland, a concrete driveway and retaining wall were removed by hand, preserving native plant communities and habitat. The team replaced invasive plants with a matrix of native wetland species to nourish the wetland for years to come.

The solutions are a starting point for the dunes and marshes to thrive as self-sustaining features, protecting the home while expanding and contracting, as the adjacent context shifts beneath them.

Architecture offices involved in the design: Blaze Makoid Architecture

Location: Southampton, NY

Design year: 2017-2021


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