Living for the future

James Forryan
Wednesday 11 Nov 2009

HKS design futuristic mixed-use development

Future sustainable urban living will depend largely on man’s ability to create holistic architectural solutions that harvest the regenerative power of a site’s natural systems. This project offers a self-sustaining, 'off-the-grid' urban community using a full city block in downtown Dallas, Texas.

Using the 2008 study on Potential Texas Renewable Energy Systems as a reference, the design team’s analysis concluded that the optimum choice for a renewable energy source was a novel geothermal cogeneration plant—a technology currently unused in the North Texas region—made possible by the fact that Dallas sits atop a geothermal fault line. Further research with Southern Methodist University’s Geothermal Laboratory served to strengthen the site as a prime location to explore viable geothermal power generation.

In addition to a geothermal power plant, the one-million-square-foot project incorporates a photovoltaic solar collection system covering over 11,000 sq ft on the upper portions of the north tower façade. Together, these two alternative energy sources are calculated to produce 7.4 million kilowatt hours each year, more than offsetting the predicted 2.2 million kilowatt hours consumed by the project each year. The team’s energy models anticipate that selling the estimated 5.2 million kilowatt hours of excess energy will generate an annual income of at least $416,000 for the Property Owner Association, the envisioned owner of the alternate energy systems.

The design’s two towers maximise open space on the site while providing 500 residential units and 75,000 sq ft of commercial and retail space. The towers’ unique, intermittent sky parks allow for neighborly interaction and community development on a personal scale. In addition, an inclined park at ground level provides space for food production, habitat and a gravity-operated water scrubbing system that utilises native flora for water purification. The project’s progressive and modern design is a look into the future of architecture as we move closer to a world powered by renewable energy.

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