Horseshoe Cove, located along the San Francisco Bay, is the historical site for a new highly visible public infrastructure project that proposes repair of the SF Bay ecosystem through specific native species farming and broad-based community involvement. By addressing the global challenge of rising tidal levels on a very local level, Bay Remediation Site 1 (BRS 1) creates a place for education, recreation and bio-production. Once a thriving estuary, the Horseshoe Cove site was more recently an unproductive, even desolate, parking lot cut off from the water by a mundane sea wall; a condition common to riparian sites in urban areas throughout the industrial world.
Research into small scale bio-remediation methods sparked the question of how such seemingly discrete and experimental practices could inform a larger landscape remediation strategy. Biological re-establishment practices, combined with tactics of large-scale industrial practice, are applied over the entire 6.3 acre site, to create a bio-remediation “farm”, or nursery, to address the regional problems of declining species diversity, water toxicity, and algal bloom common to all bay ecologies.
A fresh typology of evolving, productive landscape will accommodate the next century of gradual inundation: the new self-regenerative, “soft” infrastructure will function as a maintained production system which seeds other deteriorated bayside sites; while re-establishing natural processes halted by years of environmental disruption. A new, decentralized system emerges transforming sites of ecological trauma, by leveraging their untapped potential as a means for structured ecological remediation.
First, the existing sea wall boundary is demolished and its material is re-distributed to establish a blurred tidal edge. A ‘receptive’ littoral zone replaces the former boundary of ‘resistance’. The transformed site is then re-organized and stewarded through the implementation of a combined Eco-structure - Agri-structure, which includes land forms built from reclaimed seawall debris, modular low-impact access catwalks, and distribution and generation networks for water, power, and bio-products, all concentrated into a wetland eco-tone. Initially this large scale “plotted” nursery is focused on replenishing native eelgrass (Zostera marina), which is central to the establishment of other vital plant and animal communities in wetland ecosystems. In time, these plants and animals are the “products” of the eelgrass nursery.
The surplus production of BRS 1 is then exported to other deteriorated sites as part of a Bay-wide remediation scheme. These bio-products are the seed materials to catalyze secondary marginal BRS sites transforming them into new viable sites of production. BRS 1: Horseshoe Cove, as an original infrastructure, will then recede, while proactive ecologies on this initial site are allowed to proliferate. The “plot” nurseries will be reclaimed by the rising sea level and a thriving marine estuary re-established. The Cove is designed to remain in continual biological development beyond its export-phase, as a center for study and learning, an eco-tourist destination, exemplary of the unfinished first node in an engineered network of ecological remediation sites Bay-wide.
The re-establishment of this ecological process and its surplus relies upon community involvement and integrated educational programs – an intended relationship that connects public interest with the ecological mission of this constantly expanding and developing landscape. This participatory dynamic reframes the nature of “Public Works” as an “Open Work,” engaging beneficiaries, both economic, and ecologic, through human propagation, care and stewardship. BRS 1 is a site of exchange between multiple disciplines including marine biology, architecture, education, landscape, civil engineering, urban planning, and community leadership, all of which are leveraged to ensure creation of a successful and multi-valued landscape and architecture. The project reframes the idea of infrastructure –typically “hard”, manmade, disruptive, and costly – as an amalgam of smaller scale “soft” networks harnessing the potential of naturally occurring systems.