This project is study of a unique place in the American landscape that appeals to my vernacular taste and sense of style and order.

The cottages at Ocean Beach (NJ), some might say, are nothing more than oversized trailers. They are laid out in a symmetrical grid in three units, with the democratic and institutional sounding names Unit I, II, III, that total over 2,000 cottages. The streets, still made up of sand in Unit III, adds to the sparse and strong sense of place.

Photographing there in the off season allows me to de-contextualize the cottages from their vacation purpose. From a formal perspective, color, form and spatial relationships are studied. Here color helps to create individuality among uniformity in the architectural landscape.

Unfortunately, Ocean Beach was one of the hardest hit when Superstorm Sandy made landfall in late October, 2012.  90% of the ocean facing cottages at were destroyed and have since been demolished. Many more were destroyed from the inside by standing water when the ocean and bay waters met on the thin barrier island. As the project was completed before the storm my initial instinct was that I didn’t want to document the post-storm landscape. Not having access for two months helped change my mind and better understanding the historical importance, too.

Gone though was the quiet and solitary work process I had come to love.  Now the place was bustling with homeowners, police patrols, curious day-trippers, demolition, construction, and utility companies. And gone was the feeling of time standing still at Ocean Beach.  I guess it’s true, nothing lasts forever!

© Douglas Ljungkvist. Specially for Bleek Magazine.

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