Void and Solid
An Architectural Thesis Anna Knowles-Bagwell
This thesis is an exploration of the relationship between mass and volume and the resulting spatial qualities that are created from the interactions of volumes. By stepping away from highly complex formal architecture, an instead focusing on carving out the interior void first, the form becomes strictly a result of the interior volumes, much like how a fossil fills in around its original shell or bone. This process allows for a single building to have a range of dynamic spaces some of which interact, and some of which are completely separate. The goal of this thesis is to take the process used for the case study models and design an art gallery.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
GALLERY DESIGN DEVELOPMENT GALLERY PERSPECTIVE DRAWING MODEL PHOTOGRAPHS AXONOMETRIC DRAWING FLOOR PLAN DRAWINGS SECTION DRAWING
PROCESS CUBE SERIES
CHARCOAL SERIES THE MAKING AXONOMETRIC DRAWINGS AND PHOTOGRAPHS SCALE FIGURE CUBE PHOTOGRAPHS
DIAGRAM SKETCHES CONCRETE STUDY MODEL PHOTOGRAPHS SCHEMATIC BUILDING PLANS AND SECTIONS
SITE SITE ANALYSIS SITE MAPS SITE SECTIONS SITE PHOTOGRAPHS
APENDIX CARDBOARD MODEL PHOTOGRAPHS CONCRETE STUDY MODEL PHOTOGRAPHS LAYERED SECTION DRAWINGS CHARCOAL DRAWINGS CONCEPTUAL PLAN SKETCHES
The building is composed of six floors which house two essential types of space. One large gallery space, which wraps itself around a central vertical shaft as it progresses upwards and which conceptually represents “the void”. And the private spaces, which consist of offices, storage, mechanical, and circulation, which conceptually represent “the solid”. On the main floor, users enter into a grand atrium where they can purchase tickets before proceeding upwards into the gallery. The floor under the vertical shaft slopes slightly, signaling to the user a shift. It is in this moment that one can look up and see for the first time into the gallery space above. Once in the gallery space, viewers can look up or down from their current floor into other parts of the gallery. The purity of this void space allows for the user to be aware of his location within the building without the presence of way-finding tools. This separation of the two types of spaces also easily allows for the back-of-house to function without interrupting the daily functions of the gallery. To echo this division of space, the exterior form of the building, as well as the interior walls which divide the void from the solid are cast in place concrete. The interior gallery space is signaled on the exterior by segments of large curtain wall glass panels. These panels are hung from the interior of the building and therefore sit back slightly from the concrete edge. The shift in material and facade depth signal for the user a shift in program space within the building.
These charcoal drawings looked at the different ways a void interrupts or relates to a solid and how this is represented in two dimensions. Some of these methods later manifested in three dimensional study models.
The driving force of this design was the process by which it was conceived. Initially the process was a way of looking at the conceptual idea of the relationship between solid and void. However, due to the ideaâ€™s breadth, a set of limits were created from which to test. A series of study models were produced by composing the same four volumes in six different compositions. A box was then built around each composition and they were cast in concrete. After the concrete had set the original compositions were removed, leaving only voids.
The same process was used to design the building as the cube series. In this way, the gallery space was to be the main focus of the building and therefore was the first space to be ordered and designed. After iterating several ways to orient the galleries, it was important that they were all linked in some way so as to create a sense of unity between the different spaces. This gave a driving force to the vertical void within the gallery.
One of the big questions for this project was one of circulation largely due to the gallery space was broken up between multiple floors. Because of this the decision had to be made whether the user moved vertically within the space or if circulation occurred separate from the gallery. Ultimately circulation was moved to be part of the more private programmatic spaces. This kept the conceptual idea of the void more pure and allowed for the gallery space to be uninterrupted visually.
The site for the gallery is located in Southeast Washington, D.C. just a few blocks west of Navy Yard, which historically was the nautical and industrial hub of D.C. on the Anacostia River. In the last two decades, this area has seen mass redevelopment from an industrial sector to a residential and commercial hub. The specific site is a 60,000 square foot block currently being used as an undeveloped parking lot. To its west is the newly constructed Canal Park, a public park which stretches three blocks long and includes a restaurant, several different fountains, and an ice skating rink. To its south is a stretch of office buildings occupied by the U.S. Department of Transportation. To its east sits a combination of office and retail buildings as well as a neighborhood of small row houses. Finally, to the north is another undeveloped parking lot used primarily for residents and employees of the near by commercial spaces. Two key buildings which are visible from the site and help to orient one within the city: the Washington Nationals Baseball Park to the southwest and the Capital Building to the northwest. The gallery, which only takes up about a quarter of the site, sits on the southwest corner of its site so as to engage its two busiest streets and maintain views to the city beyond.
This initial study model looked at how different volumes and planes related to each other which eventually lead to an inverse study with rockite.
The following concrete models studied the idea of subtraction through the process of addition. By creating molds similar to the cardboard one above and casting them in concrete, the models began to speak to the idea of void and solid in a purer language than the previous media of cardboard. This eventually lead to the rockite cube series as the models started to become more about creating volume and space.
Following the cube series, a set of sections was drawn for each cube in an attempt to understand more fully the complexity of the relationships between the different voids and which relationships were most successful. The conclusion was that the most succesful cubes were those that had a balance between void and solid as well as a composition which balanced the amount of overlap there was between the voids.
This second set of charcoal drawings attempted to test the compositional balance between void and solid to test at what point too much or too little matter was being removed. These charcoal drawings strongly influenced an early iteration of the building which attempted to take on its entire site by removing segments of the building itself to emphasis specific views of the city beyond.
Published on Aug 13, 2015