Parinaz Behbahani

Parinaz Behbahani

Laguna Niguel, CA, US


Science Village

The driving force of the project was to create a democratic atmosphere. One that outside people feel welcomed to see the science and the students and faculties, actually using the site, feel equally important in each discipline.
In order to achieve the democratic science village major strategies were implied.

Contrasting to the campus plan of making the buildings bigger and creating a site that is further away from the human scale. The purposed project intends to lower the building heights and to create smaller perceivably buildings to relate more to the human scale and to achieve the village effect. In other words, to bring science closer to people, not “scaring” them away.
Since the large program also had to be considered, the building was anchored a floor below ground, where the entire rigid program resides: labs and support labs. An exterior courtyard was created on the below ground level to allow the light to access the labs,   create a common space for all disciples and cross connections. At the ground level, there are nine “cells” that hold the rest of the program: faculty offices, conference rooms and administration. These buildings are not internally connected. Their physical separation and size is suggesting a thin quality on the ground level.

In order to have equal opportunities for all disciplines, multiple access points to the campus and to allow an easy growth for the future, a cellular strategy was used.  The starting point was a 22’x22’ field to lay the configuration of the building above ground and from there to design buildings that have equal oppotunities. The cellular structure allowed for the desired accessibility and porosity on the site with multiple access points that lead you across the ground plane, below into the sunken courtyard or diagonally to the outdoor café. On the other hand, the public spaces were totally off from the 22’x22’ grid, making them way finding elements; the lecture hall, outside café and student study area.

The internal strategies are also promoting the democratic aim. Large portions of the square footage remain as open plan. The labs have the opportunity to move as they desire and each person working in the lab has the same importance as the other. The open offices are also in the same category while they are also creating student/faculty interaction clusters. The program also extends itself to the outdoors to teaching gardens, shading trees, outdoor seating areas and lookout points. Since internal visual connections were also important in the village scheme, each cell has its own light shaft. This shaft opens up visual connection to the labs and from the labs to the faculty offices, while each space keeps its own functionality.

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Status: School Project
Location: Los Angeles, CA, US