Smar Architecture Studio – a Western Australian-based practice – has won the design competition for an architectural landmark to be erected in Silicon Valley, California.

The design, titled Breeze of Innovation, consists of 500 white rods that sway in the wind, likened to translucent oversized paint brushes in the sky. The structure will generate enough wind power to light itself up in the night, creating a striking visual for visitors of San Jose.

The competition, dubbed the Urban Confluence Silicon Valley Ideas competition, asked architects from around the globe to come up with designs for a space on the Arena Green at Guadalupe Park and Gardens in San José. A total of 963 designs from 72 different countries were submitted, with Smar taking out the competition with its groundbreaking idea.

Smar Founding Partner Fernando Jerez says the design centres around the idea of innovation in the Valley while paying tribute to the past.

“Silicon Valley is not about replicating the past; it’s about shaping the future. Our goal from the beginning was to capture the ever-changing magic of Silicon Valley while also creating a deep connection with the San José community.”

The design is a tribute to the San Jose Light Tower, erected in 1881. The ‘first technological item of the world’, the tower inspired the design of the Eiffel Tower, which was constructed eight years later. Jerez says Smar’s design was mindful of the legacy of the Light Tower, and aimed to construct a design of similar traits.

“We came up with the idea of designing a dynamic landmark, one that is alive, moving with the wind and light, a magical space that includes a tribute to the San José Electric Light Tower of 1881. We want visitors to enjoy a unique experience on their ascent, connecting with the memory of the Valley while dreaming about its future possibilities.”

The structure, 61 metres in height, will contain multiple levels and walkways, with a viewing platform at the top. The materiality of the light rods is yet to be decided and will be confirmed during the second stage of the design process. 

Jon Ball, the Board Chair of Urban Confluence Silicon Valley says Smar’s design was selected due to its distinct qualities.

“We are extremely excited to announce ‘Breeze of Innovation’ as the winner of our design competition,” he says. 

“This entry stood out because of its elegant and sophisticated visual style, representing Silicon Valley through vibrant motion and singular grace on an imposing scale.”

Funded by philanthropy and government grants, the project has so far raised over $2.5 million. The design is expected to be submitted to San Jose City Council for planning approval next month.