Cal Poly Pomona (Alex)



Feb '13 - Apr '14

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    Case Study: Visitor’s Center in Atapuerca

    Alex Gomez
    Aug 6, '13 7:09 PM EST

    Spring 2013 Case Study

    I began this past quarter with a case study. After beginning our research, my partner (Barret Kruggel) and I found the formal characteristics of this visitor’s center far more interesting than the sustainable strategies we were required to focus on. We decided to bypass the sustainable issues initially, ironically we discovered that the sustainable strategies are strongly integrated with the formal concepts.

    This project in Atapuerca, Spain is designed by Mata y Associados in collaboration with A3GM. Being that the Visitor’s Center is located alongside a series of archeological sites, context is an essential part of the design, especially since it serves as a threshold between the caves. Therefore the project’s goal is to define the archeological site and to build relationships with the environment.

    We can see the most evident connection through the subtractions in the building which are representative of the excavations in the neighboring sites. The subtraction technique is continued through the voided patten in the skin with inspiration from local clumps of trees and straw; the characteristics of light shedding through the vegetation is mimicked in the skin. Evidently the voids are slight, subtle and scattered.

    This project uses formal techniques to build symbolic relationships to the environment while addressing sustainable measures which creates a layered connection to the environment, seeing that it preserves its resources.

    Many of the concepts seen in this project were consistent with the firms’ past projects, one of them being Earthwork v. Roofwork. In this case, the roofwork plays the role of the second skin and the earthwork the concrete mass. Although the roofwork appears static from a distance, it holds a dynamic role since its voids wrap around the interstitial space to allow light to penetrate into the outdoor spaces.

    Naturally the groundwork holds a static character but in this project it plays a vital role in experiencing the dynamism of the outer skin. Firstly, the groundwork is cut in plan to increase the interstitial space achieving two outer gathering areas where the user is able to further experience the skin. Secondly, it is consistently encouraging the user to approach the outer areas by framing and exposing the skin at different scales, further emphasizing its complimentary role.

    I have studied projects before but never this deeply, I am grateful that I have because it has shown me how harmonious the relationship between form and function can be, a task that I have found to be very difficult throughout my second year. My partner and I both had a great time with this assignment, we often refer to it because it is powerful in all aspects. Although I have a strong understanding about this project, there are still many questions I have and even after revisiting my notes there are many details that need clarification. While these things may be left unanswered, I have realized that “unanswered questions” will always exist in rich projects.

    Feel free to comment with any questions/suggestions/advice/etc. I would also appreciate any thoughts on the edited photos of the model. (Actual images provided by Archdaily)

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