As part of the comprehensive campus transformation of San Jose in the West Bank, which was developed in collaboration with the municipality, Peterson and OPtrust, Kengo Kuma and Associates proposes its “Park Habitat” work area. The project tries to disguise the boundary between nature and office and give residents the opportunity to work in a park. The building is designed with a performative, “green lung”, expresses a wooden structure that is crowned by a roof park, and is wrapped in an appealing, vegetative skin. West Bank and Kengo Kuma celebrate San Jose’s ecological heritage, which is a verdant landscape of orchards, meadows and wetlands so that people can work, live and spend time.
Images courtesy of Kengo Kuma and staff
kengo kuma and Associates (KKAA) and West Bank will develop a “park living space” to combine the pastoral heritage of San Jose with the ambitious and forward-looking spirit of Silicon Valley. The designers at Park Habitat for the West Bank campus recognize the joy of spending time in nature while working in an air-conditioned office environment. West Bank founder Ian Gillespie comments, “I don’t want to work inside when I can work outside.” With that in mind, the project will maximize the time over the year that it can function without conditioned air while using vegetation to improve indoor air quality. In this way, the air quality is as close as possible to the fresh state that one would breathe outdoors.
Kengo Kuma’s “Park Habitat” breathes with an oversized vertical courtyard called the “green lung”. The performative and biophilic structure designed together with the CMG landscape architecture influences nature in a way that is beyond metaphor. The building relies on wind pressures along with functional facades, thermal mass and vegetation to let in air during the day and to flush air and heat at night. This systemic “green lung” thus imitates a constant architectural “inhalation and exhalation” that brings light deep into every floor and expresses itself as a picturesque and overgrown vertical garden.
Overall, the building envelope is finely tuned to lower the project’s energy requirements and create a joyful connection with the flora. The facade consists of extensive vertical vegetation and sun protection louvers. Plantings include overgrown walls attached directly to the curtain wall, as well as window box-style planters with tendrils on vertical wire grids. The vegetation in these planters acts as sun protection for the glass behind and is visible to the residents of the building as a biophilic amenity for improved air quality inside the building. In the meantime, operable windows are often integrated into the facade, which contribute to natural ventilation and to the nightly flushing of the temperature control for the release of heat and the general health of the office space.
One of the most important sustainability features of Kengo Kuma’s “park living space” is an all-electric building that should achieve a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in the long term. The West Bank is aiming for a 100% reduction in operational carbon by being fully electric, integrating on-site solar PV and using waste heat from work areas for the residential components of the other buildings on campus. Reusing black water minimizes the consumption of drinking water – a major problem in drought-prone California.
Other sustainable features that define the overall concept of the park living space on the West Bank campus are passive conditioning and a biophilic facade. The high-performance building envelope designed by Kengo-Kuma improves access to useful daylight, reduces direct sunlight and extends the hours in which the view can be maintained without the use of internal blinds. While San Jose’s population is expected to grow 39% by 2035, the city will soon become an even more important hub in Silicon Valley and the larger bay.
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Project title: Park habitat for West Bank campus
Location: San Jose, California
architecture: Kengo Kuma and coworkers (KKAA) with Adams Associates Architects
Developer: West Bank, Borough, Peterson and OPtrust
Landscape architecture: CMG landscape architecture
Sustainability and Energy: Atelier ten, reshaping strategies
Office programming: WRNS Studio
Visualizations: Courtesy of Kengo Kuma and staff