Alviso is a neighborhood at the north end of San Jose where it meets the southern end of the San Francisco Bay and borders the cities of Milpitas, Sunnyvale, and Santa Clara. According to the Resilient by Design Review, Alviso is the lowest point in the San Francisco Bay Area at 13 feet below sea level and through 20 Century, Alviso has been victim to severe flooding most recently in 1983 and 1995.

Our research shows that key adaptation challenges for the Alviso are sea level rise, storm surge, tidal flooding, aging infrastructure and liquefaction. Alviso, which is in danger of sea rise, is home to many billions of dollars of infrastructure and assets including housing, large business parks, major wastewater treatment plants and freeways. How can we design a shore zone that allows people to live safely with sea level rise? How can we protect these infrastructures from the rising water level? How to creates a sense of ownership for the communities?

My design concept can work together at multiple scales to address these issues.

Floating Community

The solutions to the Alviso environmental challenges will come from living in the edge. To protect the city from sea level rise risk, we proposed floating neighborhoods with “Lily Pad”. “Lily pad” is a concept that proposed to protect from the flood. It is an idea of lifting the landscape between houses and creating a zone of protection. If the flood comes, the water will come through but these Lily Pad will provide a safe place for the residences for the near household. It is not only a series of raised flood barriers, but also disguised as internal courtyards double up as social spaces. The floating community will be self-sufficient and have the capability to deal with waste water and generate environmental-friendly energy. The floating community includes a eco-lab which employees new clean technologies and materials and take advantage of the nature resources, including solar, wind, wave energy and rain water collection. The community integrates floating greenhouse, crop field oyster field, etc. The lab itself, together with the expanded community not only deal with the water management, food production, clean energy and ecosystem restoration issues. But also help the community with the education and job issue.

Canal System

In the next 50 years, not only the house, but also the roads, trails, highways, bus and Bart station will be flooded as well. The canal system is built for flood control and transportation. The function of canal to divert the rising sea water is significant to protecting the communities as well as the original transportation structures from rising sea water. And at the same time, the canal itself provides another transportation mode, the ferry service, which is a supplement to the original transportation system. Besides, having canal built inland provides habitat corridors for marine lives and also a crucial opportunity in Alviso to connect the communities with the Bay, the environment they lived in, and gives the residents a sense of ownership and identity.

Coastal Corridor (Tidal Marshes & Wetland Levee )

Improving vulnerability to Sea Level Rise gives us an important opportunity to rethink costal habitat corridors and reconnect costal plants and animals’ corridors to the bay. There’s an opportunity in Alviso to restore the wetland which was converted to agriculture development and large scale salt-pond and give back the habitats to the marine life. The marshes not only function as a buffer of the rising sea but also provides habitats to marine lives.