The End : Architecture + Industrial Design

Parabola, in their lecture they emphasized their advocacy for re-thinking the concept of waste. The concept of designing in a way that takes advantage in a positive manner of water, solar, wind and energy uses. One of the structures they designed that attracted me the most was the creation of their small house which was made to take advantage of its surrounding, especially of the sun.  This architecture is almost like a timepiece that can in a way tell time throughout the day. They way it tells time is by using daylight and trying to make it line up with certain marked areas in the interior surfaces, and at the same time some interior angles of the structure line up with the angles of the sun during the summer and winter solstices as well as the equinox.

This way of designing adds to the architecture as whole because it turns the structure into more than just a space to inhabit. It becomes something that is more than just a shelter; it becomes almost like a clock that not only conveys the time within the day, but also the time of year.

There are also three types of light that define the progression of spaces:

1.Direct light from the sides                                                                                                      2.Diffused light in the center                                                                                                     3.Mapped light from above

There is an observatory located on the north space in here the oculus shapes the sunlight into a beam that tracks through the space, skimming and aligning with the angles of the stair walls and north roof. In the south space, where the conservatory space is located light streams in every hour of every sunny day.

Some of the design concepts are connected by the thread of time: Light and shadow, history, weathering, and memory.

Here are some more images of the light path through the oculus:

Sidwell Friends School

During Lecture we talked about the sustainable approach taken when renovating and adding a new edition to a middle school called Sidwell Friends School located in Washington, DC. One of the major focuses in the design of this project was a “smart water management”. As well as a central courtyard with a rain garden, pond and constructed wetland was designed to utilize storm and waste-water for both ecological and educational purposes. More than 50 plant species, all native to the Chesapeake Bay region were introduced in the landscape and there was extensive use of reclaimed stone for steps and walls and concrete containing recycled slag of walkways.

The center piece of the new middle school is a natural wastewater treatment and reuse system that produces high quality water suitable for non-potable uses. A constructed wetland forms the heart of the system, using biological processes to clean water and serving as living laboratory  where students can learn about biology, ecology and even chemistry.

Another form of sustainable strategies used when renovating the school was the reuse of recycled material. Most of the hardscape elements in the landscape are reclaimed or recycled. Material for the boardwalks and decks is lumber pilings reclaimed from Baltimore Harbor. Stone and steps came from a dismantled railroad bridge  about 200 miles away from the project.


Small Scale, Big Change

This idea has to do with “New architecture of Social Engagement”. It presents eleven projects on five continents that bring innovative architecture to under-served communities. The architects had to address the functional requirements of their design but also aim to have a broad positive effect on the communities they work in, as partners in social, economic and political transformation. These projects also succeed in providing communities not only with physical spaces but with opportunities for self determination and moderators of change. one of the projects i will more closely look at is the one that we briefly looked at in class called: Handmade School

Located in Rudrapur, Bangladesh; Anna Heringer and Eike Roswag completed this projects between 2004 and 2006.

Anna Heringer and Eike Roswag identified a lack of educational opportunities for villagers, in response to this they designed a Handmade School. The structure is made of primarily of earth, which is a traditional building material in the region. To this tradition building material Heringer added local clay, sand, and straw for increased durability. Also, the foundation is made out of bricks in order to strengthen the structure and a plastic moisture barrier  between the foundation and the walls.

In the school, thick earth walls enclose three ground floor classrooms. On the second floor an earthen floor and walls of light and airy bamboo latticework make up the space.


Behnisch Architects

In one of the last lectures we focused on an architecture firm which is one of the most recent firms that has the most sustainable expertise and it’s designs focus on preparing for the future.  I wanted to learn a little bit more about this firm in a more personal level and found an article where they are interviewed in which they state that they do not consider themselves “green architecture”. The partners at Behnisch Architects in Los Angeles, also say within this article that there is nothing predetermined when they incorporate sustainable strategies within their architecture. They just enjoy making use of natural daylight, natural ventilation and healthy environmental and mechanical systems.

Some of their recent works:

1.Police Station project located in Chicago, completed in 2008                                              The government in Chicago has gone through great deals in order to begin to incorporate environmental systems into its civic buildings. Therefore converting this police station into a model of for green design within the city was really important. Behnisch Architects accomplish this design by planning an enclosed courtyard between the detention center and the station house, creating an atrium that acts as an exhaust system and light infiltration point for the entire building.

2. Mill Street Lofts, located in Los Angeles, completed in 2007:                                               This project was located in a long-neglected industrial area of Los Angeles. Benhnish Architects wanted to create a hundred and twenty loft units which had 8 different type of layouts instead of one single configuration within a total of 11 floors. These lofts were designed for the L.A investment company Linear City, which specializes in the reuse of industrial buildings for private apartments. Early designs incorporated natural ventilation, therefore there was no need for air conditioning. They also used geothermal heat through a radiant slab. In the end, the apartments became A/C – optional with sun shaded to regulate heat.

3.Cultural District Riverfront Development, Location Pittsburgh                                             This project is a $460 million dollar green master plan for a neighborhood of seven residential buildings, a street of townhouses, a four-star hotel, and a performing arts center. The complex incorporated a variety of public park and green spaces, some set within the buildings themselves. The main goal for this project is to re-orient the master plan towards the river, establishing park and greenway access to what was once a disposal system for Pittsburgh industry.




“Building Form and the potential for day-lighting”

I have never felt more enlightened in terms of how to further better my architecture project than after reading: Building Form and the potential for day-lighting, which is a chapter from the book “Daylight Design of Buildings” by Baker and Steemers. I could not help but picture my own project when they described the usage to day-lighting, its importance and how to better the quality of luminosity within the building. The reading begins by describing what influences the design of a building and how these boundaries also inform the potential day light that can be captured through apertures. One of the first and “simple” ways to begin to realize where the most light is coming through is by analyzing the plans and sections. “plans and sections of a building have fundamental implications for the degree to which it can be daylit”. At the same time one can design and at the same time be guided by the boundaries created by adjacent buildings or adjacent structures that in one way or another will have some affect on how much light can actually come into a building through the potential amount of apertures.

Baker and Steemers continue on describing how the site itself can pose constraints on the “choice of built form”, which can ultimately influence and inform “the possibilities for optimizing the day lighting”. Another very important influence as mentioned before is the obstruction to the sun and the sky from terrain and other buildings. This is one of the major issues i keep on running into.

My site is  200ft. by 25 ft. making it a somewhat difficult space to work with. The location is New York, New York literally rt next to the Highline. To the west of the site there is a really tall building (like most every building in New York) and the east The Highline obstructs any light coming through within the first 2 floors. These site conditions have been very difficult to deal with especially because one the main elements of my building is a courtyard located on the main floor.

After reading this chapter I slowly began to imagine and figure out ways to enhance the lighting conditions within the courtyard in order for it to not become a dark cold space.

Even though, normally architect do not design in respect to the amount of daylight he or she wants to incorporate in the building, they do first come up with an overall design which  later is drastically altered when considerations of how daylight fits within the building and the program occur. Nevertheless having a preexisting design itself creates constraints to the amount of daylight a building could potentially have. At the same time if daylight becomes a prominent element within the project it can guide and transform the overall architecture. Which is another struggle i have encountered. Even though i want this courtyard to be very well lit and warm, light itself is not an important factor for the architecture. So i must find a way to funnel light all the way from the roof of the building all the way to the bottom.

Continuing with the reading, Baker and steemers explain how roofs can play an important part in reflecting light, especially when they are not horizontal flat roofs. “Single-storey buildings and the top floor of multi-storey buildings have no constraint on plan depth since they can be lit through the roof surface”. Although the glazed openings are distributed over a horizontal surface of the building envelop, the glazed aperture itself does not necesarilly have to be horizontal. Therefore, I plan to change the heavy concrete horizontal roof i currently have and exchange it for a none-horizontal shaped roof to an angled one. Also maybe by changing the materiality to a more reflective material I can more easily control the light that is being funneled all the way to the bottom. Baker and steemer further describe the possibility of different surfaces to achieve this “light control”. Various configurations employ “glazing which are inlclined or vertical, with specific orientations to avoid or encourage solar gain”.

Another important factor is the orientation of my building, where the most important apertures are located in order to gain the correct amount and kind of light. In “Daylight Design of Buildings” they describe the term “orientation” as a way to imply the direction the the main facade faces – mine is currently is facing south in the most narrow part of the site. After finishing this reading i learned the major advantages for the main facades of a building to face north and south, rather than east and west.And even though i located the main facade facing south for different reasons which ultimately serve different purposes it is good to know that now i will be getting strong interesting light into the courtyard from apertures located on floors above it. this is because the sun is low in the sky in the east and west, even in the summer. On the other hand, north-facing windows recieve direct sunlight only in high summer, early morning and the evening. South-facing facades get direct sunlight which can also be controlled by overhangs if the light is not needed nor wanted.

Lightness in the Dark

Professor Sherman’s Lecture in the Dark was really interesting in that not only did he made me realize that having the most light possible in space is not that important, if it does not fit with the program, and that maybe sometimes no light at all is O.k as well but also that the light that we need can be relative to what the eye can perceive. For instance, at first when he turned off all of the lights in the lecture hall it was hard to even see the person sitting in front of me. The whole room was close to being pitch black, and yet very slowly my eyes began to adjust to the very little amount of light that was in the room. Soon figures began to appear and if i focused on a subject for a little bit of time i could distinguish some detail. Even though, this amount of light was not the correct amount of light for the purposes of the room, I think that with just a little bit more light in the room my eyes would have been able to adjust and I would have been able to take notes and what not.

In the reading: Daylight Design of Building, Baker and steemers go through a series of time periods in order to explain the evolution of light and what type of role this element took place in architecture. But before going to specific era there were quotes, one of which was particularly interesting to me.

“… Architecture is the masterly, correct and magnficent play of volumes brought together in light…”

Le Corbusier

First, Baker and Steemer discuss light in terms of vernacular architecture. How this element can be used for a very simplistic need of using natural light (the sun): In order to produce light and shadow to reach comfort within a building. ” The sun’s energy needs to be selectively controlled through design to ensure shade in the summer and solar warmth in the winter”.

Soon enough light became more important than just a need for controlling the climate and being comfortable. Throughout history light has always had in one way o another aesthetics purposes. As Baker and Steemer mention, the egyptions used light to illuminate the interior of their temples by “introducing the light into deep plans via clerestory elements consisting of narrow slots carved into stone slabs”. These slabs were not made to provide light in order make the interior spaces warmer. “The intensity and location of light” had other puposes which were to “reinforce the axis of the main processional rout”

The Romans used the light not to make some sort of dramatic statement, as did the Egyptians or Greeks within their architecture. The Romans were most interested in ” the opening up of the architecture, with glazed arched windows facing the early afternoon sun ”

Gothic architecture used light to portray symbolism and imagery of light and dark within its architecture. Although similar to Gothic architecture in terms of using light for symbolism, Baroque architecture takes a more 3 dimensional experience by using light in a more dynamic way within a space.

Personally, i am recently struggling how to control light within my current studio project. Having my sight being next located next to the Highline in New York city, where adjacent building are extremely high i find it difficult to funnel a large amount of light to the main bottom floor, which is mostly an open courtyard.  I decided to make most of the central spaces fairly open in order to get the most sunlight, yet it is still not enough to make the space warmer in the winter. I also need that space to be bright in order to be a welcoming place where people can gather. I think, moving forward with this idea i am going to play with the materiality of the exterior of the building to be able to control light all the way to the bottom.

Section of my building thus far: