Set in the San Francisco Bay Area this project explores a type of dwelling designed in response to changing climates and rising tidal activity near coastal populations. This coastal area, like other populated coastal areas around the globe, is susceptible to natural disasters and can produce great challenges for modern-day humanity. Occurrences such as flooding, hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tornados, or rising tides are a difficult reality for many people that live across the globe. The idea of the project arises in its ability to develop harmony with the environment. Its users are constantly in touch with the seascape and coastal landscape. These structures ebb and flow as the tide and react to foreseen environmental challenges.
The San Francisco Bay as we know it is topographically young. Before the last ice age 18,000 years ago the bay and its coastal surroundings were once hills and valleys between the ocean and what is now the city of San Francisco. As the ice age ended about 5-10,000 years ago, sea levels began to quickly rise and form what is todays California’s outlying coast. If we were to fast-forward this scenario to the near future, as the sea may rise several centimeters a year, what can be done for our newly built environment?
The basic design of the structure uses a similar technology of the mobile offshore drilling units or exploratory platforms, though smaller in scale. The dwellings are designed to move from place to place and then anchor themselves by deploying the legs to the bottom of the bay, estuary, or lagoon using a rack and pinion gear system on each leg. This enables the dwellings to adjust their height as needed or as desired by the occupants. If the tidal action changes, the dwelling can retract its legs and change location. The water dwellings are positioned to create a certain density, and as more structures emerge or move, the densities change. A floating dock weaves around the dwellings; each dwelling has an adjustable gangway which bridges the dwelling to the dock. The dwellings have a retractable platform for ease of access to the water and for proper mooring capability. The spherical roof structure provides ample surface area to create electricity via integrated photovoltaic panels for domestic needs.
This case study explores a simple dwelling within a small neighborhood. The design concept can change for different lifestyles, programs and evolve to accommodate a wide range of communities. The challenge of architecture is how well we can adapt when space and time change.