The culture of making, as I have stated before, has been the reason for my absenteeism from the school blog project over the past few months. This studio course is fairly new to the curriculum at UBC, having only been introduced to the first year requirements 3 years ago. It is an incredible studio that many of the upper years wish they had been able to take. It promotes the development of a design process that prioritizes the implementation of structural systems, an understanding of construction, as well as sequencing in a cumulative design project. Each step of the project was given about two weeks of the semester, maintaining a fast pace and high energy in the studio. We all worked really hard, I hadn’t pulled any all nighters when this semester started, but by the end I had 7 under my belt. This paid off, however, and I feel much more capable in tackling design problems and much further along in the development of a personal design process.
Our first project was the 1:1 shelters that I explained in an earlier post. After this we worked on precedent studies in small groups. The purpose here was to investigate different spanning systems that we could use as the basis for our design projects that made up the remainder of the semester. My group investigated Miguel Fisac’s Hydrographical Institute in Spain, which used a post-tensioned concrete as a method for spanning the laboratory part of the building. Other projects studied Shigeru Ban’s gridshell Japan pavilion, the Olympic Stadium in Munich, and the Helsinki Zoo diagrid lookout tower among others.
The purpose of the next five assignments, was to innovate a structural system that could span a gymnasium and also create a ‘subset’ space, which should comfortably fit 4-5 people. Choosing a structural system to work with was really challenging, all of the precedents were very interesting and each presented unique merits. I was really interested in tensile structures and attempted to use some of Frie Otto’s smaller pavillion’s as a basis for my structural investigations. Without trying however, I ended up developing a gridshell with interior tensile fabric. As my project progressed the tensile fabric became less and less relevant and eventually I was solely working with a gridshell. I then shifted my focus to utilize the Downland Gridshell as precedent to understand basic structural properties and construction techniques.
In each stage of the project new information was given regarding program, requirements, and site and we continued to develop our structural system and subset space into a small community centre with gymnasium, changerooms/washrooms, a kitchen and small meeting space. The idea behind my project was the different ways one could inhabit a gridshell and exist within the structural system, namely under, within, and on the grid. I took a basic cylindrical shape, tilting and tapering in an attempt to create three very different and dynamic spaces within the same structural system. The resultant form was compared to both a ‘sandworm’ from Dune and OMA’s Casa de Musica in Porto.
Here are some of the diagrams and drawings from my final project: