Analogue Sustainability: 'The Climate Refugees of San Francisco,' by Rosa Prichard
The project is sited on Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay. The scheme tackles the Californian paradox of too much vs too little water. While the area is in a state of drought, San Francisco Bay is still at risk of flooding both from seasonal heavy rainfall and rising sea levels. The project is an inhabited flood defence wall that wraps around the island, housing those displaced by rising sea levels in the bay. A field condition of maize is planted over the island to draw out the radiation remaining from the island’s naval occupation. The island becomes a self-sustaining system, where analogue technologies that hark back to industrial mechanisms are used. The island offers a celebration of a more simple and natural way of life, in contrast to that of San Francisco and Silicon Valley.
Sustainable systems of water purification and energy production become central to the building. The burning of the maize provides bio-fuel while rain water catchment provides water. Even in California - a region prone to draught - enough rain water can be harvested and stored throughout the year, and enough energy can be harnessed from bio-fuels to provide for the proposed 2000 inhabitants of the island. The process of natural water purification is articulated through the architecture of the wall, creating a spectacle of water.
The building acts as a sanctuary where climate refugees can mourn the loss of their home while also reassessing their values and the realities of climate change - how can we be more efficient with our resources - using them to improve our own lives without depleting them? The inhabitants will develop an understanding and an inherent respect for our most precious resources - water and energy - that they can take back with them to the mainland.
The project seeks to move away from the understanding of sustainability as something that constrains us; merely something that we ‘ought‘ to do, to something creative, generous and genuinely life enhancing. Through this new proposed system, we still learn how to use resources efficiently, but we also learn to sanctify and celebrate them. The building becomes a cathedral to our precious resources, where nothing is taken for granted; not a cubic mm of water and joule of energy is wasted. All is reintroduced into the interconnected virtuous cycle of the island.
Check out the image gallery for Analogue Sustainability's complete presentation.