Breeze of Innovation by Smar Architecture Studio finalist of competition for architectural landmark in San Jose

Breeze of Innovation

Smar Architecture Studio is among three finalists in an international ideas competition to create an architectural landmark for Silicon Valley in San Jose, selected from a pool of 963 entries from 72 countries. The Urban Confluence Silicon Valley competition seeks for a design that could be built at the “confluence” of the Guadalupe River and Los Gatos Creek in downtown San Jose.

The winning idea will be selected by jury in early 2021. The competition is a project of not-for-profit San Jose Light Tower Corporation, which formed in 2017 with the goal of delivering “an artistic and iconic” structure inspired by the San Jose electric light tower, a pioneering experiment in electricity-powered municipal lighting built in 1881.

The brief for the competition was not to recreate the light tower but to develop designs that “respect the natural environment and embrace the extraordinary spirit of Silicon Valley innovation.” Smar Architecture Studio with “Breeze of Innovation” was announced as one of the three finalists on 18 September. The project is developed by directors Fernando Jerez and Belen Perez de Juan.

The firm’s design incorporates 500 flexible rods that reach 200-feet-tall (61 metres), designed to swing with the wind while supporting a series of platform levels. Jerez explains that they wanted to create a dynamic object, not something staticm – “an object that is never the same, because it moves, and when it moves the light changes, and it creates an object that is ever-changing and magical,” he says in a promotional video.

The design references the 1881 San Jose electric light tower, with the rods forming a conical void within the structure with the exact dimensions of the original tower. Jerez states that the void would be used for exhibitions, with the platform levels offering unique vantage points. “The moment you go up, you start to find yourself among the treetops of the park. And suddenly you are on top of the valley.”

The design is dubbed Breeze of Innovation, and the idea is that the movement of the rods in the wind would be used to generate power to meet all the demands of the structure. Belen Perez de Juan says, “This design covers the two things that I think are important for us: engaging with the community and taking care of the planet.” Source and images Courtesy of Smar Architecture Studio.

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