The South Bay has for decades been the economic heart of the region, and responsible for much of the Bay’s growth. With thousands of acres of flood prone area, it is also emblematic of many of the region’s most challenging issues – from massive commuter congestion, to lack of affordable housing, to its patchwork of uncoordinated cities lacking a comprehensive plan. For the South Bay, we propose new forms of living and transit, taking advantage of flexible new transit technologies and underdeveloped areas – both mitigating the emissions that cause climate change while providing a framework for resilient growth.

New Links
Automated and electric vehicles allow for much more distributed transit. A new Vehicle Rapid Transit system transforms the highway network into an efficient loop for transit, connecting the South Bay locally and regionally. A transition to VRT requires very little capital investment compared to building new, dedicated modes of rail transit. Lanes of existing highway will be dedicated to buses and other shared vehicles that will serve new station stops along existing highway routes.

Green Grid
Last mile issues are resolved in part by the development of the green grid, which makes room for e-bikes, e-scooters, e-skates and light autonomous vehicles on pedestrian friendly streets. The large swaths of parking can be repurposed as green infrastructure that mitigates stormwater flooding, and for new housing developments. Connections to VRT stations will continue as spurs toward the Bay edge, providing corridors for growth that harken back to the historic patterns of Bay cities, from water to upland.

Living Edge
South Bay creeks terminating in the Bay form a vast network of sloughs, mudflats and tidal wetlands, weaving through the area’s extensive and iconic salt ponds. The South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project is the largest tidal wetland restoration project on the West Coast and aims to restore 15,200 acres of industrial salt ponds to a rich mosaic of tidal wetlands and other habitats, at great cost. However, tidal wetlands that cannot migrate upland to keep pace with sea level rise may be lost underwater – an issue made worse by lack of sufficient sediment flow. Can we be strategic about the way we invest in the edge, leaving room not only for nature, but for local food production, water rentention and treatment, energy generation, and badly needed affordable housing and connections to the water?

Productive ponds can begin as innovation test beds. Stormwater management, nutrient recovery for food production, energy storage through the management of tides, wind energy production, fabrication of materials needed for the new floating structures will provide ecosystem services and bring new jobs to the South Bay. These localized energy, materials and water flows will build resilience into the existing centralized infrastructure by providing increased redundancy and, as a result, reliability. Areas with easy access to deep water channels and ferry access can become nodes of density for resilient, floating villages – creating space for up to 75,000 units of housing, and a new lifestyle for the South Bay!


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South Bay Living

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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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