0626 - The Anti-gravity Arch

In the heart of San Jose, at the confluence of the Guadalupe River and Los Gatos Creek, stands a glass and metal inclined arch, seeming to levitate over the greenery of Arena Green Park. The Arch’s bottom hosts workshops and exhibition spaces dedicated to ecology and the discovery of local nature. At its top, the «sky-theatre» is composed of two auditoriums with curved and glazed roofs, arranged around an observation terrace. All these activities are interconnected thanks to the «sky-journey ship», a panoramic elevator that runs through the arch’s curvature, offering users a unique experience of discovery.

A redesign of Arena Green West celebrates the current restoration projects in the Bay’s tidal wetlands through both design and utility. Walkways flow around public performance venues, educational opportunities, scenic lookouts, and integrated systems for large-scale greywater and stormwater reuse.

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How did we achieve the competition’s objectives?

-By celebrating the culture of innovation in Silicon Valley,

through the use of two technical achievements. The first concerns the form that draws an inclined arch that seems to free itself from terrestrial gravity and levitate over the Green Arena Park. The second is the “sky journey ship”, a panoramic elevator designed as a space-ship that serves the project by taking a path which trajectory embraces the arch’s form, following a 30° inclined curve. This elevator is constantly held in a horizontal position thanks to a satellite 3D positioning system.

-By establishing a strong visual presence during the day, at night, and at distance

The project is a glass and metal colossus culminating at 200 feet that is in contrast with the vegetated environment of the park, thus producing a strong visual impact. We designed a lighting strategy to highlight the arch curved lines and to allow the levitation illusion to persist during the night.

-By respecting environment

The arch shape stems from the desire to preserve the park’s vegetation cover to the fullest. The low floor-area ratio of the architectural object minimizes its impact on the immediate environment. Otherwise, limiting the impact of artificial light on the balance of the site’s biocenosis is among project’s priorities. We equipped the arch with a control system, managing the periods, durations and lighting intensity in a way that it doesn’t exceed the current one. We have also excluded white light sources that are damaging to the fauna and flora. In order not to disturb birds on their migratory paths, the sky-oriented glass and metallized parts of the project were designed in such a way as to filter the emanating light from inner spaces of the project besides eliminating glare. We have also adjusted the lighting orientation by associating two types of covers, one glazed, sky-oriented, and the other one, opaque, oriented towards the two rivers’ banks, which has no light emanation and so no impact on the rivers’ ecosystem.

-By creating a world-wide iconic destination that builds civic pride

More than an iconic object, it is also a tourist destination and a source of ecological knowledge. It hosts workshops and exhibition spaces dedicated to the ecology and the discovery of Silicon Valley’s nature. Moreover, the project’s attractiveness is strengthened by the «Sky theatre», a monumental space placed at the arch’s top.

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