A map of the Golden Gate International Exposition (sponsored by Shell), held on Treasure Island in the 1930's.
Most of our readers are probably familiar by now with the latest worldwide trend in city building - the ecocity. Lately it almost seems as if plans for new ecocities (and eco-neighborhoods) are popping up like mushrooms after the rain - which we must admit makes us happy. The latest proposal (drawn up by the Arup firm) aims to breathe new life into tiny and neglected Treasure Island, located between San Francisco and Oakland, by rebuilding it as a sustainable community for 13,500 people. Groundbreaking is scheduled for 2009.
Treasure Island in its heyday.
Originally built for the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition, the man-made island was constructed out of dredged sea bottom poured into rock walls and covered with soil. The island then served as a Naval base from WWII until the 1990's. Presently it houses a few residents, and the remains of the base, and the considerable pollution that it left behind (the former base has been declared a Superfund site).
Treasure Island today with San Francisco in the background: Watch this space.
With this much baggage on such a tiny island, it took a good bit of chutzpah to reconceptualize the island as an ecological development, of all things. But that's exactly what the city and Arup have in mind - a new downtown for the island, complete with shiny skyscrapers and ferry service to the mainland, small, pedestrian-friendly blocks and plenty of housing within walking distance of services, as well as bike lanes for easy cycling around the island.
The new map of Treasure Island.
But, as usual, the folks at Arup didn't stop at applying new urbanist principles, they decided to go all the way. Streets will be angled in order to maximize solar energy for heating, cooling and lighting and protect residents from the wind. Every single building built on the island will have LEED Gold certification. About half of the island's 400 acres will be set aside for open spaces, including an urban farm to supply organic local food to the residents, constructed wetlands to purify storm water runoff, and a restored natural forest ecosystem. All food scraps and grass clippings produced on the island will be composted for use by the farm. Electricity will come from a combination of solar (drawn from solar panels on the island's buildings), wind and biogas, and possibly also tidal energy.
Our hats are off to these guys, they know how to think big. We can't wait until ecocities like this one begin to fill up with people and take on a life of their own.