Intended to blur the lines between nature and the built environment, Park Habitat has been designed as a living structure and forms part of an overall campus vision which blends housing, workspace, retail, public space and amenities.
San Jose has broken ground on a large-scale, downtown net zero initiative that will create 1.3 million square feet of low-carbon workspace and retail areas, as well as an expansion space for the adjacent Tech Interactive science centre.
Designed by renowned architect Kengo Kuma, Park Habitat, is part of an overall campus vision to bring the elements of a community – housing, workspace, retail, public space, amenities and nature – into the centre of Silicon Valley. Appropriately, the project broke ground on Earth Day on 22 April.
Net zero lifecycle
Comprising seven projects across downtown San Jose, the campus aims to achieve net zero carbon lifecycle for both operational and embodied carbon. Park Habitat is the first new development in the campus and will be among the most sustainable buildings of its kind.
Designed to blur the lines between nature and the built environment, Kuma imagines Park Habitat as a living structure, blending sustainability and natural elements with workspace, public realm space and cultural programming. The project ‘breathes’ with an outsized vertical courtyard called the Green Lung, providing ventilation and cooling.
Natural elements of pocket gardens, a rooftop forest and a unique vegetative façade are integrated throughout, giving life to the building, while providing access to nature and the outdoors to occupants.
To reduce embodied and operational carbon to the greatest extent possible, the project will leverage low-carbon building materials, and connect to an all-electric district energy system developed by Creative Energy. Any remaining carbon emissions will be mitigated through on-site renewable energy generation and local, high-quality offsets. From an emissions perspective, it will be as if Park Habitat was never constructed, stakeholders claim.
“Through Westbank and Urban Community’s collaboration, Park Habitat will bring a vibrant mixed-use hub focused on creating community to our downtown, uniquely balanced with our role as a world leader in the fight against climate change,” said San Jose mayor Sam Liccardo.
Council member Raul Peralez, who represents downtown and surrounding neighbourhoods, added: “The Park Habitat project emphasises the unique opportunity for San Jose to become a world leader in responding to climate change while developing an active, vibrant, and ultimately inspiring community in our city’s core.
“I look forward to watching this development and the connected projects unfold in the years ahead, as we continue to build a sustainable city where everyone can live, work, and play.”
In collaboration with Tech Interactive, the project will create a 60,000 square feet expansion space for the science centre, envisioned as an anchor and connection point for a vibrant, active public realm that will support the growth of the surrounding cultural district.
“This project will deepen our impact and the world’s ability to solve some of its biggest challenges including climate change,” said Katrina Stevens, Tech Interactive president and CEO.
“Our initiative in San Jose is part of our commitment to cities and to creating healthier, more sustainable communities within them. We believe this has never been more important and that all of us have a role to play in this endeavour”
The goal for downtown San Jose is to create a sustainable community for the creative economy, that brings companies and their teams out of suburban industrial parks and re-connects them with the urban environment. Ian Gillespie, Westbank founder, reckons San Jose has emerged as the natural future hub for Silicon Valley and “the ‘ingredients’ needed for intelligent city-building have converged there, creating the opportunity for a new typology”.
He added: “At this moment in history, it’s time we question the basic building blocks of our communities. We are destroying the environment we depend on, we are spending hours a day commuting, our work environments are uninspiring and unhealthy and so is much of our housing.
“Our initiative in San Jose is part of our commitment to cities and to creating healthier, more sustainable communities within them. We believe this has never been more important and that all of us have a role to play in this endeavour.”