Overall Regional Approach


The Bay Area is a place of natural beauty, richness, and resource. For centuries, it has been inhabited by those taking advantage of its sheltered waters, from early native settlement, to the gold rush, to modern times. These development patterns and lifestyles have both helped generate, and have left the Bay vulnerable to the climate stresses it feels today – sea level rise and storm flooding – drought and wildfires – earthquakes and liquefaction. And at the same time, this growth has been the source of many of the urban challenges that we know now today – declining ecology – massive congestion and pollution – strained infrastructure bringing flows from far away – and an affordable housing crisis.

We propose that in order to create a more resilient, sustainable, and equitable Bay, urban stresses and climate stresses must be thought of as one – and in order to work on these issues, we must break the traditional silos of city-making – thinking of the Bay as a Social Ecosystem, one where, rather than working as opposing forces, ecology, people, infrastructure, and mobility work together, as self-reinforcing systems. For our regional approach, we propose a series of bay-wide strategies that can work in concert to build a more resilient bay:

The Bay’s once prominent creek system, a balanced machine for stormwater management and wildlife movement, has been culverted, narrowed, and buried over decades – and is now showing itself again, as areas of high flood risk and liquefaction. Can we naturalize and re-center communities around new Hyper-Creeks, helping to manage stormwater while providing firebreaks, wildlife corridors, and room for the Bay to grow?

The car-culture of the 20th century has rendered vast swathes of the Bay impermeable, preventing aquifer recharge and limiting use to parking. As autonomous vehicles are adopted, can we peel back decades of paved-over surfaces, improving water absorption and fighting drought, while providing much needed space for affordable housing as part of a Green Grid?

Traffic has increased by 80% in the last 10 years, and traditional, heavy transit is difficult to reach and costly to upgrade. Can we re-connect the Bay by using the assets we have, creating flexible New Links by enhancing the Bay Trail, expanding ferry service, and transforming roadways into efficient routes for collective transit and density?

Currently slated for tidal marsh restoration, many of the Bay’s iconic salt ponds will be under threat from sea level rise and lack of sediment flow. Can we re-think these area as a Living Edge, providing space both for nature and water management but also for local production of energy, food, and badly needed housing?

The Bay Area is dependent on vulnerable large-scale infrastructure systems - its drinking water, electricity and food imported across long-distances at great expense.  Can we modernize and decentralize the Bay’s water and power supplies into a local Infra-Cloud, providing redundancy, sustainability, and integration with community?

In light of climate change and sea level rise, can we not just save the Bay – but can we grow the Bay, for nature, for people, and for a changing climate?

Overall Regional Approach

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BIG + ONE + Sherwood

The BIG + ONE + Sherwood Team is co-led by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), One Architecture + Urbanism (ONE), and Sherwood Design Engineers (Sherwood). The team also includes experts from Moffat & Nichol, Nelson Nygaard, Strategic Economics, and The Dutra Group. The Team brings together significant international experience in Denmark, the Netherlands, and the Bay Area with a variety of experience in designing spaces that are vulnerable to climate events by understanding a region’s economic, political and social environment.

The Team is founded on a shared belief in the power of well-designed...

The BIG + ONE + Sherwood Team is co-led by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), One Architecture + Urbanism (ONE), and Sherwood Design Engineers (Sherwood). The team also includes experts from Moffat & Nichol, Nelson Nygaard, Strategic Economics, and The Dutra Group. The Team brings together significant international experience in Denmark, the Netherlands, and the Bay Area with a variety of experience in designing spaces that are vulnerable to climate events by understanding a region’s economic, political and social environment.

The Team is founded on a shared belief in the power of well-designed spaces that are connected to their contexts - ecologically, economically, and socially - and overall play a transformative role in the cities where they are located. With a collective commitment to embrace the interconnected, rich, and diverse set of human and non-human ecosystems that comprise the Bay Area, the BIG + ONE + Sherwood Team looks at the city as a Social Ecosystem – one where we can proactively design the links between nature, and culture, between people, and their environment.

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