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Fig: 1 - Sea levels are rising at a high rate and a natural imbalance is created on Earth.


Our planet is getting warmer every day, due to increasing levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This global warming scenario has led to severe consequences for all life on earth. Climate change is the most daunting challenge facing us right now, as its impacts are seen on the built environment and its people. It is one of the main causes of sea-level rise observed from the 20th century.

The rise in sea levels is threatening the existence of many coastal communities across the globe. This puts the many high population-density coastal areas at risk. Sea level rise may cause flooding, shoreline erosion, and storm-related hazards. In urban centres, rising seas can threaten the infrastructure ripping the economic, cultural, and built environment of the region.

How can we enable the survival of coastal cities?

Fig: 2 - Coastal CIties are huge financial and tourist centres around the world and their survival is threatened.


The built environment dominates the physical setting of coastal regions. So, it is not a surprise that the construction industry is responsible for the highest amount of emissions released into the atmosphere all over the globe, ultimately causing sea levels to rise. At the same time, the built environment in coastal regions plays a very important role in supporting communities in the event of disasters. To reinforce the survival of coastal cities, we need to break this vicious cycle.

Progress is inevitable, but there is a need to proceed with caution. Coastal cities are popular settings and so often consist of huge investments on economic, physical, and social fronts. The ongoing sea-level rise can subsequently lead to the submergence of these places, putting the investments at risk.

We need to explore our options of creating new coastal fabric that can adapt and respond to these threats while suffering minimal damage.

Fig: 3 - Waterfront developments manage to attract many visitors for leisure and recreation purposes. (Credits: Antonio Ponte)


Waterfront developments are the heart and soul of coastal places, grounds for public interaction. But their precarious location calls for disaster-resistant structures. We need to find out ways to keep the design of waterfront construction relevant in these circumstances.

Brief: The design challenge is to create a resilient urban centre in a coastal region. The pavilion designed must be capable of withstanding harsh conditions in the event of a disaster.

The pavilion must consist of a marketplace, food courts, green spaces, and so on, all under one roof. Multi-functional spaces will attract a variety of users to the centre, enabling social gatherings.

The aim of the design is to explore a new way of incorporating disaster-proof designing into city planning. The way the construction will behave in the event of a calamity must be anticipated. The design must be a transient and resilient, quality parcel of the public domain.


Resilient: The construction on the site must be able to withstand events such as seasonal floods or storms.

Multi-functional: Different activities are to be accommodated in this area so flexibility in the spatial design must be achieved.

Harmony: The design must establish some harmony or connection with the surroundings while having outstanding features.

Context: The design must respond to the (existing) site conditions. The wider socio-cultural, economic, and environmental settings are to be considered in the design approach.


The United States has a vast coastline of which many prominent cities lie on shorelines. These cities are financial centres for trade and other businesses, contributing extensively to the socio-economic development of the country. Sea level is constantly on the rise and in the future, there is a 66% probability that many California cities will be under the threat of submergence.

The site is located in San Francisco, California, United States. San Francisco is one of the most prominent coastal cities in the world. There has been a steady rise of 2.0mm per year. The shoreline is dominated by ports and ground parking areas but these waterfront properties have the potential to become popular public destinations.

The site is in the BayFront Park, surrounded by ground parking on one side. The waterfront property is vacant and barren. It is located beside Chase centre and can be accessed by Terry A Francois Boulevard. The San Francisco Bay Trail goes along the coastline.

Site area = 4054 sq.m
Height restriction = 8 metres
Maximum Built Up Area = 4054 sq.m
Ground coverage = 30%
Coordinates = 37°46'08.1"N 122°23'08.5"W