18 January 2017
A small team took on the Architecture at Zero competition, the challenge: to create a zero net energy student housing project at the San Francisco State University campus.
Within Confluence, solutions grow from place to provide an inimitable creation that engages the inherent bioclimatic pattern language of the site and reflects the spirit and priorities of San Francisco State University.
Confluence, meaning coming together, celebrates local climate and culture through the intermingling of wind, fog and sun and the diversity of student experiences. The term confluence also reflects the natural phenomenon of winds accelerating as they enter a confluent zone (in this case between sculpted building facades).
Within the patterns of nature and the soul of the university, our process was inspired by the community and landscape characteristics touched by the project. These unique characteristics were synthesized with broader criteria for habitat creation, rooftop food production, fog harvesting, renewable energy production, user wellness and, ultimately, student success.
Through an intimate dialog with context, it became evident this site is characterized by patterns of heavy fog and prevailing winds, thus provoking the design solutions of curved facades to assist in wind harvesting and a fog scrim for the collection of water. Further, in an effort to balance the need for engaging outdoor space, buildings were sculpted to block the wind into a social courtyard with a solar canopy used to create a passively tempered oasis for students.
Further, in order to meet net zero energy goals and because heating is the dominant energy load for this project, concentrated parabolic solar thermal collectors on the perimeter of the rooftop farms help round out the project’s renewable energy profile.
Ultimately, for the project to succeed, it is vital to provide students with an elevated experience not one loaded with restrictions.