Energy & Sustainability Science Technology
Designs to deal with the rising tides

The terrific blog Inhabitat has an intriguing article about the winning entries in the Rising Tides competition, wherein entrants came up with ways to deal with what could be a 55″ rise in the San Francisco Bay waters in the next century.

From Inhabitat’s recap:

Another mind-boggling solution to the high-water mark is Folding Water, by Kuth Ranieri Architects. The proposal is an alternative to the traditional barrier dike: this one placed in the middle of the bay, maintaining current water levels with a series of pump walls and artificial estuaries. It looks invisible: reminiscent of what we hope our future impact to be: undetectable.

The competition ended up with 6 winners sharing a $25,000 prize, and there were a handful of Honorable Mentions highlighted as well. The whole thing — the competition, the plethora of entries, the thoughtfulness and cleverness of the entries — was a great reminder to me that makers hold the key to surviving the next 100 years and beyond.

12 thoughts on “Designs to deal with the rising tides

  1. Perhaps all that ‘clever’ energy could have been used in designs to prevent the rising tides and thereby solve the problem in the first place. How many countries around the world could embark on such high cost, high tech, solutions. Lets concentrate on low energy transport and living. Drinking water purification and conservation. Feeding our world rather than creating polution.

  2. I’m not including my email with this because I don’t like hate mail. Watch this video and listen to what he says:

    Isn’t it interesting how scientists proclaiming the end of the world as we know it 30, 50, 150 years ago look like such fools? The Chicken Littles of our time are the Global Warming crowd and they will certainly look just as foolish in hindsight. It is a religious issue to them, which is the greatest irony of all.

  3. The only glaring problems with these ” solutions” are that they assume unlimited funding, a dictatorship and a few minor changes in the laws of physics. One of the tide solutions, favored by make apparently, assumes you have somewhere to pump a nearly infinite amount of seawater, the energy and machinery to do it (im sure THAT wouldnt harm the environment at all!) and gods personal checkbook. And that is one of the more Sane appearing “solutions”.

    This reminds me of the “affordable housing design” contest a few years ago where architects around the country submitted designs. The only affordable one was an netry suggesting mass produced homes built of aluminum and inexpensive materials that were mobile…….. think about it. The winning solution was a compartmental dwelling system. You bought the base module..for $40,000 which consisted of a 20×20 or so combined living room,bedroom , bathroom,kitchen. then you could buy other modules to add on! for only.. 40k a pop. Im sure the homeless would have bought them in droves! (As opposed to the $9,000 mobile homes they already couldnt buy on the $10,000 lots they couldnt buy….)

  4. Folding water makes zero sense. I have never heard of a ‘pump wall’, but unless that design is pumping water from the structure to a reservoir on land, that design will not alter the water level.

    I hope they didn’t get a slice of the $25k just for some decent 3D design.

  5. Any time you hold one of these contests, you get a mix of people with good solid practical engineering plans, and some pie-in-the-sky artsy design people who know how to make stuff look good but have no concept of how to build something that works.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for making stuff looks good, but that’s secondary to making it *work*.

    The “folding water” is out of the design camp. All highminded concept, no basic understanding of “where does the water go? How much equipment and energy is needed to pump it? What happens when the tide comes in?”

    The “Bay Arc” design, on the other hand, is potentially brilliant. It recognizes, like the Thames Barrier project does, that high water is only a problem at high tide or during a tidal surge, so a temporary solution works great. Also, SF Bay has a natural choke-point, so it makes sense to build infrastructure there rather than building seawalls and dikes all up and down the bayshore. Assuming they’ve done the stress analysis on their tension membrane correctly (and it looks like they have), it’s elegant, durable, and probably ridiculously cheap.

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Sometimes helpful editor and digital media director at MAKE and CRAFT.

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