Dune Meadow is an example of new development opening the door for the substantial improvement and restoration of long-neglected ecosystems. The designed framework serves as a prototype for the natural progression and recovery of sensitive, ecologically critical landscapes. Although initially seen as inherent challenges to the project, the environmental issues were re-defined by the Landscape Architect as opportunities to enhance the resilience of the site and improve the project both visually and experientially. In confronting a future of continued climate change, the design responds to a constantly shifting coastal system. 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.
The 5.5-acre oceanfront landscape was a tale of two ecologies. On the site’s North side was a one-acre tidal wetland, overgrown with ornamental and 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, FEMA 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 around the home, physically protecting, and connecting the building with its surrounding ecological context. Native plant species, harmonious with the tidal wetland and coastal dunes 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 and sand.
The dunescape was re-shaped using 5,000 cubic yards of reclaimed beach sand while lowering dangerously high dune forms created by the pre-existing house. A dilapidated elevated wood walkway was replaced with a winding beach path, allowing free passage to local fauna. A sea of American Beachgrass was used to re-stabilize the sand, and low masses of native Beach Plum and Northern Bayberry provided deeper root structure to strengthen the dune system.
Along the tidal wetland side of the property, a concrete driveway and retaining wall were removed by hand, carefully preserving native plant communities and habitat. Invasive plants were replaced with a diverse matrix of native wetland species to nourish the wetland for years to come. A grass walking path invites guests to experience the native plants firsthand, heightening the landscape experience and expanding the use of the property.
Landscape Architecture: LaGuardia Design Group
Project Location: Southampton, NY
LDG Team: Chris LaGuardia, Daniel Thorp, John Hamilton
– Ocean Home Magazine
– ASLA NY 2022 | Honor Award
Architect & Designer
– Blaze Makoid Architecture
– Halliday Greer Interior Design Contractors
– Loebs + Gordon Poolcraft
– Wright & Company Construction Inc.
– Whitmores Landscaping Inc.
– Precision Stone
– First Coastal
– Orsman Design Consultants
– Inter-Science Research Associates, Inc.
– Michael Stavaridis
– LaGuardia Design Group