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# Formal Processes, Part III

By A Center for Ants?
Apr 22, '09 1:47 AM EST

Interested in taking a more formal approach to design, I was experimenting by starting with a few formal techniques that I was interested in and then using diagrams and program etc. as a secondary organizing element.

So to begin with, after looking at the Zaha and UN Studio projects, I was interested in the idea of surface and how it remains undifferentiated in the development of a lot of projects. I think this is a positive thing for architecture. It implies a tectonic sensibility that is not bound to orthographic projections that we're accustomed to. The problem is always in dealing with continuity say between transitioning between floor and wall and how the limits of material continuity always come into play (which we don't have to worry so much about in 3d models on the computer). But despite these concerns...

The geometry generated in the twist becomes particularly interesting and elegant as the direction of the surface also bends simultaneously.

Continuing along, what I think UN Studio does quite well is a balance between surface continuity/formal implications of the "blob" and control through hard edges and aperture with give demonstrate (in my opinion) greater geometric control than say the soft continuity of continuous blobs a la the Zaha Funicular at Nordpark.

vs.

I wanted the surfaces to allow for continuity but also juxtaposed against hard edges. The secondary organizing principles were also based off of the two gondola lines that ended/began at the site, the topography, and the programmatic elements of hotel and hospitality.

The dynamic geometry of the gondola lines going up and down the mountain seemed to balance nicely against the perpendicular lines of topography. Here's the first massing/geometric sketch:

This addressed some of the program but not enough. The hotel needed to be added. The vertical element was thought of being a summertime element as a climbing wall. But what if we stacked the hotel there as well?

Not too elegant. The section taken through the mountain topography would also have this strange canyon created between the suspended hotel and the ascending terrain. So lets scrub that idea...

So I tried sliding the hotel up the slope.

It's working now to meet program, but it poses some really tough circulation problems by turning up the slope. Negotiating that as well as working out how the hotel rooms dealt with the steeply banked geometry didn't seem to work so well. Also, the proportion of the 3 squidly hotel bars was awkward. Also, the left most bar as it bent down to meet the original form necessitated another surface to merge into the main element (from sketch 1) that I rather liked. It wasn't balanced in the right way and detracted from the moves I had started with. It also was beginning to become too linear and about this bias towards a serial section that would bend and snake. Not what I was interested in. Surface. It's about the surface.

Ok. This is NOT the surface I was trying to create. But sometimes it has to get ugly before it gets better. Maybe I have to stop turning the hotel up the hill. Stop fighting the topography. Love it. Hug it.

Ah. Now it was starting to work. However, the strong surface quality of the previous scheme had something going for it. The transition between surface continuity at different scales and breaking it apart and into facets or curved surfaces was interesting. This to me seemed too filigreed in the hotel. The even handed approach resulting in pleating wasn't what I wanted at this end. I wanted large, smooth curved surfaces.

So perhaps, slicing and peeling was a better approach:
It'd also provide a system to create aperture in the skin, which I haven't really acknowledged at this point. Perhaps the slicing could even occur at smaller scales for openings and fenestration.

Getting close...

Final Boards:
Board 1
Board 2
Board 3
Board 4

• afterparty

Thanks for sharing this. Impressive work-I enjoy seeing how your process developed.

Are Boards 3 and 4 the same?

A Center for Ants?

Fixed! Thanks for the catch.

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