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Phase 2: Safe Trestles Transect: Journey Through a Coastal Landscape


1. vb (tr) to cut or divide crossways
2. n a sample strip of land used to monitor plant distribution, animal populations, etc., within a given area

The proposed walk to Trestles Beach combines portions of the existing trail with a boardwalk that is subtly lifted above the existing site to honor the landscape below. To the extent possible, the walk alignment closely follows the existing trail alignment. It is a human transect, sampling the unique elements that define the current trek to Trestles Beach. At varying heights the user may experience: the slow restoration of an eroded ravine below; sandy bluffs looming alongside; the gust of a passenger train separating sagebrush from the vast ocean ahead; and at several places, panoramic views of the shoreline and billowing vegetation. The passage to Trestles Beach respects the sanctity of the Panhe burial ground and continues to fuel the spirit of the surfing community. To recognize this energy and provide data for habitat restoration, the hydrological transect marks transitions between vegetation ecotypes with multihued monitoring wells. The buoys in the wells signal changes in the water table elevation, revealing seasonal fluctuations and the impact of upstream land uses.

The primary generator of all design decisions is respect for the natural systems. The human transect facilitates human movement across the fragile environment to the beach. The proposed interventions respond to the systems, both by enabling restoration and minimizing impact. The first intervention, the Entrance, includes pavements that are porous, a reduction in asphalt, a restroom that uses green technologies, a retaining wall that does not stop the flow of water, and a vegetated basin to collect and filter runoff from the adjacent asphalt pavement. The second intervention, the Overlook boardwalk, bridges the ravine at Corndog Hill. We propose that the native vegetation be restored thereby allowing the hydrological systems to function properly. The third intervention, Boardwalk Down, occurs in the area where the Willow Woodland changes to and includes the Freshwater Marsh. This latter ecosystem is more sensitive and has to be protected from regular human trespass.

The segments of trail that are proposed to remain were very carefully identified. The central trail portion, the Ephemeral Edge, occurs in the Coastal Sage Scrub and Willow Woodland ecotypes, where the topography is flatter and the natural systems can function properly without intervention. This is also the case at the ocean end of the trail, where no intervention is required because the Mexican Rush Meadow is less fragile.

The hydrological transect monitoring devices enable ongoing observation of the hydrology of the San Mateo nature preserve. The regard for the natural systems is readily apparent in the hydrological transect. However, in addition to the scientific monitoring capacity of the wells, the lines of buoys will draw the eye across the landscape and heighten views of the nature preserve. Because of the color variation between ecotypes, the observer may understand the changes in natural systems and be inclined to intentionally observe the land. The fluctuation of the buoys over time will be interesting to the repeat user/observer and will be visual cues to the fluctuations in the hydrological conditions.


United States
Project posted by Lindsay High


Competition Details

  • Name: Safe Trestles Phase Two
  • Host: Architecture for Humanity
  • Type: Private
  • Registration Deadline:
  • Submission Deadline:
  • Entry Fee: Free
  • Status: Phase 2 Design Review

The competition entry ID for this project is 7865.

Project Details

NAME: Phase 2: Safe Trestles Transect: Journey Through a Coastal Landscape
LOCATION: United States
START DATE: July 16, 2010
CURRENT PHASE: Design development
DESIGN FIRM: Lager Raabe Skafte Landscape Architects