William Gibson's Bridge City in "Virtual Light" Could Become Real

San Francisco's Bay Bridge is getting a makeover that will leave a large portion of the old bridge unused, but still standing strong. Now two architects are proposing that the city build a neighborhood on it.


Local architects Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello hit upon this idea after considering what was about to happen to the Bay Bridge. Here is an aerial view, showing the abandoned side of the bridge on the right. This span of the bridge is still very sturdy, and could easily bear quite a bit of weight. Why dismantle and waste it when you could turn it into a unique neighborhood?

In a detailed proposal for what they call The Bay Line, the architects suggest the bridge could be a series of public parks with neighborhoods hanging beneath the bridge. This is a more suburban version of what happens in William Gibson's novel Virtual Light, where squatters take up residence on the bridge after it is partly destroyed.


Rael and San Fratello also point out that other cities have successfully built bridge neighborhoods, including Florence, Italy's Ponte Vecchio (pictured below) and the London Bridge in London. Over at BLDG BLOG, Geoff Manaugh meditates on this possible bridge community, and writes:

While, on one level, this simply side-steps the immense financial implications associated with structurally maintaining these bridges . . . it does also kick-start a conversation about what we might be able to do with the massive pieces of civic infrastructure that dot the U.S. and are currently scheduled for replacement and demolition.


Read Rael and San Fratello's full proposal for the Bay Line [PDF], via BLDG BLOG

Top image via Constant's New Babylon.


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