Structural understanding formed a crucial part of this design studio. Each student was asked to choose a structural system at the starting point. The system which formed the basis of this project is barrel vaults (extrusion of an arch).Throughout history, barrel vaults have worked greatly in terms of achieving large spans, efficient use of materials, and more importantly, interesting spatial experiences. In the project, a variety of barrel vaults intersect at the ground floor level to form an open plan. The size of the barrel vaults was determined by the required spaces on the first floor. The open ground level forms a route of connection between the highway and the private street. It also acts as a recreational space that keeps the site active even when the institute is not in use as it is designed to accommodate multiple exterior activities such as a market, a playground, study areas, and picnic spots.
The design concept is based on the approach of carving out a mass (solid vs. void relationships) to provide the spaces required by the brief. There is a huge contrast between solid and void in this project, particularly in between the ground floor, which is open and sparse, and the first floor, which is closed and dense. Such a relationship was intentional for two reasons. The first was to provide the architectural institution with privacy, whereas the second was to provide the project with an element of mystery as people will be wondering about what exists at the top level. Due to the conceptual lack of openings in the institutions’ walls, natural light penetration formed a challenge. The integration of skylights and courtyards formed the basis of the proposed solution. In addition, to increase the fun element in the project, pyramidal “windows” were distributed across the institution so that users on the first floor could overlook what is happening below (but not vice versa).
The institution can be accessed by two major staircases located at either ends of the site, both leading to a lobby space, whereas an architectural gallery forms the core of the first level and overlooks the two courtyards. Thus, by using the barrel vaults as a primary structural system, the design doubles up the area of the site and results in two unique experiences. The first of which is the recreational space at the ground level, whereas the second is the private architectural institution at the first level.
Project Type: Academic
Program : Architecture
Year of Completion: Third (2015)
Project role: Individual project