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Project AURA's mission is to foster and encourage awareness of the environmental issues we will be facing in the future as a result of our off-balanced natural resource consumption. It provides a platform which allows for people to participate in a new way of receiving energy into their homes and everyday way of life.





_alternative energy exchange laboratory

_presidio_san francisco

_design completed 2013

#leah zaldumbide
Aura_Site Analysis_Wind Pattern
Aura_Site Analysis_Visual Accessibility



Design Strategy
Aura_Design Strategy
Aura_Design Strategy_Shape and Function

By incorporating energy harvesting systems into both the form and the structure of project AURA, the complex offers an alternative approach; where the building itself becomes an instrument for harnessing different forms of energy, while still offering unique inhabitable spaces.

Floor Plan

Ground Level Plan

1. hell's kitchen

2. kitchen office

6. kitchen freezer

7. bathrooms

9. bike kitchen

11.entry lounge

14.public research lab

15.material library studio


23.rapid prototyping studio studio


Upper Level Plan


31.mess hall

32.public plaza deck

33.pedestrian bridge


35.advanced research lab exchange workshop

37.classrooms service center

40.alternative workshop


Upper Level Plan

Roof Plan

Roof Plan
Elevation & Section

The roof structure of the building supports the green roof and the pathways for visitors. Native species are planted in 4' planter boxes in order to share loads as the roof curves

Aura_Section Reference
Aura_Section BB


Aura_Section AA + Section CC + Elevation



Sturctural Feasibility
Aura_Main Structure
Aura_Section DD_South












Green Roof
Roof to Aura
Floor Slab to Aura
Building Envelope
Building Energy
alt. energy

In the U.S., 8% of the electricity generation loss occurs during transmission & distribution. The design concept of the building is to move away from the traditional electrical grid model.

Aura_Aura Alternative Energy
Aura Alternative Energy

There are a total of six AURAs dedicated to passively maintaining the building at a comfortable temperature range by using chimney effect along with earth tube system. Out of these six AURAs, the three lower ones intake cool air. Then the fresh air gets channeled through a series of earth tubes. The earth tubes act as a heat exchanger underground, which can capture heat from and/or dissipate heat to the ground before distributing fresh air back into the building at a more desirable temperature. The other three AURAs are located at the highest points of the building. The height difference between these and the intake AURAs creates a negative pressure which forces air to circulate through the building.


A set of three AURAs are wind energy generators which are constantly capturing the intense northwest wind all year long. The underground turbines which connect to the three energy generating AURAs are located towards the back of the lot to minimize vibration and sound pollution during the energy conversion process.


The topography of the "living roof" is optimized to funnel the wind toward the three energy generating AURAs. On the other hand, at the two lowest areas of the roof topography, two AURAs are built to collect and remediate rainwater and to recycle used grey water.


The remaining four hybrid AURAs have the built-in geothermal utilities working along side with the earth tube system. These AURAs connect to the radiant heating network that is embedded in the floor plates to warm the building at a minimized cost.

In the spirit of community and volunteer services that is very pertinent in the Presidio, people are welcome to take home charged batteries. Rather than requiring a paid membership, members can acquire them by donating their time to the various volunteer groups in the Presidio. 









Aura_Natural Ventilation System
Egress & ADA
Process & Iteration
Aura_Process and Iteration
Aura_Physical Model
Aura_Design Development



The open source alternative energy exchange laboratory and open-access incubator studio space have the potential to build a future energy community in which those who participate come not only to receive energy, but to gain knowledge and tools to build their own sustainable energy device

#mark jensen #steven huegli #lisa findley
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