News / December 2017
Wednesday 29 November 2017
HASSELL+ ‘collects and connects’ San Francisco bay communities to boost resilience

International design team HASSELL+ has re-imagined a series of San Francisco waterfront communities as vibrant, fundamentally public places primed for everyday use – but also vital for environmental and emergency needs.

The team's 'Collect and Connect' response for Resilient by Design Bay Area Challenge was inspired by the way the region’s communities used open spaces during both the 1906 San Francisco earthquake – one of the deadliest in US history – and the recent, devastating Northern California wildfires.

Taking their cue from these historic and current patterns of use, the team proposed creating a new network of parklands and public spaces to connect and collect people and water – both before and during times of disaster – within three communities: East Oakland, Redwood City and South San Francisco.

Speaking for the design team, HASSELL Principal Richard Mullane said, “Resilience to disaster is as much about how communities are able to organise themselves in urban space as it is about major infrastructure.

“Our approach to resilience focuses on creating quality public spaces and better communities.”

The Bay Area is at risk from both sea level rise and seismic events. In addition, many communities are grappling with high unemployment and poverty, a lack of regional governance, and limited or no access to shorelines due to industry.

Moreover, the area’s transport infrastructure – rail, freeways, ferries and walking and cycling trails – form loops that are increasingly congested. Like circuits, they then become more likely to break.

To address this, HASSELL+ envisions a network structure of green spaces, creeks and revived high streets that would serve as points of collection, connection and water management from the ridgeline to shoreline and across the bay via an enhanced ferry network.

“Recharged ‘connectors’ – streets and creeks – and new ‘collectors’ – responsive, adaptable open spaces – would become places for everyday gathering, big events and disaster assembly. Together, they could ultimately make the Bay Area more physically and socially resilient,” Richard explained.

The proposal also includes a digital platform giving Bay Area communities a say in the facilities they need most. “We want communities to design along with us, so together we’re coming up with meaningful, practical solutions that can be developed locally and shared regionally,” Richard said.

“From tool libraries to resilience education centres, our team has devised a range of places that could be hubs of community activity and genuine engagement,” he said.

“Our team is looking forward to hearing feedback from local communities and working with them and local authorities to bring some of our ideas to life.”

The proposals are open to public feedback until 1 December 2017, via Neighborland.

Read more articles for November 2017

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