Urban Confluence Silicon Valley
San Jose, California
2020, competition entry
If Silicon Valley can be represented in single material it would be glass. Glass is based on the chemical compound silica, the primary constituent of sand.
Proposed design derives from the eternal symbols combined to represent the uniqueness of the Silicon Valley. Glass symbolism is dual. It represents things that are fragile, but also things that are protective and strong. It symbolizes transformation, eternity and rebirth. Arch is a timeless shape, based in the laws of nature. Lightness and openness, strength and support. Passing through an arch is the symbolic act of rebirth, of leaving the old behind and entering the new. Gate is an entryway into an unknown place, our future, a place of great significance. Bridge is inherently symbolic of communication and union of different people.
Proposed form is a catenary arch that is always in compression. Whole structure is made of solid glass blocks. Not only has glass proven to be extremely durable, but its compressive strength is exceeding that of concrete and steel, making glass the most suitable material for the arch. With the height of 180’ and span of 600’ it will be first large glass structure in history.
Design takes advantage of the site. Approaching from a highway it is recognizable as a landmark arch, gate. As the arch spans over river confluence point it becomes an iconic bridge, communication, symbolic bridge from past to present to future.
Series of ramps meander on the arch, allowing ascend and crossing, creating memorable lively place. Paths around and through the area are enhanced with organically flowing design. Different areas around the site can be used for various events with wide arch above providing shelter and ramps acting as an amphitheater.
The whole design is illuminated by lights integrated in the glass structure, programmable for any desirable scenario, atmospheres, light shows, live projections… working together with transparent glass for incredible effects. The project is net-zero, only energy needed is for illumination which is gained from diverse range of solar panels subtly incorporated throughout the site and main structure. Design is wheelchair accessible, glass is scratch and graffiti resistant material. Silicon is the second most abundant element in the Earth’s crust. Glass is 100% recyclable and can be recycled endlessly without loss in quality or purity.
The proposed landmark with the pioneering use of glass will join other historic landmarks in materials inherent to their own era.