Polymorphic 2.0: Kingspan Generation Competition


Imagine a future where advanced technology was not simply beautiful but ubiquitous; so unrecognizable that it blended seamlessly within our everyday lives; so sustainable that it improved both the spaces in which they defined and the lives of its occupants it served.  Polymorphic 2.0 is the future that we all crave and desire while setting the highest standards in building construction and design. Exemplifying the most leading edge technologies, its sole purpose is to advance the lives of its users while achieving net zero carbon emissions. Nestled in the heart of downtown Portland, Oregon, the project takes advantage of both the climate and natural surroundings to achieve its highest performance. Using environmentally sound principles and maximizing LEED credits, the new vision for Kingspan benefits both the city and its dwellers while improving community. By setting the standards high in both building performance and design, Kingspan will embody the best practices for future development.

There are two key elements that define the new headquarters and factory; a tower and a bridge. The tower, as the new location for the Kingspan headquarters, is strategically designed as a tall narrow sliver that has minimal impact to the park below yet maintaining a high density ratio. By making the tower thin, there is limited disruption to the view of downtown Portland’s skyline beyond. The flexibility in the size and shape of the Kingspan Insulated Metal Panel was a primary driving force in the final design for Polymorphic 2.0. Two different sized panels were used in the final construction of the tower; 2’x8’ and 1’x4’. The modularity of these panels allowed for a shifting in the facades to create openings where natural day lighting is reflected indirectly into the interior spaces. To fully optimize the use of the fog harvesters on the tower, two folds were created on the North facing façade at 2.65 and 3.42 degree angles where the cool arid currents are at their greatest. The implementation of fog catchers also acts as a shade barrier in the hot summer months as they are strategically offset from the north and south facing glazing systems.

Transitioning from tower to bridge, a moment is created between private and public spaces. The projected bridge over the Willamette River uses a hybrid integration of manmade products and natural growth. As vegetation proliferates in this climate setting, there is an encouragement for plant life to take control. This not only acts as a natural insulator for the factory located below but as a living building system exchanging carbon emissions for oxygen.  Kingspan Insulated Panels were also integrated on the bridge surface. Repurposing this product to be used in this manner allows for an individual to experience the panels in a novel way. A seamless transition between the park and bridge encourages visitors to walk around and atop the structure, and witness the production of panels.

Portland regularly undergoes months of rain and cloudy skies throughout the year. This introduced both obstacles and opportunities to reaching net zero carbon emissions. Situating the factory over a flowing river facilitated the use of  relatively new technologies of harvesting energy through hydropower in slow currents. These devices are placed directly below the bridge to generate power from the moving current.  A kink was created in the bridges design to help maximize the greatest amount of flow to each hydropower unit. To help maximize the production of power for Polymorphic 2.0, wind turbines are also integrated along the bridge above where unobstructed wind power funnels along the river.

Locating Kingspan’s office and manufacturing facility within an already sustainable city like Portland, Oregon, presents both challenge and fortuity. Maximizing the building’s efficiency by using LEED as a benchmark and through the incorporation of products like insulated metal panels and renewable energies, it is possible to elevate the standards of building construction and design. Integrating new and upcoming technologies into our buildings when it matters most, will set new trends in the way we design with minimal impact to our surroundings.


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