Volatile Ground – Subterranean SF

The volatility of the ground in San Francisco also provides an opportunity for inventive tactics for intervention within the existing urban fabric. Statistics that show that in the next 30 years there is a 2-1 chance of a major quake destroying much of the city (as in 1906). The city’s poor infrastructure and the presence of what im calling “volatile structures”   multistory buildings built before the structural code changed in 1973 – 65,000 people live/work in these structures.

“According to a recent study, a major earthquake could shut down all or parts of the present system for up to two years. It’s hard to imagine that after an earthquake we will have any major systems left”

The map shows the overlap between these sites and current abandoned buildings, a series of which could then be used as “injection points” (negative volumes in the earth) into the subterranean city through subtraction and demolition of the urban fabric between these  injection points, new structures are able to calcify and grow.

In a sense, the earth pulls these volumes into its core, demolishing them in order to create a new city beneath its surface. Through destruction, we are able to create. This could be seen as an anti density tactic for the surface level as well as a method of entry into the underground that would  act as a tactic to a create stronger narrative between the surface and the subterranean proposal.

In addition, new building and construction methods,  would surely be required to implement these ideas at an urban scale. Existing typologies such as the subway entrance could be transformed from dark infrastructural portals to functional monuments into the new subterranean city.

Strict historic preservation regulations adds another layer to the difficulty to accommodating growth in a city already holding the highest housing prices in the nation. Almost the entire downtown region, for example, has been deemed a historic conservation district, an inconvenient location that has most likely stunted the vertical growth of the city so far.  How can we liberate ourselves from the historic and environmental regulations of the city while also relieving pressures of future urban density?

Predictions state that the city, bounded by water on three sides, will reach 969,000 people by 2035 — a nearly 20 percent jump above today’s 815,400[1]. The challenge of accommodating this rising population is intensified by a strong preservationist ethos that has resulted in an implementation of stringent building regulations that effectively prohibits the upward growth and necessitate creative new methods of expansion. These images show a depiction of a future downtown San Francisco, a place of many historically significant buildings (such as the Transamerica Pyramid), that will receive the majority of population growth. Introduction of the subterranean city here creates a series of urban archipelagos.


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