Mahesh Basantani

SAN FRANCISCO IN 2108? - The Hydro-Net Vision of the Future

by , 03/03/08

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San Francisco is already one of the greenest cities in the US, but check out this wild new concept from IwamotoScott Architects to completely remake the city into an ecotopia by 2108.

The design, which is as visually stunning as it is thought-provoking, recently won the History Channel’s City of the Future competition. It’s a full-scale urban system that combines the most innovative green technologies with San Francisco’s unique microclimate and geologic conditions, to produce a compelling vision for the future. Hydro-Net, as the project is known, will bring the lovely city-by-the-bay (which many Inhabitants call home) squarely into the 22nd Century with algae-harvesting towers, geothermal energy ‘mushrooms’, and fog catchers which distill fresh water from San Francisco’s infamous fog.


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Hydro-Net is perhaps the most remarkable, modern and futuristic concept ever envisioned for San Francisco – considering global warming and the hunt for alternative energy sources in the coming century. It is an extensive network of above ground and underground systems that fulfill infrastructural needs for the movement of people, water, hover-cars, and energy throughout the city.

This network would connect water, power collection, and distribution systems across the city, forming one giant super-system that would resemble seaweed and chanterelle mushroom in its form. The aquifer and geothermal sources beneath San Francisco would be utilized as the source of water and power, while ponds and “forests” of algae would produce hydrogen.

The walls of the network would consist of carbon nanotubes walls, which would store and distribute the hydrogen generated by algae. The hydrogen would in turn be used as fuel to run hover-cars in the underground tunnels. The network also includes fog catchers that harvest air moisture, ecotowers, and more. Sound crazy? Designers Lisa Iwamoto and Craig Scott, the partners of San Francisco-based design firm IwamotoScott, don’t think so, and frankly neither do we. The concept recently won the $10,000 grand prize for their entry in the City of the Future competition, organized by the History Channel.

+ IwamotoScott Architecture

+ IwamotoScott’s Flickr Pics of Hydro-Net

Via Laughing Squid


see more pics of Hydro-Net on Flickr >>

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25 Comments

  1. San Francisco To Be 100... December 15, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    [...] San Francisco has always had a reputation as an environmentally conscious city, however it has set its sights on becoming the greenest city in the country by turning 100% sustainable by 2020. The plan was announced by outgoing Mayor Gavin Newsom, who last week launched an initiative to make the city fully ‘green’ within a decade. Announced by Newsom during his speech at the completion of the Sunset Reservoir Solar Project, the project is the largest municipal solar facility in the state, and covers an area said to be the size of 12 football fields. While the plant has tripled the amount of solar energy made available to the state, Newsom is now aiming even higher. [...]

  2. Hydro-Net: San Francisc... March 18, 2008 at 10:02 pm

    [...] keeping with the water and hydrology theme of the past 10 days I found this post on the Inhabitat blog describing a Future City – San Francisco 2108, designed by architects IwamotoScott. There are some [...]

  3. San Fran Ecotopia 2018 ... March 17, 2008 at 6:07 am

    [...] Bijzonder is de integratie van de verschillende energieproducerende systemen met de openbare ruimte in het zogeheten Hydro-net. Door slim gebruik te maken van de baai, aquifers, geo-energie, algen en gigantische ‘paddestoelen’ is San Francisco in deze visie Ecotopia in 2018. Meer info hier. [...]

  4. Design Shrine | San Fra... March 15, 2008 at 1:03 am

    [...] Via Inhabitat [...]

  5. City of the Future - th... March 14, 2008 at 3:24 pm

    [...] SAN FRANCISCO IN 2108? – The Hydro-Net Vision of the Future [...]

  6. HYDRO-NET Project : San... March 14, 2008 at 2:55 am

    [...] : IwamotoScott Architects via Inhabitat via LaughingSquid addthis_pub = [...]

  7. gary March 11, 2008 at 7:20 am

    eventhough this is a way to combat climate change its never goin to happen. nothing will change on this planet as long as theres money to be made. we will not move off of oil as fuel until it runs out, simply because of the greed of the human race. as you can see, the incrase in fule prices has not lowerd demand. think about it all major power companies are making huge profits and demand for oil is still going up!! we need to boicot oil for there to ever be a change and that will never happen.

  8. Nigel Lam March 10, 2008 at 3:04 am

    Some good ideas, and lets hope other places will catch on – like southern China (a new centre of pollution).

  9. sferanow March 10, 2008 at 2:34 am

    “Environmentalists”? and Lovecraft? That’s pretty funny, but way off.

  10. Ekologické bydlení &r... March 7, 2008 at 1:16 pm

    [...] inhabitat     Číst dál     Vložit [...]

  11. San Francisco to be rem... March 7, 2008 at 7:20 am

    [...] Source [...]

  12. Major Wood March 6, 2008 at 10:01 pm

    Why do environmentalists insist on making everything so ugly? Those twisted towers look like something from an H.P. Lovecraft novel.

  13. vrotekxt March 5, 2008 at 2:39 pm

    Well I say SF needs more daring in its design vision for the built environment, not less (there’s enough mediocrity proposed here every day as is). The designers did say in interviews that personal transport would not necessarily be replaced, just more efficient, put into auto-piloted streams for longer distance travel. And from what I understand, they see both the below-ground and above-ground systems as expandable (grow-able) to fit needs — more bottom-up than top-down.

  14. eryll jalipa March 5, 2008 at 4:21 am

    first impression: visually very imposing and hence my initial hesitation, but perhaps that’s just due to the rendering.

    but if you look into it i guess the idea works…maybe the surrounding housing styles should also be adapted and align with these new energy and transport systems, otherwise the new and the old seem so detached/separate from each other, and you need this to be a complete system….right?

  15. Hugo March 5, 2008 at 4:11 am

    Guys! Fog is not evaporated water (evaporated water is invisible)! It can contain salt and other minerals. And, yes It’s ugly and very dominant.

  16. Rem Solaris March 4, 2008 at 8:31 pm

    Sustaintable Design…. I see personal flying mashines in one of the renders, so private transport keeps working at the era… ahmmm.. How many of those mashines will exist?.. Global warming?..

  17. sferanow March 4, 2008 at 2:02 pm

    Good reply on the salty fog question. There are some pretty inane comments here in general. Ugly? not to these eyes, but so what? The project is mostly invisible and not about aesthetics nearly as much as the proposed function of connectivity and alternative energy production that such an infrastructural network could provide. Calle, why would this design kill anyone when the big one hits, (certainly no more than the current buildings or antiquated old buildings left in 100 years)? Its simply a matter of structural engineering for seismic forces — something that was clearly not the focus of the week-long effort for the design competition. Its about the big ideas, people.

  18. j.blu March 4, 2008 at 1:46 pm

    *correction: salt vaporizes at 2669 degrees Fahrenheit.

  19. j.blu March 4, 2008 at 1:42 pm

    Umm…salty fog? Not sure what world you all live on or if you just failed high school chemistry, but particulates and heavier minerals do not undergo the phase change that water does when it evaporates until several hundred degrees Fahrenheit. Salt does not evaporate. How do you think the salt flats in the south bay work? The water evaporates, leaving salt and minerals behind.

    Now weather our fog is full of industrial pollutants is another questions entirely…

  20. calle March 4, 2008 at 12:35 pm

    look cool but won’t that design kill like everyone when the big one hits?

  21. Hugo March 4, 2008 at 4:47 am

    That’s really ugly, but I must say that the technology is thought provoking. But still very ugly (very temporary design). Yes.

  22. Al Shaw March 4, 2008 at 3:48 am

    Beautiful, certainly, but if James Lovelock is right, San Francisco will be in ruins by 2108 – the result of sea level rises of 7 meters, hundreds of millions of deaths across the world, food and energy collapse and the breakdown of all law, government and society as we know it.

    Lovelock’s time scale for this impending apocalypse? Twenty years.

    We don’t need castles in the sky for 100 years away: we need truly radical action right now that dismantles the carbon-based societies we all live in and starts living totally sustainably today. Even then, we may not avert Lovelock’s predicted collapse.

    Yes, I’m upset.

  23. Alexander March 3, 2008 at 11:56 pm

    i guess it would be better if they could absorb pollution instead of salty fog

  24. oakling March 3, 2008 at 7:04 pm

    that’s very cool, but isn’t our fog… salty?

  25. Gui Vasconcelos March 3, 2008 at 2:54 pm

    These buildings looks like Xbox 360

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