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Embracing Limits

Jack London Gateway, Oakland, California

Honor Award, Zero Net Energy Design Competition 2014


Technology, especially the internet, encourages people to believe the world's resources are unlimited and that infinite consumption will make our lives better. The proposed design examines an alternative to such a commonly held belief system. Our design suggests that contentment can be achieved by embracing limitations. We envision developing a modern and interdependent village. One that will supply it's own energy as well as provide basic/necessary services for the residents and for the community at large

The project achieves Zero Net Energy through conservation and advanced technology. Efforts to conserve begin at the building cell level. The rooms are compact. Leaving less distance between units in order to create more space for outdoor communal areas. Thus the energy that would have been used to heat and cool excess surplus space becomes unnecessary. The units are developed based on a 11’-6” module which allows for flexibility and layout variations. The concept is also adaptable to prefabrication. Through passive design this high-performance building absorbs solar energy to heat it in the winter and breathes in fresh air to cool it in the summer. The supplemental energy is provided through highly efficient roof photovoltaic arrays, a solar thermal collector and a ground source heat pump.

The buildings rest on the edges of the property enhancing the streetscape thereby welcoming shoppers and residents to the new development. This strategy also helps shelter the open spaces from street noise and the elements. The new building on parcel one defines the northern edge of the shopping center with pedestrian friendly walkway and bike lanes. Basic services are provided on-site allowing residents more time to spend with family and to participate in the community activities. A grocery store is located on top of the underground parking garage for the convenience of customers and residents above parcel two. The childcare facility proposed on the east side of parcel one will offer sunlight and easy access to the outdoor playground.