Superblock Zero. 2016
Client: Pacific Gas and Electric Company
The design strategy for SUPERBLOCK ZERO is based on creating a great place to live within the smallest footprint. The residential units are designed around a courtyard that becomes not only a sanctuary for the residences but a tool for masking the garage from the street.
The parking garage, a large component unto itself, has been designed in a way that allows for natural ventilation. The facade is open on more than two opposing sides allowing air to pass through the structure. The annex containing the academic program is separated from the residences, isolating the HVAC loads and localizing the energy demands. The single height structure has large overhangs and a shaped roof that is well insulated preventing the building from absorbing radiation and subject to large temperature swings. Lastly, the residential building uses the interstitial space between ﬂoors to allow air to pass through the building. These air chutes encourage natural ventilation in the corridors, a back of house space that usually is neglected in a large structure.
The building has an innovative floor assembly that takes in air and either cools the units during the day or heats the units at the night. The facade has a louver system at the ﬂoor line where air can travel through the structure. The ﬂoor is precast concrete shaped in a way that creates a large cavernous chamber in the center of the building. This chamber is a place where utilities may ﬂow through the building as well as a place where thermal mass can be leveraged to balance heating and cooling demands. This system is passively designed but at the same time can be enhanced with the support of a mechanical HVAC system. The ﬁnal product is a building that can achieve high levels of comfort with minimal energy use.