When this project started, my goal was to have a clear direction from the beginning, and I took for this starting point the idea of urban fabric on the Greek island of Santorini. I was interested in stacking, nesting, and complexity in section, and the use of one building's negative space as its neighbor's positive space. I was also interested in the idea of continuous circulation, or circulation spaces that are not separated as a system from dwelling spaces.
Here are the results of the three-week investigation. My projected ended up being about reconciling a bottom-up approach (a little orthogonal module that would aggregate to form bookshelves, stairs, floors, and allow for gaps or apertures) with a top-down approach (of an overall form defining circulation). An intermediate module, or a mid-sized assembly of modules forming a little platform that splits into two stairs, was my tool for bringing these two approaches and scales together. This aggregation is repeated, in different orientations (upside down, rotated) to achieve one of the goals set out for us in the brief: a system creating repetition and variation throughout the length of a "thickened wall," or section of a library facade and the spaces immediately behind it.
The main weaknesses to my scheme were that I developed circulation more than defined places of pause (which were supposed to be spaces for library carrels of different sizes), and--not unrelated--that most of my moves acted in two dimensions, leaving the facade and elements parallel to it entirely flat. The flatness in itself wasn't a problem, and actually I kind of liked its effect on the facade, but the problem was in the fact that the flatness was related to the lack of definition of the carrel spaces.
Anyways, I enjoyed the process, and felt that having a clear goal from the beginning did help me to focus. Not that this prevented a last-minute rush! The final design decisions and all the production still got crammed into the last two days before the review.
On another note, the exhibitions people are putting up a show on Claude Cormier, a landscape architect from my adopted hometown of Montreal! Check out the pink lipstick forest. Cormier gave a lecture at McGill when I was a student there, and he said that the pink color was something he had to gradually warm the client up to. The first time he presented the idea, the tree-trunks were brown, and in each successive meeting he gradually made the color brighter and pinker.
Thanks for reading!
Here's my module.
Here's an early study model of the bottom-up aggregation, looking at the idea of these bifurcating (to use a fancy word) or split-level (to use a vernacular one) stairs.
Here's a concept model of the top-down circulation pattern.
Drawings: elevation, plan, long section, series of short sections.
Here's the facade on the model.
Here's an interior shot of the model.
The Claude Cormier exhibition installation. The pink lipstick forest (part of Montreal's Palais de Congrès, or Convention Center) can be seen in the last photo.
Lectures and exhibitions, news and events, now primarily from the Bay Area! Please note that all live blogs are abridged and approximate. If you want to see exactly what happened, in many cases a video of the event is posted online by the event's hosts.