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Cut Back Hills

Entered into: Safe Trestles

The project is inspired by two sources. First: driftwood that follows along the natural flow of the river paths and second: the maneuvering techniques that surfers utilize when riding on the wave, including cutback, snap, and floaters. Recombining and implementing these natural and dynamic movements to the proposal is believed to enhance the experience for all visitors.

The primary function of the proposal is to provide a safe access from the special events parking area at Old Pacific Highway 101 to the Trestles. Technically, to provide a minimized impact to the wetland, the main wood decked circulation spine follows the existing hard pack path, only elevated so its structures are all anchored to the hard path below. The new circulation curls around the bluff anchoring its structure to its non-wetland surfaces. When gradually approaching over the active railroad track the circulation cuts back its direction, turning from south to north. The circulation eventually descends to the Trestles providing multiple accesses to the beach, either by accessing one of the two provided stairs or ending its path down the ADA compliant circulation ramp.

By providing longer traveling distance than the existing hard pack circulation, this implementation allows for visitors to opportunistically engage and contemplate the natural environment the Trestles have to offer from multiple vantage points. Longer distance also allows a comfortable slope percentage in compliance with accessibility standards.

At the main entry of the new circulation deck, four wheelchair accessible and one van accessible parking spaces are provided. Separate men’s and women’s bathrooms with drinking fountains at each entryway are installed for convenient access to visitors. Adjacent to the bathroom facility is one of the first observation decks that provide a view of the wetlands and beach facing northwest direction. Behind the observation deck, along the circulation deck, are bike racks for visitors who wish to travel the circulation deck by foot.

As visitors continue to descend, the circulation curls around the bluff, opening up to vast view of the entire Trestles. Visitors can either continue their circulation down to the beach or ascend up the Bleachers Hill, leading to the second observation deck at the crest of the site nearby the lifeguard tower. Here, the visitors can experience and contemplate the enhanced panoramic view of the overall Trestles.

Continuing its descendence, the open-air circulation deck transforms into a tunnel-like form, acting as a sound barrier to the bypassing trains. Cutback Tunnel is located right above the train track. Along the final stretch, visitors are provided with two direct stairways to beach and a third observation deck facing east, where they can have a closer contact to the wetland ecosystem. The fourth observation deck nearby the exit of the ramp provides casual benches and bike racks for the convenience of visiting surfers.


United States

Competition Category Entered

Competition Details

  • Name: Safe Trestles
  • Host: Architecture for Humanity
  • Type: Public
  • Registration Deadline: April 17, 2010
  • Submission Deadline: April 17, 2010
  • Entry Fee: $20
  • Award: up to 5 Finalists: each awarded Phase 2 design stipend of $5,000.00+
  • Contact: alix o
  • Status: Winners Annouced

The competition entry ID for this project is 7057.

Project Details

NAME: Cut Back Hills
PROJECT LEAD: 24° Studio
LOCATION: California, United States
START DATE: February 22, 2010
SIZE: 522716 sq. ft
PROJECT TYPE: Landscapes/Parks/Outdoor Spaces
ARCHITECT: Fumio Hirakawa
, Marina Topunova

About Our Partners


San Onofre Foundation is a charitable organization whose mission is to provide education, protection, and preservation for the California State Parks at San Onofre and San Clemente State Beaches.

The Surfrider Foundation is a non-profit environmental organization dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the world's oceans, waves and beaches for all people, through conservation, activism, research and education.

Architecture for Humanity is a charitable organization that seeks architectural solutions to humanitarian crisis and brings design services to communities in need. We believe that where resources and expertise are scarce, innovative, sustainable and collaborative design can make a difference.

Rebuild is the San Diego chapter of Architecture for Humanity, providing solutions to problems that face communities on a local and global level through participation in design competitions, initiating their own projects, and working together with other humanitarian and non-profit organizations.


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