News / November 2019
Thursday 25 January 2018
HASSELL+ to work with South San Francisco communities to boost resilience

International design team HASSELL+ will ‘collect and connect’ communities in South San Francisco as part of their proposal for the Resilient by Design Bay Area Challenge.

The site allocation marks the next phase of Resilient by Design, a research and design project that has community members and public officials working together with local, national and international experts to tackle the challenges of climate change and ecological disaster around San Francisco Bay.

Located in San Mateo County, South San Francisco is the bay’s self-proclaimed ‘industrial city’. Major freeways and rail lines link the city to the region but also divide parts of the local area.

Over the last half-century, local residents have lost their historic connection to the water. Parts of the community suffer from flooding and have limited access to a shoreline blocked by industry. And, like the entire Bay Area, San Mateo County is at risk from sea level rise and seismic events.

“San Mateo County is the perfect testing ground for solutions that could unlock potential for shoreline communities around the entire Bay Area,” says Richard Mullane, principal at HASSELL, the Australian-based firm leading the HASSELL+ team.

Sites and programs co-designed with the local community

For the collaborative research phase of the competition, HASSELL+ 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.

Now the team has the opportunity to apply its ‘collect and connect’ tool kit to proposed sites in South San Francisco. At Colma Creek, HASSELL+ has imagined a new Shoreline Park. Meanwhile, Grand Avenue will become a vital community hub with a drop-in storefront people can visit during the design phase. 

The team’s design process will draw heavily on local voices and insights to ensure that design solutions – which will be presented in May – reflect the community’s needs. In addition to the drop-in centre, city residents will be able to access a digital platform to learn about adapting for resilience and get involved in decision making.

“We want communities to design along with us, so that together we’re coming up with meaningful, practical solutions that can be developed locally and shared regionally,” Richard says. 

“From tool libraries to resilience education centres, we’ve imagined a range of places and programs that could become hubs of community activity on the streets and shorelines of the Bay Area.”

“Our aim is to bring the communities of South San Francisco to the shoreline, re-connect them to the water through education about sea-level rise and climate change, and collect ideas for adaptive solutions.”

Designing better waterfront cities – a range of international perspectives

Since the challenge launched last May, it’s received an outpouring of support from elected officials across all nine counties in the Bay Area. San Mateo County Board of Supervisors President Dave Pine sees it as an opportunity to draw on the technical expertise of design teams, think creatively, and ultimately, create lasting change in the county.

“Addressing the challenge of sea level rise in San Mateo County will require bold and innovative community-based solutions,” Dave says. “The expertise brought by the HASSELL+ team will be an invaluable resource as we strive to create resilience and integrate our communities with a rapidly changing San Francisco Bay.”

The HASSELL+ collective includes leading designers from around the world: HASSELL, the only Australian-based studio on the shortlist, plus MVRDV, Deltares and Goudappel from the Netherlands, and Lotus Water, Hatch, Civic Edge, Idyllist and Page and Turnbull out of the Bay Area. 

The team – the most international in the challenge – understands designing for water, living with water and the immense potential waterfront places have for well-connected communities.

“Climate change is real; by the end of the century there will be a sea level rise of two metres,” says Nathalie de Vries, co-founder of Dutch firm MVRDV. “Bay Area communities respond to this challenge in a multi-disciplinary approach to upgrade their general resilience. We developed a flexible tool box for San Mateo, which helps the local community by revitalising public spaces that collect and connect people and water.” 

For more information on South San Francisco site and HASSELL+, visit the Resilient by Design Bay Area Challenge website.

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