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Tech Architects designed these floating villages that would withstand flooding in the San Francisco Bay Area

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A group of architects have designed an elevated park and floating villages for the Bay Area. The former will be realized.

A rendering of the design for Islais Creek, San Francisco. play

A rendering of the design for Islais Creek, San Francisco.

(BIG/ONE/Sherwood Design Engineers)

Like most US coastal regions, the San Francisco Bay Area is under threat from rising seas.

To make matters worse, researchers say that parts of the Bay Area are sinking, which could wipe out between 20 and 165 square miles of coastal land, along with the communities that live there.

Instead of fighting the rising tides, a group of architects and urban designers want locals to live in harmony with the Bay. In late 2017, they unveiled a regional design involving floating villages, an elevated park, tide barriers, a fast lane for buses, roads for autonomous electric vehicles, and more for the Bay Area.

Designers from the three firms — Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), One Architecture + Urbanism (ONE), and Sherwood Design Engineers — submitted a regional proposal that focused on three sites: an area in the South Bay, another near the Golden Gate Bridge, and an industrial area surrounding Islais Creek (located near the neighborhood of Bayview).

Out of the three sites, the City of San Francisco chose the designers to pursue their vision for Islais Creek, which calls for a new park and revamped pier. In mid-May, they will present their final plans to the city.

Take a look at the regional proposal — and the designs that will come to fruition near the creek — below.

The regional proposal centered on the San Francisco Bay.

The regional proposal centered on the San Francisco Bay. play

The regional proposal centered on the San Francisco Bay.

(Wikimedia Commons)

The designs were part of the Rebuild By Design: Bay Area Challenge, which asked architects and city planners to come up with urban design solutions to climate change.



It included three major components: a floating neighborhood in the South Bay, a series of tide barriers near the Golden Gate Bridge, and an elevated park with water-absorbent wetlands near Islais Creek.

A rendering of the design for the South Bay. play

A rendering of the design for the South Bay.

(BIG/ONE/Sherwood Design Engineers)

The city chose the firms to revamp an area surrounding Islais Creek, which is the only portion of the regional proposal that’s moving forward.



The conceptual plan for the South Bay proposed floating villages in an area that's today comprised of salt ponds.

Salt ponds, San Francisco Bay. play

Salt ponds, San Francisco Bay.

(lecates/Flickr)


The villages would include several platforms buoyed to the Bay floor. Houses and other structures would be built on top of these platforms.

The villages would include several platforms buoyed to the Bay floor. Houses and other structures would be built on top of these platforms. play

The villages would include several platforms buoyed to the Bay floor. Houses and other structures would be built on top of these platforms.

(BIG/ONE/Sherwood Design Engineers)

Residents would access the neighborhood by ferry from the mainland.



The village would withstand flooding, because the platforms would rise and fall with water levels, Jeremy Siegel, a senior designer at BIG, told Business Insider.

A rendering of the design for the South Bay. play

A rendering of the design for the South Bay.

(BIG/ONE/Sherwood Design Engineers)


To alleviate congestion, the development would also feature a transit loop designated for buses. Stations would connect to existing and new, more-dense housing and office developments.

A rendering of the design for the South Bay. play

A rendering of the design for the South Bay.

(BIG/ONE/Sherwood Design Engineers)


The second design, called Golden Shoals, calls for a regional tidal tidal barrier near the Golden Gate Bridge.

A rendering of the Golden Shoals design near the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco. play

A rendering of the Golden Shoals design near the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco.

(BIG/ONE/Sherwood Design Engineers)


The barrier would capture hydropower to allow its strategically-located tide gates to close during extreme storms.

A rendering of the Golden Shoals design near the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco. play

A rendering of the Golden Shoals design near the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco.

(BIG/ONE/Sherwood Design Engineers)


Finally, the third design at Islais Creek near Bayview — the one that will be realized — will transform an underused pier site and part of the I-280 freeway into a sky park, create a bike track, and provide a new home for a wastewater-treatment plant.

A rendering of the design for Islais Creek, San Francisco. play

A rendering of the design for Islais Creek, San Francisco.

(BIG/ONE/Sherwood Design Engineers)

The new park will rival the scale of Golden Gate Park.



The initial plan calls for giving more than 300 acres of shoreline back to Islais Creek. This will ideally improve biodiversity and water quality.

play

(BIG/ONE/Sherwood Design Engineers)

Pollution currently plagues the area around the creek.



Located near the Bayview neighborhood, the semi-abandoned pier at Islais Creek is currently hard for visitors to access and is in the 500-year flood zone.

Pier 90 in 2017, Islais Creek, San Francisco. play

Pier 90 in 2017, Islais Creek, San Francisco.

(Dllu/Wikipedia Commons)

Source: The Port of San Francisco



The public park will feature wetlands that will soak up excess stormwater, and encourage people to spend time along the water.

A rendering of the design for Islais Creek, San Francisco. play

A rendering of the design for Islais Creek, San Francisco.

(BIG/ONE/Sherwood Design Engineers)


Although the San Francisco Bay Area will not see floating villages anytime soon, Siegel said the design offers a vision of how the region can start to grapple with the effects of climate change, as well as how to create a relationship between communities, ecology, infrastructure, and the water.

Although the San Francisco Bay Area will not see floating villages anytime soon, Siegel said the design offers a vision of how the region can start to grapple with the effects of climate change, as well as how to create a relationship between communities, ecology, infrastructure, and the water. play

Although the San Francisco Bay Area will not see floating villages anytime soon, Siegel said the design offers a vision of how the region can start to grapple with the effects of climate change, as well as how to create a relationship between communities, ecology, infrastructure, and the water.

(BIG/ONE/Sherwood Design Engineers)

"Floating neighborhoods are the most resilient things you can imagine," he said.

"Many of our cities are coastal. Cities have historically developed along waterfronts, because that’s where trade happens. I think it’s going to be hard to abandon our cities. So I think the solution will be a combination of some places retreating, and in other places, creating [floating] resilient buildings."



The Bay Area is already seeing the consequences of sea-level rise, and the prospect of flooding is becoming more dire.

But the flooding problems don't end with seawater. San Francisco is also sinking into the ground at a rate of about 10 millimeters a year. play

But the flooding problems don't end with seawater. San Francisco is also sinking into the ground at a rate of about 10 millimeters a year.

(Richard Heyes/Flickr)


The photo below shows an inundated street on San Francisco’s eastern shoreline after a storm in January 2017.

Rudy Sales, center, stands in water from a king tide that flooded onto the Embarcadero in San Francisco, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017. play

Rudy Sales, center, stands in water from a king tide that flooded onto the Embarcadero in San Francisco, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017.

(AP)


According to researchers, there’s not much we can do to completely stop the flooding in the Bay Area, except for addressing the root cause by reducing carbon emissions.

Potrero Point, an industrial area near Islais Creek, San Francisco. play

Potrero Point, an industrial area near Islais Creek, San Francisco.

(Robert Burns/Flickr)


In the meantime, the Bay Area is figuring out ways to adapt its urban infrastructure to deal with the imminent consequences of climate change.

In the meantime, the Bay Area is figuring out ways to adapt its urban infrastructure to deal with the imminent consequences of climate change. play

In the meantime, the Bay Area is figuring out ways to adapt its urban infrastructure to deal with the imminent consequences of climate change.

(BIG/ONE/Sherwood Design Engineers)


The video below gives an overview of the regional proposal from BIG, Sherwood, and ONE: