Studio E Architects faced a compelling challenge when designing the first phase UC Davis West Village, which opened last October in California’s upper Central Valley. Experiencing moderate winters, warm summers, prevailing winds and moderate rainfall within the heart of former agricultural fields, the new addition to UC Davis was to be a net-zero facility. Serving as the largest of its kind and a model for campus communities and environmentally conscious urbanism. That is sustainable and community oriented. The program required 123 units of student apartments in one, two and three-bedroom configurations, 45,000 square feet of ground level commercial space all of which would emulate the central park space in downtown Davis and become the heart of West Village. Follow us after the break to see the sustainable solutions that Studio E Architects came up with!
When designing the campus community, Studio E Architects first focused on arranging the buildings to function on a range of scales. Gathering spaces were tailored for large and small groups and the interactions between the buildings was vital to create situations where people could wander, linger and enjoy the outdoors. Once the arrangement of the spaces was determined, the priority was to develop each building to function as an energy efficient and sustainable unit of the campus.
David Sokol of GreenSource commented that the design has very much in common with traditional campuses and communities, but the motivation of each move within the design was to demonstrate simple and inexpensive solutions to decreasing energy consumption. Erik Naslund, principle of Studio E Architects, said that first it was necessary to create a straightforward design that reduced loads and then design systems that met and surpassed those energy loads.
The most prominent aspect of the design are the saw-toothed roofs, whose consistency unifies the campus. All the roofs are tilted to a southern orientation and optimized to support the maximum number of photovoltaic panels. The southern and western facades are ventilated with vertical corrugated metal. This creates a thermal shield for the building protecting heat gain from the afternoon sun. The sun shades are oriented to protect from the summer sun, but allow the interior to warm with the lower lighting conditions of the winter sun. The southern side also has deep roof overhangs that give more protection from heat gain as well as more surface area for solar panels.
The envelope of the building is well insulated using simple, inexpensive materials commonly used in construction. The architects, along with their consultant Davis Energy Group, chose appliances and fixtures that were energy efficient to bring down the need to produce as much electricity. The consideration for each of the component of the design resulted in a campus that not only meets its energy needs on-site, but is also able to sell excess energy back to the grid.