South Beach, Washington
Infrastructures of a Dynamic Landscape
Cory Mattheis & Robert Hutchison
The South Beach communities, stretching from Westport at the northern tip of Point Chehalis to Tokeland at the mouth of Willapa Bay, are served by various forms of infrastructure commonly found throughout other rural American communities, including roadways; bridges; water storage and water treatment centers and associated conveyance systems; telecommunication and electrical grids; waste management; and ports/marinas. Yet with its immediate and direct relationship to the Pacific Ocean, precariously located on one of the most dynamic coastlines of the west coast of North America, the South Beach community is susceptible to ongoing beach erosion and sedimentation, storm surge and sea level rise, and the possibility of a future tsunami. Over time, these perilous conditions have resulted in the development of a series of regional infrastructure typologies unique to the place, which together tell a story about the relationship of land and ocean and the resilient people who live here.
As a means to describe the relationship between infrastructure and the landscape, as well as to articulate the specific technical qualities of each infrastructure typology, we have documented the unique infrastructures of the South Beach community through photography and architectural graphics. As a means to further clarify the roles of the infrastructures to the community, we have organized them into three categories. Monitoring Infrastructures are systems used to monitor and observe conditions, including Coast Guard watchtowers, tsunami siren towers, and lighthouses. Engaging Infrastructures are systems that involve the direct engagement of humans with natural forces and the landscape: jetties, dredging, and shoreline stabilization. Finally, Sheltering Infrastructures are systems developed to protect and support the community, specifically vertical evacuation structures designed to provide safe haven for residents in the case of a tsunami event.