Due to the sheer size of the program and its mixed-use (residential and commercial), and in response to the fact that passive measures and traditional renewable energy (PV & wind) cannot alone cover the totality of the energy demand of the building, our project proposes to grow its own biofuel on-site in order to activate a micro-CCHP (combined cooling heating and power plant) that will cater for the remaining energy. The facades are clad with algae photobioreactor panels that operate in a sort of closed loop cycle. Algae is fed with greywater from the apartments and the CO2 emitted by the CCHP in order to produce, through photosynthesis, an algae concentrate that is harvested and turned into biofuel. The algae biofuel is then used to operate the CCHP. The recycled water recuperated when the algae is harvested, can then be used again by the inhabitants as flushing water for toilets, or even to irrigate the courtyard garden on the first floor and other potential vertical agriculture by the residents.
The CCHP , itself coupled with various systems ( absorption chiller, heat exchangers and ground source heat pump), in addition to using the sun and wind as renewable energy and adopting passive systems (thermal chimneys, wall insulation, skylights for the grocery, roller shaders)makes it possible for us to attain zero net energy for the building.
Architecturally, in order to benefit from its context and climate, the project has been conceived as a single loaded u-shaped residential block elevated from the commercial podium, thus creating a communal garden for the residents that is secured and screened from the street bustle. Underneath the podium, on the ground floor, the grocery store serves the tenderloin community. The single loaded planning allows for cross-ventilation and passive cooling of the residential units. Also the exposed corridors allow for a radical reduction of the energy demand by eliminating the need to cool or heat these spaces. The elevation is punctured by double volume voids on several levels which constitute mini gardens breaking the rigidity of the facades as well as offering residents spaces for potential playgrounds and urban agriculture.Read Less