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C A S E S T U DY

PRACTICE:

1. By committing to ‘Collect & Connect’ both water and communities, a polycentric regional system forms that distributes amenity and strengthens the resilience and lifestyle of smaller cities, like South City, for the benefit of the entire bay area.

Hassell

Resilient South City San Francisco

© Hassell+

By Richard Mullane Before it became known as the Bay Area’s ​‘industrial city’, South San Francisco was the kind of place where people could walk the length of the creek to swim in the bay. This proposal by the Hassell+ collective aims to make that possible again. The ‘Collect & Connect’ proposal for South San Francisco was part of a year-long design challenge and programme combining the creativity, knowledge and experience of residents, public officials and local, national and international design experts. The brief? To develop inventive, community-based solutions to sea level rise, severe storms, flooding and earthquakes. Located in San Mateo County, South San Francisco is the bay’s self-proclaimed ‘industrial city’. Major motorways and rail lines link the city to the region, but also divide the city and limit residents’ access to the bay. The South City watershed includes South San Francisco, as well as Colma, San Bruno and Daly City. Over the last half-century, residents have lost their historic connection to the water. Parts of the community suffer from flooding and their access to the shoreline is blocked by industry. And, like the entire Bay Area, San Mateo County is at risk from sea level and seismic events. Through extensive community engagement, research and an inclusive design process, the Hassell+ international collective mapped out a range of ways to make ‘South City’ stronger – as an exemplar of climate change resilience for the entire Bay Area. Together, these ideas make it easier to reach and enjoy the local

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2. The ‘Eco Water Park’ adjacent to the revamped water plant becomes a teaching tool and natural shoreline swimming pool. © Hassell+

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creek and bay, reduce the impacts of flooding, build resilience to sea level rise and return native flora and fauna to the area. Just as importantly, they make a healthy, active life near the water easier to imagine and achieve.

The ‘Collect & Connect’ strategy The overarching Collect & Connect strategy proposes a resilient, responsive network where creeks and streets could be redesigned as green linear corridors for water management and community gathering – transforming the regional structure from a vulnerable loop into a connected resilient network. By committing to collect and connect both water and communities, a polycentric

regional system forms that distributes amenity and strengthens the resilience and lifestyle of smaller cities, like South City, for the benefit of the entire bay area. The South City strategy proposes adaptation projects across the local watershed (mountain-side reservoirs, cemetery-side reservoirs and resilient schools) as well as new ‘slow streets’ for mobility and water – forming a resilience network for South City and neighbouring areas. This network enables better disaster response and water management, but also contributes to greater liveability and connectedness across the community at large.

Profile for Landscape, the journal of the Landscape Institute

Landscape Journal - Spring 2020: Building infrastructure in the age of climate crisis  

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