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CENTRE OF RESEARCH AND EDUCATION FOR AUTISM

Anri van der Wath

Sculpting perspectival différance through the mind-body dialectic


CENTRE OF RESEARCH AND EDUCATION FOR AUTISM Sculpting perspectival diffĂŠrance through the mind-body dialectic

This dissertation is submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree M. Arch. (Prof). All the work contained in this document is my own except where otherwise acknowledged. Department of Architecture, Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, University of the Free State. Anri van der Wath // 2011014210 // anri.watha@gmail.com

With special thanks to my supervisors: Prof. J. D. Smit; H.B. Pretorius; J. I. Olivier; H. Raubenheimer. Date of submission: 14 October 2016. Declaration of original authorship: The work contained in this dissertation has not been previously submitted to meet requirements for an award at this or any other institution of higher education. To the best of my knowledge, this dissertation contains no material previously published or written by another person except where due reference is made. Acknowledgement of editorial and proof-reading services: Elri Marais; Jako Olivier; Martie Bitzer; Jan Nel Acknowledgement: I express my very profound gratitude to my family, with special thanks to my Dad for providing me with unfailing support and continuous encouragement throughout my years of study and through the process of researching and writing this thesis. This accomplishment would not have been possible without them.


Figure 0.1: 1 in 100 persons diagnosed within the autism spectrum in South Africa II

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PREAMBLE

My early investigation into and inspiration for the proposed design was sparked when reading an article by the mother of a three-year-old autistic boy, looking for a school which could accommodate her son. She moved from Bloemfontein to Pretoria (Mamelodi), but to her disappointment, she discovered that the ignorance about autism stretches much further than the suburb from which she came. In light of her son’s difficulties with communication, social interaction and cognitive thinking (imagination), she stated that “people here are hitting my son over taking a bottle of cold drink without asking, and accusing him of stealing – to him that is a sign to me of thirst.” She questioned when the neurotypical society would be made aware of autism and when our societies will start providing early intervention treatment to such individuals (Association for Autism, 2012: online). I propose designing a centre of research and education for autism, located at the edge of the Bloemfontein CBD. The purpose of the design is to create a platform that initiates a dialectic dialogue between autists and the neurotypical urban culture and represents an alternative perspective of the cityscape. The platform allows differences between opposites to be celebrated and respected, while providing a bridge for the interaction and integration of the two groups.

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PROJECT RATIONALE AND STATISTICS

Figure 0.2: Autistic reactions as a result of neurological impairments caused by deficits in prefrontal cortex

Figure 0.3: Disorders listed on the autism spectrum and the affected skills (Marchi, 2013: online) IV

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Figure 0.4: Spatial experience of sensorial stimulation to autists

Figure 0.5: Considerations when desinging for people with autism

Figure 0.6: Design application considerations EDUCATION AND RESEARCH AUTISM

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TABLE OF CONTENTS Introduction viii Document framework x Research methodology xi

PART 1

PART 2

CHAPTER 1: CHALLENGES 2 1. Typology Client and users 4 Client brief 5 2. Topology 6 3. Morphology 7 4. Tectonics 7

CHAPTER 3 16 1. Conceptual framework: A glossary 18 2. Touchstone 19 3. Conceptual ideas 22

CHAPTER 2 8 1. Research question 10 2. Project aims 11

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CHAPTER 4 28 1. Typology 1.1. Investigating the client and user 30 1.2. Perception within the urban identity 31 1.3. Exploring similar building types 32 1.4. Accommodation list 40 2. Topology 42 3. Grounding morphology 65 4. Tectonics 84


PART 3

CHAPTER 5: DESIGN SYNTHESES 1. Concepts initiating design morphology 2. Building as a bridge between opposites 3. An alternative design consideration 4. Introducing cohesive communal spaces: a courtyard 5. Building as a town square 6. Building as a canvas opening up its boundaries 7. Towards a final design methodology

100 102 104 116 118 120 122 132

CHAPTER 6: TECHNICAL RESOLUTION 1. Setting 2. Utility and space enhancement 3. User behaviour and requirements 4. Form and function 5. Circulation 6. Structural detailing 7. Building services 8. Barrier-free environment 9. Sustainability goals 10. Reaching the sustainability goals with specialised structural building systems 11. Parking requirements

150 152 154 156 161 164 165 168 169 169

PART 4

170 173

REFLECTION AND EVALUATION

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LIST OF REFERENCES

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INTRODUCTION Originating from the Greek word autos, autism refers to the self, isolated from social interaction and withdrawn into a solitary world. Autism spectrum disorder is a general term which includes a range of neurodevelopmental disorders of various intensities—from low- to high-functioning autism or Asperger’s syndrome to various other brain developmental wwdisorders. For the purpose of this dissertation, autism refers to Asperger’s syndrome and high-functioning autism where the autists have average or above-average intelligence. Fluctuating at this end of the spectrum, autists experience either hyper- or hyposensitivity (over-sensitivity or lack of sensitivity and acknowledgement) to environmental stimuli (WebMD, 2015: online). Due to the detachment and lack of self-sufficiency in the early life of an individual diagnosed with autism, a problem has been identified in the South African urban culture: the inseparable dialogue between person and surroundings has caused the urban culture to separate autistic persons from the urban lifestyle. This dissertation investigates architecture as a vessel that has the ability to reduce the barriers between autistic individuals and the city lifestyle, which can then allow for the development and incorporation into the urban economy and settlement of people with communication and interactive impairments. The dissertation explores the influence of architecture on inhabitants and questions to what extent architecture could bring about an altered experienced perception of space in its users. While the number of people diagnosed with autism is on the increase, the development of facilities supporting autistic individuals has, in most regions, been neglected altogether. Therefore, the necessity of creating an environment supporting and enhancing the lives of such persons by means of architecture is greatly needed.

Figure 0.7: An abstracted experience of space. Art by an autist: Wasili Kadinsky. (Redtree Times, 2013: online) VIII

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Dr Dawid Griessel ([n.d.]: online), a neurodevelopmental paediatrician and vice president of Autism South Africa, states that, in South Africa, one in a hundred children are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and 400 children are born with autism every year in the Free State alone. Although several classes have been developed at schools in Bloemfontein, such as Lettie Fouché and Martie du Plessis special schools, as well as classrooms set apart for autistic children at Willem Postma Primary School, the unfortunate truth is that there are no sufficient educational and research facilities to provide for the development of such special needs children in the Free State. During my research, I found that autism is caused by a disturbance of the brain’s development at an early age due to the “interaction between genes and the environment”, whereby an individual’s development of social and cognitive interaction is influenced by the surrounding environment (Griessel, [n.d.]: online). Because architecture to a large extent neglects its accountability when it comes to moulding such environments, which accommodate our disabled population, I propose designing a centre of research and education for autistic children in the urban setting of Bloemfontein, providing the opportunity of dialectic interaction between autists and the urban society. Due to the complexity of the disorder, the understanding of architecture should be analysed and re-approached in such a way that it reassembles a canvas to accommodate such unique and complex individuals. Not only does architecture have the ability to evoke our senses and emotions, but it also influences behaviour and perceptional indifference. Therefore, architecture has the responsibility of capturing and reassembling an abstracted experience into the coherent mind-body understanding of the autist within the surrounding environment.

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DOCUMENT FRAMEWORK This dissertation investigates the perception autistic individuals have of the built environment, and its influence on the lives of such individuals. Focusing on the effect of the surrounding environment, architecture creates a platform upon which one can ground the promotion of interaction between autistic persons and neurotypical urban setting and of their involvement in that setting. The development is based on the idea of creating the platform of interaction between autistic and neurotypical persons by proposing a centre of research and education for autism on the periphery of the Bloemfontein CBD. Architecture then creates the opportunity for the development of the ability of ASD persons to contribute more widely to their society. The dissertation is structured in four main parts which are then subdivided according to the architectural elements of typology, topology, morphology and tectonics within each. Parts one and two of the proposal are established on the basis that an interactive dialogue of the mindbody phenomenon within the experienced space offers the opportunity to develop autists’ social cognitive perspective and independence within the South African city. As an extension of this, the dissertation explores the ability of space to act as a bridge between two individuals on the basis of an interconnected dialectic social dialogue between opposites. Semi-private and public encountering spaces join the scheme with the topological CBD setting and allows interactive dialogue amidst work and play. Typology refers to the type of institution that is investigated and requires that similar design solutions are studied by means of precedent studies. Not only is it important to address the typology of an institute, it is also crucial to consider the impact of the transformative effects of stimulative architecture on sensitive ASD users and to respond appropriately through design. Therefore, the designer has a responsibility to mould the dynamics of space, morphological compilation and tectonic solution, which will support the user’s treatment. Part three synthesises the investigative design process and considerations while making continuous reference to their structural solutions. Here the solution to the design challenges and theoretical underpinning is displayed and established in a final design outcome. The fourth part concludes with an evaluation of and reflection on the success of the design and initial aims of the development.

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RESEARCH METHODOLOGY During the investigation of the perception of spatial organisation, several fundamentals of design will be considered for the purpose of establishing areas for further exploration and grounding the design solution. These primary matters include carrying out research on: what will be designed for who, how it will become part of an existing landscape and what structural solutions will be used in order to achieve the design. These broad design considerations will be investigated by considering the logic behind the type of building (typology), the topography and character of the landscape (topology), the composition of the building form (morphology) and, lastly, the method of construction (tectonics). Originating from an interest in the way in which autists experience the everyday world, a design methodology is compiled which will assist in discovering alternative sources of knowledge and conceptual approaches to support design decisions throughout the dissertation. The research methods that are employed include the following: - A “touchstone�, depicting the essence of what the scheme will attempt to capture, forms the basis of the conceptual approach and acts as the starting point for sculpting the design process. - A conceptual framework explores various initial ideas and captures the essence of the landscape while considering different responses to the context overall . These initial ideas are explored through precedent studies and theoretical considerations, which will all in turn affect the developed response. - Architectural precedent and case studies, which include the investigation of similar existing building types and design approaches, are made in order to assist in the formulation of the necessary accommodation list and requirements of the design. - A site investigation is conducted, considering both quantitative (physical measurements) and qualitative (experienced characteristics) information of the context. - A critical and creative investigation of literature, formulated in order to better understand and reflect the phenomenological experience of the user, considers various aspects of the user and the surrounding landscape, and proposes a reaction to these aspects. - Two interviews (with Claire Allan (2016), an autism specialist, and Dr Dawid Griessel (2016), a neurodevelopmental paediatrician) were conducted and one seminar (presented by Prof P.J. de Vries (2016), a professor of child and adolescent psychiatry) was attended upon commencing the challenge of design in order to better understand the requirements of a centre for autism.

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PART 1 XIV

chapter 1: challenges

1. Typology Client and users Client brief 2. Topology 3. Morphology 4. Tectonics

chapter 2

1. Research question 2. Project aims

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4 5 6 7 7

10 11


Part 1 starts by defining the challenges and subsequent aims of the project and identifying the questions relating to the building type of an institution. The purpose is stripped into the essence of what an institution ought to represent and allows a re-appropriated consideration thereof. When investigating the type of the building, several challenges present themselves in choosing a site which best represents the users. Topological considerations refer to the qualities of the terrain which will accommodate the facility. A variety of elements within the categories of physical measurable and experienced characteristics pose challenges which will drive both the form and possible structural solution of the proposed facility. After stating the challenges that will be dealt with, a research question that endeavours to capture the essence of the proposal is formulated in Chapter 2. A series of aims reflecting the challenges that will be faced are listed in order to allow for a structured flow of problem-solving considerations leading to a desired solution.

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chapter 2

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challenges 1 typology 2 topology morphology 3 4 tectonics

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1 TYPOLOGY

The typological classification of the scheme is that of an educational institute merged with a research component. Several existing archetypal requirements are set in place in order to successfully achieve the necessary functioning of such a typology. The challenges that both client and user propose play an essential role in determining the brief, aims and, finally, the design solution of the project. CLIENT Autism South Africa, funded by the Free State Department of Health, forms the client body, and it strives to achieve a society that includes persons with autism spectrum disorder. The organisation presents autists with opportunities to reach their full potential within South African communities. The client, represented by Sandy Usswald, National Director, and Mrs Selinah Jele, Head of the Free State Regional Office, conceptualised the challenge of designing a centre to promote ASD awareness, education, therapy and support for children in the Free State Province, while providing the necessary space to facilitate research. USERS The purpose of the building is to act as a platform for the educational and therapeutic needs of autists (who recognise the world entirely differently from people with a neurotypical perspective), while assisting in the research and community support of such individuals. As a result of their magnified experience of sensorial stimulation, a sensitive but playful design approach is needed in order to fully consider the special needs of the individuals attending the school. The complexity of designing such a scheme lies in creating a building that allows the barriers between autistic children and the urban public to be reduced by permitting interaction to take place through semi-private and public spaces.

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BRIEF The client’s brief requested the development of a centre facilitating education and therapy for autistic persons, including classrooms and recreational facilities and motor, hydro and sensory therapy. The centre should accommodate individuals from age three to twenty-one, while also having the capacity for professional research on autism. The client invited an interaction-based design solution which will allow integration between neurotypical and autistic individuals based in the South African city. Listed as one of the therapy initiatives, an integrative community garden, which flows out of the heart of the scheme into the public domain, is necessary for both therapy and for enabling dialectical interplay between two opposites. RATIONAL AND ONTOLOGICAL CHALLENGES The making of place in the form of an institute for autism challenges the prototypical architectural considerations of what an institution ought to comprise. The architectural compilation and ordering of space of the centre is challenged by several physical and experienced design elements and confronts what is considered to be a typical institutional and educational facility design. In order to experience safety and a sense of control, an autist organises space by finding hidden order in the underlying chaotic nature of the urban landscape. My challenge is therefore that architecture for an autism institute needs to consider the same principles of rhythm, balance and uncomplicated organisation, while preventing the users from fixating on these aspects. This proposes the idea of creating a compositional organisation of space on the edge between hill and city which has the ability to join the user’s nature of Being with its conflicting neurotypical environment. As a result, a respected celebration of perspectival differences between opposites is initiated.

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2 TOPOLOGY The investigation into the most suitable site to accommodate the chosen scheme poses the first challenge due to the need to choose a site that best relates to and describes the character of its users. Several hillocks protrude from the flat Free State landscape, displaying the same quality of displacement that autistic individuals experience within their environment. While the displacement of land creates an opportunity of seeing an alternative perspective from above, so too an autistic individual’s unique character can excel within the urban society when she protrudes through the skin of social indifference. RATIONAL AND ONTOLOGICAL CHALLENGES The chosen site nestles itself into a hillock between the historical fort and the educational node of Motheo FET Vocational Training College, situated in the Bloemfontein CBD. This specific location allows for the particular character of the users to be displayed, which presents me with the task of introducing the opportunity of interaction between the users and the sensorially stimulating urban society. In light of autists’ sensitivity to sensorial stimulation, the site, located on the CBD’s periphery, is subjected to various noise sources which need to be addressed. The challenge is creating architecture that tucks itself into the sloping site on the edge of the hillock, allowing an alternative perspective on the surrounding city, and that is able to become one with its natural (physical) and social environment, yet without overpowering the context.

Figure 1.1: Site location on edge between natural hillock and Bloemfontein CBD 6

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3 MORPHOLOGY

The topology of the site, situated at the intersection of a hill and a city, creates the morphological opportunity of weaving the building and landscape into unity. This compositional organisation of space in the natural setting proposes the opportunity to join the user and the landscape. RATIONAL CHALLENGES The idea of architecture as interactive and integrative space poses the challenge of creating the necessary calm and quiet setting on the periphery of the vibrant city. The building’s form and orientation is guided by the aforementioned idea in order to produce the essential characteristic of a tranquil setting while allowing a dialogue of infiltration of spaces. The topological setting proposes a building that can be knitted into the existing urban fabric, allowing for the unification of both structure and user with the city.

4 TECTONICS RATIONAL CHALLENGES Extending from the morphological considerations, the tectonic solutions of these considerations form an integral part of the design. Typically, educational facilities resemble a monolithic entity of power displayed in essence. Such a scheme design is challenged by the complexity of analysing the changeability and adaptability of structure to facilitate the unique and complex understanding of the users. The equidistance between the essence of cityscape and natural setting has the responsibility of meeting the structural requirements of specific facilities for the building typology, while using a re-appropriated tectonic solution to fit the adaptable and integrative dialectic dialogue of structure and surroundings facilitating work and play. Endeavoring into a tangible outcome, I am challenged to consider the dialogue between the former social and physial elements and re-assemble them into a physical tectonic resolution displaying an appropriate use of materials and structural systems imitating the same character of such.

Figure 1.2: Site location map on edge between nature and Bloemfontein CBD (Google Maps, 2016: online)

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chapter 8

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research questions 2 aims

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1 RESEARCH QUESTION How can sculpting the perspectival diffĂŠrance through the mind-body dialectic celebrate the difference between opposites and provide a bridge for the interdependent integration of the two?

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2 AIMS TYPOLOGY The design of an educational institute for autism aims to reflect the sensitive requirements of the designed space for users with specific needs. Instead of generating a sterile institutional enclosure, the architectural design aims to create a unifying platform between user and surrounding community. TOPOLOGY Necessitated by the aim of dissolving and perforating the sensorial stimulation from the vibrant inner city, numerous thresholds and spaces of interaction is needed. Therefore, the chosen site is located at the urban periphery of Bloemfontein. The topological objective of the proposed site (in its location at the edge between vibrant city and quiet natural landscape), initiates the design possibility of a building as vessel that harmoniously provides a bridge for the detached user to her environment. In order to develop the independence and interaction of autistic individuals within the urban context, the design platform’s purpose is for each occupant to become a part of the urban life. By weaving itself into the surroundings and urban social character, the development aims to create a space where the users are recognised in society. MORPHOLOGY By investigating the characteristics and requirements of the users and by re-appropriating the archetypical institution, user needs and location determines the architectural form-giving. In order to display the character of the individuals accommodated within the centre in dialogue with the chaotic character of the urban surroundings, I aim to investigate a morphological design approach imitating the tension between entities in dialogue, through the manipulation of perspective experience. TECTONICS The tectonic aim of allowing users to playfully interact with the structure and adapt to their surroundings is an integral part of portraying the essence of the users’ requirements. The unique approach of expressing such essence needs to be evident, from the structural assembly in its entirety to the finest detailing of the design. The tectonic approach of the morphological solution, imitating the entities in dialogue, needs to allow for the users’ experience and consequent expression to be captured and portrayed from the onset of a conceptual consideration to the final design detailing. Considering various materials in varying spaces in dialogue allow these considerations to be addressed and poses the opportunity of portraying the morphological essence of the design.

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chapter 3

PART 2

1. Conceptual framework: A glossary 18 2. Touchstone 19 3. Conceptual ideas 22

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chapter 4

1. Typology 1.1. Investigating the client and user 30 1.2. Perception within the urban identity 31 1.3. Exploring similar building types 32 1.4. Accommodation list 40 2. Topology 2.1. Macro context 42 2.2. Micro context 48 3. Grounding morphology 3.1. Perception 3.2. Cartesian duality 3.3. Dialectics and dialogue of the urban identity 3.4. Sensory and social integration depicted as a painting 3.5. Considering the edges of architecture 3.6. Painting the autistic apprehension 3.7. Intense world theory vs the educational environment 3.8. The school as a city

66 68 69 70 73 74 75 76

4. Tectonics 4.1. Structural touchstone 84 4.2. Construction precedent study 86 EDUCATION AND RESEARCH AUTISM


A CHANGEABLE PERSPECTIVE Figure 2.1: Perspective view of monstrous bridges stretching far into the distant landscape

“When removed from all scale defining elements, the viewer is left to make his own presumptions of the surrounding space according to her perspective.”

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EXPLORATION AND GROUNDING In order to develop a suitable and structured approach that will assist in overcoming the design challenges identified in part one, a touchstone, portraying the essence of the design’s purpose, is built and creates an initial reference point from which the conceptual framework could extend. From these conceptual ideas, further research into conventional institutional design is carried out and assists in the formulation of a list of facilities to be accommodated within the project. The investigation is done in order to understand the workings of a school catering for children with special needs and to explore the possibility of creating architecture that assists in the social unification of autists and neurotypicals. Several precedent studies are used as the main investigative tools for exploring similar building types, either typologically linked, or similar to the sense of interaction and integration between opposites I address within the design. The site is analysed from a macro scale to an in-depth investigation of its micro context. Firstly, a quantitative analysis displaying the physical characteristics of the site is done, followed by a personal reflection on and analysis of the perceived experiences on the site. These analyses are done so as to discover the opportunities hidden within the site and are later used as a method of establishing a unique morphological solution. After investigating several precedents and conducting the site analysis, the morphological approach to designing a school is explored, based on a literature review of sources dealing with a unique approach to morphology. Acknowledging the pragmatics of designing an institution, the theoretical grounding challenges the conventional considerations of a school and allows the development of a new understanding thereof. The research process focuses on establishing a new perspective on institutional design that would meet the requirements of the client’s brief. The structural considerations of the school cannot be separated or distanced from its functional requirements and the morphological solution thereof. Exploring the tectonic approach is an integral basis for tying together the interdependent building type, site topology and morphological considerations. A construction touchstone is built as a method of investigating the structural essence of the scheme, interconnected with the building type, and reveals various tectonic opportunities that the building could adapt along the design process.

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A CHANGEABLE PERSPECTIVE Figure 2.2: Perspective view of pedestrian bridges in near proximity

“It is only when an element of recognisable scale or proportion is acknowledged that the viewer recognises her surroundings from a familiar perspective.”

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chapter 16

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conceptual framework 2 touchstone 3 conceptual ideas

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1 CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK - GLOSSARY AUTISM A mental condition that is presented from the age of three and is characterised by difficulties in communication, social relationships with others and formulating abstract concepts presented in imagination (Association for Autism, 2012: online). DUALITY/ DUALISM / DUALISTIC [MIND-BODY PHENOMENA] Abstracted from Descartes, Cartesian dualism refers to the ideology that the mind and body function as separate entities, without interchange. Duality posits that there is a continuous two-way interaction between the mind and the body, although they are ontologically distinct substances (Skirry, 2011: online). DIALECTICS The discourse or existence of opposing social forces and concepts between two entities that hold different points of view on a subject, wishing to establish a central point of agreement (Leslie, 2003: online). DIALOGISM An approach that “recognises the multiplicity of perspectives and voices” (Robinson, 2011: online). DIFFÉRANCE A French term, coined by Jacques Derrida, that deconstructs a critical outlook on the interrelationship between written text and meaning. The symbol of an object is only understood because of the context in which it is seen. The term différance refers to “difference and deferral of meaning” (Trifonas, 2002: online). NEUROTYPICAL A term, used by the autistic community, that refers to people who are not on the autism spectrum: “neurotypical individuals often assume that their experience of the world is either the only one or the only correct one” (Moskowitz, 2010: online)

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2 TOUCHSTONE A touchstone is described and used as the reference point of measurement, and its purpose is to determine the quality of an item. Initially, a touchstone, which is a black siliceous stone related to flint, was used to determine the purity of another mineral, such as silver or gold, by examining the trace remaining on the stone after being chafed by the metal (MerriamWebster Dictionary, 2015: online). In the architectural sense, a touchstone is used to portray the essence of the scheme and stands as the point of reference to which the design is constantly referred back. Le Corbusier states that the architect, fuelled by the intuition if his/her spirit, initiates the arrangement of forms and spaces so as to evoke the underlying senses and emotions of the inhabitant. These formalised relationships and orders awaken the oscillating echoes within us and present a yardstick that assists in the measurement of our position within the world that surrounds us. The architect moulds a synchronised movement and understanding of the world within us and awakens our response to space and its organisational beauty (Le Corbusier, 1970: 7). He continues to describe architecture as the “pure creation of mind� and labels the architect’s touchstone as silhouette and form. He defines form as being free of all constraint and says that the architect either reveals her/himself as engineer, accustomed to fixed knowledge and dimensions, or as artist, who no longer considers tradition nor construction but paints the canvas beyond the edged lines of utilitarian needs (Le Corbusier, 1970: 11). Although the autist finds comfort in the knowledge of organised establishments, she also has the ability to discover the hidden beauty within the finer artistic detail of logical architecture.

Figure 3.1: Discovering order within the chaotic experience of the urban space EDUCATION AND RESEARCH AUTISM

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Balls in static state

Balls in static state

Ordered waves

Chaotic arrangement

Ordered lines

Metal balls fixed at different levels are suspended from a triangular frame representing the urban landscape. Due to the different placements at specific levels, each weight oscillates at a different speed after being set into motion simultaneously. Certain patterns are created at specific intervals, displaying, in turn, ordered compilation and patterns as well as chaos. It is only when the observers position themselves correctly that their perspective allows them to notice this interchanging repetition of arrangements. The oscillating weights are hidden and revealed by vertical screens, and they allow the observer to be surprised by each emerging image within the pendulum wave.

Figure 3.2: Oscillating arrangement of balls 20

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The touchstone portrays finding and creating order in a seemingly disorganised urban setting. Autists perceive pattern, rhythm and order that are hidden in the everyday urban culture and landscape. At first glance, the CBD exhibits chaos, but when looking closer, noticeable organisation is found. The mirrors juxtaposed against each other on either end of the frame allow an infinite echo of reflections that represent discovering the essence of both autistic individuals and the neurotypical urban setting in dialogue.

Figure 3.3: Touchstone representing the

observer’s perception of space within the city

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3 CONCEPTUAL IDEAS - INTERACTION - INFILTRATION - SYNERGY - JOINED - BLENDING - FUSE - COMBINATION - AMALGAMATION The concept process developed from three main ideas, namely integration, tension and dualism between autists and the neurotypical surrounding setting. These ideas were directly derived from the proposed site in order to capture the essence of place from the onset.

INTEGRATION

The first concept involves the interpretation of the interaction with, and integration of, autistic persons into the South African city. Individual lines fused together form and display the interconnectivity of separate entities that appear unified. The arrangement of boundaries and edges invite infiltration, which in turn evokes interaction and discourse between autistic and neurotypical and between nature and city. PLATFORM OF INTERACTION

NATURE

CITY

Figure 3.4: Perspective platform for interaction between city and natural hillock 22

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Figure 3.5: Architecture as platform for interaction and integration

CITY

NATURE

PLATFROM

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Figure 3.6: Artistic portrayal of integrative lines within the proposed side

Figure 3.7: Model lines stretching between hill and city, allowing infiltration and interaction between opposites EDUCATION AND RESEARCH AUTISM

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- DIALOGISM - PRESSURE - FORCE - STRETCH - BRIDGE - BINDING - HARMONY - CABLE - ASTRICTION -

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TENSION

As a series of gaps is perceived between neurotypicals and autists, the second concept displays the tension between the two. City and nature, inclusion and separation, adaption and disregard, order and chaos are bound together in relation to one another, and architecture acting as a bridge is created that stretches between two opposites. The concept represents the idea of creating a centre that allows for the unification between entities in dialogue.

Figure 3.8: Dialogue between opposing entities in tension. (Harding, 2012: online) Sketched and edited by author.

FIXED ENTITIES

ION

TENSIO

N

S TEN

Figure 3.9: Tension between conflicting entities 24

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Figure 3.10: Artistic portrayal of tension between nature and city on the proposed side

Figure 3.11: Model bridging over site displaying tension between building and landscape, autist and neurotypical, urban and natural.

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- MIND.BODY - RELATIONSHIP - BINARY - PAIRED - POLARITY - AMBIVALENCE - DICHOTOMY - OPPOSITES - DIFFERENCE Figure 3.12: Complex perspective view

Figure 3.13: Simple view from side

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DUALISM

The mind-body perspective as perceived by an autistic person is captured in the third concept. The relationship between mind and body, indicated by experience and reaction to the perceived experience, mirrors that of complexity and simplicity. The concept represents a complex skin which covers a simplistic inner understanding of spatial arrangement and portrays the uniqueness and complexity within the individuals. Instead of distinguishing between the three concepts as separate ideas, the elements became a process which has the ability to guide the building’s morphological aspects. From integration to tension, the conceptual development guided the notion of a dualistic dialogue between inner self and surroundings, as well as between the natural setting and the surrounding city. A combination of concepts therefore formed a single entity that considers numerous factors of the scheme.

Figure 3.14: arrangement of simplistic lines creating the morphological compilation 26

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Figure 3.15: Artistic expression of simple boxes intersected by diagonal lines

Figure 3.16: Model displaying arrangement of the simplistic inner understanding of a complex surrounding environment. [Basic boxes suspended from complex adaptable & changeable skin]

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chapter 28

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1

Typology 1.1. Investigating the client and user 1.2. Perception within the urban identity 1.3. Exploring similar building types 1.4. Accommodation list

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Topology 2.1. Macro context 2.2. Micro context

3

Grounding morphology 3.1. Perception 3.2. Cartesian duality 3.3. Dialectics and dialogue of the urban identity 3.4. Sensory and social integration depicted as a painting 3.5. Considering the edges of architecture 3.6. Painting the autistic apprehension 3.7. Intense world theory vs the educational environment 3.8. The school as a city

4

Tectonics 4.1. Precedent study 4.2. Structural touchstone EDUCATION AND RESEARCH AUTISM

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1 TYPOLOGY 1.1 INVESTIGATING THE CLIENT AND USER The project’s design depends heavily on the client’s main objective of “achieving a society in which persons with Autism Spectrum Disorder enjoy all the rights and opportunities to meet their needs and fulfil their potentials, throughout their lives, as loved and valued members of their families and communities” (Autism South Africa, 2016: online). Motivated by the integration of autists into the everyday urban society, Autism South Africa, working in conjunction with the Free State Department of Health, strives to contribute to both the national and international research expertise on autism, while keeping their focus on local and regional opportunities and challenges for autism within the South African city. The clients envisioned designing a building which is approachable to the neurotypical public, while allowing for private education and semi-public areas that encourage interaction with the surrounding social context to take place.

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promote awareness and integration of ASD individuals - ARCHITECTURE to facilitate: education therapy family support research community involvement


1.2 PERCEPTION WITHIN THE URBAN IDENTITY The mind is regarded as a perceptual mechanism that allows for the mental processing of thought and consciousness. At the same time, the body functions as a result of the arrangement and interconnectivity of neurons structured within the brain (McLeod, 2007: online). The mindbody dialogue investigates the interaction between the two and considers its influence on one’s cognitive perspective of the social surroundings. According to Dr Griessel (2010: online), autism is caused by a disturbance of the brain’s development at an early age due to the “interaction between genes and the environment”. Like neurotypical persons, autistic individuals’ development of social and cognitive interaction is influenced and altered by the surrounding environment. In autists, the brain processes the sensory experience and information differently to that of a neurotypical person, and this leads to a different perception of the environment. Due to this alternative sensory processing method and tension between body (experiencing the physical environment) and mind (processing of information), autism influences an individual’s cognitive ability, personality expression and social behaviour. Although architecture cannot cure autism, it provides a platform to develop such persons’ social interactive and communication abilities while exposing them to sensorial stimuli which could develop coping mechanisms within the surrounding environment.

Figure 4.1: Neurological sensory experience of surrounding environment and interaction between autistic and neurotypical.

“Investigating an interactive dialogue of the mind-body phenomenon and its influence on an alternative social cognitive perspective.”

Together with nature, the built setting forms this surrounding environment and therefore has the ability to act as a platform for the promotion and development of interaction between “the self” (autistic) and “the other” (neurotypical). The understanding and enhancement brought about by this interaction can reduce the impact of the disorder on a person diagnosed with ASD. This can be achieved by creating a place responding to the educational needs as well as the social and perceptive abilities of such individuals. The building becomes the vessel through which the users sculpt their identity within the urban space. EDUCATION AND RESEARCH AUTISM

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1.3 Exploring similar building types INVESTIGATING THE INTEGRATION AND INTERACTION BETWEEN BUILDING AND ENVIRONMENT ON VARIOUS LEVELS

BRATEJORDET SKOLE (High School) WHITE ARKITEKTER LOCATION: old industrial area of Strømmen, ± 20 kilometrEs from Oslo, Norway. Situated between city and natural setting. COMPLETED: 2014

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Figure 4.2: Aerial view of Strømmen (GoogleMaps, 2016: online) 32

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4

3

2 1

Identification of topology: OLD INDUSTRIAL AREA Figure 4.3: Site location on edge between nature and city

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Highly commended for the holistic approach of “frames and levels�, the design is grounded on the principles of clear structures and spatial thresholds which act as natural boundaries instead of creating distinct edges that separate school and community. This approach allows for a tranquil and safe learning environment, enabling students to focus on their studies without excluding them from the surrounding community. A transition from the town into the classroom takes on the form of four distinct spaces, namely the play yard, the plateau, the box and the classroom (Archdaily, 2016a: online).

Figure 4.4: Perspective view of approach from public exterior into school. Spatial thresholds in four distinct spaces

1. Play yard 2. Plateau 3. The box 4. Classroom EDUCATION AND RESEARCH AUTISM

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Leaving the surrounding community area, the users enter the school yard, which acts as the first changeover zone. Sheltered within the L-shaped building morphology and set beside the alignment of trees demarcating the edge between public exterior and private school yard, two south-facing fields, alluding to the agricultural character of the surrounding landscape, incorporate recreational facilities and allow for a subtle transition of spaces to flow into one another.

FRAMING SPACES

The next level, known as the plateau, refers to the school’s entrance, lifted on a plinth above the level of approach. The plateau joins the external recreational spaces with the heart of the building and accommodates the foyer, canteen and assembly hall. This central room is surrounded by several workshops, music studios, a library and the administrative section of the building (Archdaily, 2016a: online).

N

The upper level, referred to as “the box”, extends from the plateau and is divided into several zones that accommodate the different year groups, teachers’ offices, break areas and staircases that lead to the main circulation areas on the ground floor. The design minimises external distractions in the classrooms N and other learning environments by framing views of the distant surrounding environment instead of placing windows at eye level. The classrooms are arranged along the edges of the box to maximise sun infiltration and minimise distractions from the Figure 4.5: Spatial investigation of building plan central playground area (Archdaily, 2016a: online).

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4.8 4.9


High ceilings, suspended from the zigzagging roof and from which skylights protrude, represent the historical character of the industrial location while allowing for the infiltration of natural light into the central room. High-quality, hard-wearing materials, such as load-bearing concrete walls, externally finished with corrugated, pre-patinated copper sheets, age beautifully and enhance the quality of the aging process (Archdaily, 2016a: online).

SECTIONAL INVESTIGATION

By investigating the arrangement of transitional spaces through which the user proceeds, the design establishes a unification with the surrounding environment. The building echoes the existence of the surrounding setting and establishes interaction between landscape, building and user. Figure 4.6: Building and recreational space embedded into setting Figure 4.7: Building approach from external surroundings Figure 4.8: Arrival plateau Figure 4.9: Communal area, access to upper level (the box) and arrangement of skylights within central room Figure 4.6-4.9: (Archdaily, 2016a: online)

Figure 4.10: Sectional investigation of building EDUCATION AND RESEARCH AUTISM

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INVESTIGATING THE FACILITIES REQUIRED BY A SCHOOL FOR AUTISM

ROWHILL SPECIAL NEEDS SCHOOL GA ARCHITECTS LOCATION: DARTFORD, LONGFIELD, OUTSKIRTS OF LONDON, UK TENDER DATE: 2009

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Figure 4.11: Aerial view of Dartford (GoogleMaps, 2016: online) 36

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Figure 4.12: Arrangement of facilities within a school for autism (GA Architects, 2009: online)

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Specialising in designing environments for persons with autism since 1996, GA Architects have established a firm basis of what such facilities should accommodate. While avoiding the institutional look, the designers address both spatial requirements and the users’ expected reaction to such assembly. The organisation of a structured and caring environment for autists is necessitated throughout the design in order to maintain a logical understanding of space (GA Architects, 2009: online). On plan, a logical approach towards the layout is taken and allows the users to easily orient themselves within the school. The administrative functions are located in the building core and are surrounded by classrooms aligned along the edge of the building. The entrance to the school is defined half-heartedly on elevation, and the lack of hierarchical elements on section could pose a problem with orientation upon arrival. This might necessitate the use of direction indicators in order to move about the designed space. Chamfered corners and passages set on angle allow the user to be drawn into specific directions from the central areas and facilitates the flow of pupils throughout the school. The facilities provided by the school include: classrooms an administrative section sensory rooms (withdrawal rooms) motor skills room (sports hall) library and computer room assembly hall designated play zones vocational training and therapy facilities: music and drama food technology design technology science art and clay

staff & visitors’ entrance

assembly hall

music & drama

central circulation and social zone

classroom Figure 4.13: Sectional arrangement of facilities within a school for autism (GA Architects, 2009: online)

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Figure 4.14: West elevation of Rowhill special needs school. Ill-defined staff entrance

entrance

Figure 4.15: South elevation, lacking hierarchical definition of spaces

Figure 4.16: Pupils’ entrance on northern end of building, defined with overhanging canopy EDUCATION AND RESEARCH AUTISM

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1.4 ACCOMMODATION LIST

RESEARCH AND INFORMATION CENTRE Educational: Classrooms [104 learners] Reception 12 m² Group 1 (age 3-4 & 5-6) - 24 learners [3x46.5] 139.5 m² Waiting area 12 m² Class 35 Offices [2x16] 32 m² Toilet 3,5 Boardroom 20m² Storeroom 5 Tea kitchen 6 m² Kitchen 3 Library with stores 40 m² Group 2 (age 7-8 & 9-10) - 16 learners [2x46.5] 93 m² Public information area 14 m² Class 35 (extension of library) Toilet 3,5 Toilets [2x4] 8 m² Storeroom 5 Cleaners’ store 4 m² Kitchen 3 Strongroom 8 m² Group 3 (age 11-12 & 13-14) - 16 learners [2x46.5] 93 m² Diagnostic room 16 m² Class 35 Observatory and sensory room 16 m² Store room 5 Parent lounge 16 m² Kitchen 3,5 TOTAL 204m² Group 4 (age 15-16 & 17-21) - 48 learners [6x46.5] 297 m² Class 35 SCHOOL Storeroom 5 Kitchen 3,5 Administration: Library 144 m² Reception and secretarial Office 16 m² Computer room 70 m² Waiting area 12 m² Toilets Principle’s office 20 m² Male 2xWC 3xUrinal 3xwhb 10 m² Deputy principle office [2x16] 32 m² Female 5xWC 3xwhb 15 m² Strongroom 8 m² Nurse’s office 12 m² Workshops incl. storage (welding, woodwork) 60 m² Medicine store 6 m² TOTAL 921.5 m² Sick bay [2x8] 16 m² Print room & store 20 m² Staffroom 50 m² Tea kitchen 8 m² Toilets Male 24 m² Female 28 m² Assembly hall (A4: 150 persons) 200 m² TOTAL 452 m² 40

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THERAPY CENTRE Occupational therapist office [2x12] 24 m² Hydrotherapy centre 120 m² Changing rooms with toilets & showers [2x80] 160 m² Gymnasium/gross motor room 200 m² Speech therapist office [2x12] 24 m² Arts and crafts room incl. storage 60 m² Music room incl. storage 60 m² TOTAL 648 m²

EXTERIOR SPACES Play field Sensory garden Public accessible gardening centre Kitchen waste Parking & deliveries Kitchen drying yard

TOTAL NON-ASSIGNABLE AREA [15%] 385 m² KITCHEN & SUPPORT TOTAL AREA 2950 m² Stores Cutlery 8 m² Bread 8 m² Dry goods 10 m² Vegetables 10 m² Fridge 9 m² Freezer 9 m² Cleaning area and slob hopper 9 m² Trolley bay 7 m² Trolley cleaning area 10 m² Preparation areas: Meat and fish 9 m² Vegetables 9 m² Bread and coffee 9 m² Cooking island 12 m² Wash up 12 m² Garden store house 25 m² Repair workshop & tool store 32 m² TOTAL 213 m²

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2 TOPOLOGY 2.1 MACRO CONTEXT

Figure 4.17: Schools tailored for autism in South Africa 42

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Figure 4.18: Outline of city and location of proposed site

1860

Figure 4.19: Location of proposed site in urban grain (1map, 2016: online)

1910

1940

Figure 4.20: Historical development of Bloemfontein with proposed site location EDUCATION AND RESEARCH AUTISM

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BLOEMFONTEIN CBD Figure 4.21: Bloemfontein CBD grain Proposed site set in urban grain

commercial park/recreational institutional & industrial site 44

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Main urban access routes

with transport nodes in close proximity

Existing schools in Bloemfontein

Natural hillocks in urban landscape

topographic characteristics of Bloemfontein include the dolerite hills, plains, rivers, streams, pans and marshes

public transport nodes

special needs schools

topographical level of hills

site location

neurotypical/mainstream schools

site location

site location

Figure 4.22-24: Macro context quantitative investigation EDUCATION AND RESEARCH AUTISM

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nature

hill

city

site

Figure 4.25: Site location on the edge between nature and city 46

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Figure 4.26: N-S Section through Bloemfontein

Figure 4.27: Plan to section of Waaihoek area in urban Bloemfontein

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TOPOLOGY: 2.2 MICRO CONTEXT QUANTITATIVE ANALYSIS

Figure 4.28: Site approach from Northern end of the terrain

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Figure 4.29: Site section viewed from the south

Figure 4.30: Site section viewed from the west

site

Figure 4.31: Contour lines across terrain indicating the fort hill in urban Bloemfontein 50

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flat landscape

protruding through skin

hill created

Figure 4.32: Protruding through the urban skin

The proposed site is located at the foot of the Fort’s hill on the fringe of the Bloemfontein CBD, capital of the Free State Province. The location provides a twofold setting of nature and city, situated in close proximity to the existing educational node of Motheo College and the Bloemfontein CBD. The proposed site can act as a joining element that reinstates autistic individuals into the urban society while providing the necessary dualistic (vibrant and serene) atmosphere needed for the interactive development of these individuals. The topographical setting displays the displacement of land, and as a result, a hill is created. The site similarly displays the character of autists as being displaced within their environment, but as soon as the individual protrudes through this skin of social indifference, the possibility of an alternative perspective opens up.

Figure 4.33: View of existing activities on site

Figure 4.34: Site approach

Figure 4.35: View from site EDUCATION AND RESEARCH AUTISM

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IMMEDIATE CONTEXT

SITE

Figure 4.36: Immediate context of the proposed site 52

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N Figure 4.37: Sun path of various times of the day casting shadows over the terrain EDUCATION AND RESEARCH AUTISM

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SITE

ZONING

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SITE CADASTRAL INFORMATION

N Figure 4.39: Cadastral information of site and surroundings EDUCATION AND RESEARCH AUTISM

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SPATIAL EXPERIENCE

EXTENDED EXPLORATION LINES OF THE SITE

ERF ACCESS

PATTERNS DRAWN ONTO THE SITE

Figure 4.40-4.47: Quantitative analysis of the site micro context 56

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AXIS LINES AND LINKS

DESIGN CONSIDERATIONS EDUCATION AND RESEARCH AUTISM

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TOPOLOGY: MICRO CONTEXT QUALITATIVE ANALYSIS

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2 TEXTURES ON THE SITE AND IN THE IMMEDIATE CONTEXT 58

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Figure 4.48: Qualitative consideration of textures on site and in surrounding context


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VIEWS OF THE SITE AND SURROUNDING CONTEXT N 60

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Figure 4.49: Views of surroundings from and onto the proposed site EDUCATION AND RESEARCH AUTISM

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UNDERSTANDING OF THE SITE EXPERIENCE THROUGH PERCEPTION

COM

LS MUNA

PACE

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NTO THE SITE O M O R F S VIEW CE LANDSAP N A B R U E TH

PLA

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ALIGNMENT OF TAXIS ACROSS VACANT SPACES Figure 4.50: A personal experienced investigation of the proposed site (Miguel, 2016: online) 62

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ICA

L SI

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3 GROUNDING MORPHOLOGY

Sculpting perspectival différance through the mind-body dialectic 3.1. PERCEPTION 3.2. CARTESIAN DUALITY 3.3. DIALECTICS AND DIALOGUE OF THE URBAN IDENTITY 3.4. SENSORY AND SOCIAL INTEGRATION DEPICTED AS A PAINTING 3.5. CONSIDERING THE EDGES OF ARCHITECTURE 3.6. PAINTING THE AUTISTIC APPREHENSION 3.7. INTENSE WORLD THEORY vs THE EDUCATIONAL ENVIRONMENT 3.8. THE SCHOOL AS A CITY

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Sculpting perspectival différance through the mind-body dialectic Autism is expressed uniquely in every individual on the spectrum. One central likeness is that all autists’ perception of reality is different from that of neurotypical people. Unable to prioritise the stimulating impulses filtering through their senses, autists’ minds are constantly bombarded with an array of neural impulses which the brain struggles to process. This unique perception formulated by autists becomes the fundamental difference between autists and neurotypicals, as each autist considers that only one perception exists: her own. This treatise endeavours on investigating the interactive dialogue of the mind-body phenomena as experienced by an autist, and looks at how alternative social cognitive perspective can be formulated. Perception and its role within architecture as formulated by Pallasmaa in the essay ‘An architecture of the seven senses’ (1994: online), placed against the backdrop of understanding perception through the mind of an autist, sparked an interest into the investigation of our phenomenological experience within architecture. According to Pallasmaa (1994: online), the architect is presented with the challenge of considering the opposing aspects of both perception and logic when designing inhabited spaces. Viewers often distance themselves from these surroundings and consider what they see from a distanced perspective, placing themselves outside of the lived experience. As a result, the formulation of architecture has become the “retinal art of the eye” (Pallasmaa,1994: online). Buildings often become isolated entities that are viewed against the backdrop of a city canvas as if in a “distant realm of vision” (Pallasmaa, 1994: online). Designing buildings for the modernist cityscape risks the development of an urban landscapes which disregards the human scale adamant in intimate detailing. Pallasmaa holds that the urban culture, extending far beyond architectural design, has lost its human relation with reality and has removed the lived experience of being within a space to a mere visual acknowledgment thereof. Consider that both architecture and art have the ability to propose an alternative perspective of the surrounding environment, allowing an echoed reflection of the lived experience to be expressed differently from that which is generally perceived. Painters are able to capture within the edges of a blank canvas not only what is seen from a distance, but also to display the essence of their bodily interaction with the space. They paint their perspective of the visual consideration, and this will undoubtedly differ from another artist’s perspective. The architect is caught between capturing the sensorial essence of space and portraying the logical arrangement of lines depicting the rigidity of the urban culture. We have lost “the physical, sensual, and embodied essence of architecture” (Pallasmaa, 1994: online) and have forgotten that it necessitates the collaboration of the bodily senses to allow any perception of spatial arrangement to be formed within our minds. Here, the mind-body duality necessitates the interaction of person with surroundings in order for the different perceptions to be stringed together into a recognisable image. If our perception allows us to experience our surroundings by evoking sensations within us, how much more relevant is this truth from an autistic point of Figure 4.51: Perception of the viewer placing view? Hypersensitive autists experience sensorial stimulation at a heightened level, much greater than that of himself/herself outside of the lived experience neurotypical people, and therefore have a different perspective of the spatial surroundings. 66

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- PERCEPTION - CARTESIAN DUALITY - DIALECTICS AND DIALOGUE OF THE URBAN IDENTITY - SENSORY AND SOCIAL INTEGRATION DEPICTED AS A PAINTING CONSIDERING THE EDGES OF ARCHITECTURE - PAINTING THE AUTISTIC APPREHENSION - INTENSE WORLD THEORY vs THE EDUCATIONAL ENVIRONMENT - THE SCHOOL AS A CITY -

[

South African artist, Pauline Gutter, portrays the perception of the senses through the layered oil painting of a simple recognisable image - a bull. At first glance the viewer overlooks the complex detail and perceives the monumental works as a simple understandable image. It is only when the viewers come into interactive rage of the painting that they can examine the intricate workmanship of the painting. Interwoven and interlaced, the artist creates a grainy and layered surface, imitating the natural landscape the animal dwells within. A variety of brush strokes applied violently, energetically and in some instances, with elegant precision, captures a deeper meaning of the “substance of the land, the people and the cattle” inhabiting the Free State rural landscape (Gutter, 2015: online).

]

Figure 4.52: Perception of viewing the bull in its entirety vs inspecting the finer detail that displays a different image. (Gutter, 2015: online) EDUCATION AND RESEARCH AUTISM

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- PERCEPTION - CARTESIAN DUALITY - DIALECTICS AND DIALOGUE OF THE URBAN IDENTITY - SENSORY AND SOCIAL INTEGRATION DEPICTED AS A PAINTING CONSIDERING THE EDGES OF ARCHITECTURE - PAINTING THE AUTISTIC APPREHENSION - INTENSE WORLD THEORY vs THE EDUCATIONAL ENVIRONMENT - THE SCHOOL AS A CITY -

Figure 4.53: Physical bodily senses allowing perceptions

of experience to be formulated through the cohesion of mind and body. (Barral, 2011: online)

3.2. CARTESIAN DUALITY The perceptions formulated of our surroundings cannot be separated from the fact that both the mind and body working in conjunction is necessary to create any experience whatsoever. Humans consist of both the physical body, which includes the brain and the non-physical mind or spirit that allows us to reason and formulate judgements. This world view, philosophised by RenÊ Descartes and known as Cartesian dualism, explains the existence of body and mind as separate entities and implies the possibility that the one could exist without the other (Skirry, 2011: online). Descartes states that although these two entities could be regarded separately, our existence is compiled of the two-way interaction between both substances. He continues by saying that we cannot trust sensory experience as it could deceive us, and therefore, knowledge of our environment can only be based on factual reason. Consequently, this interaction between the mind (abstract knowledge) and body (sensory knowledge), and its dialectic interdependence on the surrounding environment is investigated. In contrast to Descartes, I follow on the work of Pallasmaa, which considers that both the physical (abstract factual) and sensory environment have influences on people’s perceived experience of their surroundings. Together these influences have the ability to alter the cognitive understanding of the mind. Although considered separate from the body, the mind causes the body to move and interact with its surroundings. Such stimulation of the physical bodily senses could evoke sensations or perceptions of experiences formulated in the mind. Autistic and neurotypical persons experience this perception of architectural and social environments through the Cartesian duality differently and come into tension with one another on the platform of the urban environment. The tension between these opposites result in social dialectics and initiates interaction between opposites.

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To achieve the aim of initiating a social relationship, both autistic and neurotypical people alike need to make use of their senses in order to communicate, whether that communication is visual, tactile or auditory. These components allow sensory integration with the surrounding environment and society to infiltrate the abstract rational mind and results in experienced perception. Dr Anna Jean Ayres (2005: 5) describes sensory integration as the “organisation of sensations of use” and explains that all our senses provide the brain with information regarding the physical environment and surrounding conditions of the body. The mind is continuously flooded with perceptual information that allows a person to identify herself within a specific place. While the physical body allows these senses to be experienced, the mind forms the perceived understanding of the experienced space. Every bodily experience is organised within the mind, which determines whether and how an individual will react by changing sensations of the surrounding occurrences and environment into perception. Irwin Altman describes this interactive unity as semantic, and therefore, in order to function systematically, the one cannot be without the other (cited in Leslie 2003: online).

AUTISTIC

3.3. DIALECTICS AND DIALOGUE OF THE URBAN IDENTITY Social dialectics is based on the multiple and interwoven contradictions that occur in all social relationships (Leslie, 2003: online). Dialectic theories are concerned with the complex and conflicting interplay between opposite entities within a mutual platform (Leslie, 2003: online). The interplay that results between the autistic and the neurotypical, on the basis of interdependency, allows for the unification and integration of opposites at a central meeting point. Therefore, although the social relationship suggests tension, it is at the same time inherent to the process of relating.

NEUROTYPICAL

- PERCEPTION - CARTESIAN DUALITY - DIALECTICS AND DIALOGUE OF THE URBAN IDENTITY - SENSORY AND SOCIAL INTEGRATION DEPICTED AS A PAINTING CONSIDERING THE EDGES OF ARCHITECTURE - PAINTING THE AUTISTIC APPREHENSION - INTENSE WORLD THEORY vs THE EDUCATIONAL ENVIRONMENT - THE SCHOOL AS A CITY -

In order to participate and function in the surrounding world, it is necessary for any being to use its senses. Each individual’s sensorial understanding differs from that of another and allows unique experiences and interactive possibilities with society to occur. These experiences then allow us to understand and respond to our environment and plays an important role in determining which actions to take in certain situations. The world of individuals with hypersensitive autism is therefore perceived according to the sensorial intensification of experienced space (Wilkes, [n.d.]: 3). Even though achieving an all-inclusive urban culture would be the ideal, the reality is that the urban setting is driven by various types of interaction which neglects the inclusion of people considered socially indifferent. The treatise therefore introduces a platform of dialectical interplay between autistic and neurotypical individuals and initiates dialogue between opposites. The tension between counterparts, brought together at a central point of interest, then has the ability to weave these opposites together. While proposing the opportunity of an interaction-based city landscape, architecture becomes a means to bridge the gap between distinct autistic and neurotypical identities of the cityscape.

Figure 4.54: The dialogue between opposites with different urban perspectives and identities

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- PERCEPTION - CARTESIAN DUALITY - DIALECTICS AND DIALOGUE OF THE URBAN IDENTITY - SENSORY AND SOCIAL INTEGRATION DEPICTED AS A PAINTING CONSIDERING THE EDGES OF ARCHITECTURE - PAINTING THE AUTISTIC APPREHENSION - INTENSE WORLD THEORY vs THE EDUCATIONAL ENVIRONMENT - THE SCHOOL AS A CITY -

3.4. SENSORY AND SOCIAL INTEGRATION DEPICTED AS A PAINTING Each human being, within her world, finds herself at the central point of existence and experiences space admits others differently to the next. Without “myself”, the world that I perceive does not exist. Perspectival differences that have been initiated through interactive dialogue between opposites allows personal experience and knowledge to grow from a person’s unique point of view. Therefore, as in the case of artists, one can establish that autistic individuals’ perspective of the world is “painted” according to their sensorial perception of their surroundings. Merleau-Ponty, in the text ‘Eye and Mind’ (1993: 124), contemplates the way in which a person’s senses work together in forming a perception. Through a process called synaesthesia, the senses that inform perception are edified by which one sensory perception leads to the involuntary acknowledgement in a second sensory experience. Merleau-Ponty’s thinking opposes Descartes’ previous proposition that all knowledge must come from reason. He dwells upon the visual element of our senses and states that because “vision is attached to movement”, we have the ability to orient ourselves within a concrete physical environment and select aspects with which to form a visual connection. Merleau-Ponty (1993: 123) compares our sensorial connection to the environment to that of a painter painting an image of her perceived view. The painter cannot paint what she sees or envisions within the environment without the use of her hand. The mind orders the hand to pick up the brush and slide it across the canvas. It is only when the first touch is made that the visual connection becomes a state of interaction between mind, body and environment. In order to orient ourselves and interact with our environment, we need to become aware of the fact that our bodies are a part of it. Human beings, who comprise both thought and physicality, are unable to dwell within an environment without a body to anchor it to the setting. The body therefore becomes the mediator between the perceiving mind and the physical surrounding world (Merleau-Ponty, 1962: 203). After numerous opinions that children’s intellectual ability is predetermined and uninfluenced by their surroundings after birth, Jean Piaget came to the conclusion that children’s interaction with their surrounding environment is crucial to the development of their social relationships and cognitive thinking ability (Jean Ayres, 2005: 140). Although children develop systematically along a predetermined path, it is only through a responsive interaction that such sequenced development can take place. In the phenomenology of embodiment, Husserl (Behnke, 2016: online) describes that a place containing unique and complex sets of experiences can only be felt first-hand by the embodied individual. As experiencers, we are exposed to a system of movement possibilities within an environment that allows us to experience every moment of our perceptual lives differently from the next person. We identify our experiential structure of embodiment, however, not only in the ways in which the natural sciences approach the body, but also in how we have taken over the assumptions of the natural sciences into our understanding of a tangible feeling. The mind acts as a translator of our experiences, while movement becomes the language of the body reacting to those experiences. In order to mend the gap which appears between the opposites on the basis of dialectic space, it is necessary to understand the nature of both sensorial thought driven by the recall of experiences and memories (Brubaker, 2003: 27) and physical reasoning. Autistic persons tend to formulate repetitive behaviours as a result of a formalistic reasoning tactic, similar to that of a scientist. Instead of acknowledging and responding to their sensorial perceptions of their surroundings, as Descartes sees the reasoning mind, autists tend to have forceful reactions of spinning or rocking to subdue the influence of sensory stimulation and gain control over their overstimulated perceptions.

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[

In the Rorschach test (frequently used in the faculty of psychology), each subject perceives the displayed image differently and makes individual assumptions of the art in order to understand the image for “myself“, over that which the artist intended. This image comes about due to the set of experiences and memories stored within each individual’s mind. The perceiving mind allows the formulation of unique experiences for each different viewer and allows various images to emerge from the “inkblot“.

]

Figure 4.55: Original Rorschach Test - Blot 6 (https://c2.staticflickr.com/8/7459/16329409628_244e 2a50c7_b.jpg) EDUCATION AND RESEARCH AUTISM

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Merleau-Ponty (1993: 122) observes that scientists perceive objects from a perspective that is detached from the world. He goes on to explain that they have forgotten that their observations have been grounded in their bodily experiences in the world surrounding them. Painters, meanwhile, acknowledge their direct influence from and contact with the world they observe because they understand that they cannot be separated from their immediate immersion in the world (Shores, 2010: online). Painters are entitled to look at everything surrounding them, but they are not obliged to portray everything that they see and can focus only on a portion of their environment. In contrast, when individuals are embodied within an environment, they have no alternative but to consider the totality of the space surrounding them (Merleau-Ponty, 1962: 204). The individuals acknowledge their embodiment within an environment based on memories combined with logical and scientific thinking. The body and mind act as one in order for the occupant to understand the environment she is experiencing. Pallasmaa (1996: 27) explains that a body is the lived centre of a person’s understanding within the world being experienced. He posits that the body’s movement capabilities and its familiarity of sensations are the focal instruments in the account of how we meet other embodied elements in the common environment of a logical (scientific) and explorable (sensorial) world. The analysis and design of architecture within a dialectical field of mind-body and autistic-neurotypical interaction are influenced by the understanding of this phenomenological view of the embodied perception of an individual’s environment. Merleau-Ponty (1993: 123) refers to embodiment in art, as the quality, light, colour and depth that are revealed in both painting and architecture. He states that these elements are only there to stir an echo within a neurotypical person’s body and because such a body welcomes them in, while autistic persons have difficulty allowing such stimuli to infiltrate their perceptual existence. Pallasmaa (2011: 119) continues from this idea and explains that just like paintings and poetic images, architectural images also obtain their mental impact by awakening emotions and embodied channels in the viewer, before the building is understood by the intellect. Embodiment has two sides: our underlying images are waiting to be stirred, while there are other images already embodied in the things we recognise around us. As an example, Pallasmaa (2011: 123) explains that there are many original images of architecture, including floor, roof, wall, door, window, hearth, stair, bed, table and bath. These elements are seen as images rather than things because instead of merely just being, they “permit and invite” users to gain access through, beneath and onto them. Such images have an impact on our behaviour and feelings that extends far beyond their apparent primary function. Images are awakened in our own experiences and lie embodied within the environment we perceive (Grice, 2011: online).

Figure 4.56: Humans as the lived centre of their understanding of the world 72

Within the phenomenological tradition which architects are driven by the notion that a building is encountered and not only viewed, the enclosed space is “approached, confronted, entered” and related to by a person’s body while it is used as a context and condition for things and activities (Pallasmaa, 2011: 124). When designing architecture for autists, the enveloping of a space is dependent dialectically on the emobdied perception of the environment. The images that the architectural environment displays and the emotions they stir within the autistic occupants through view, sound, touch and smell ought to prepare such persons to exist independently in an ongoing simulative urban setting.

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- PERCEPTION - CARTESIAN DUALITY - DIALECTICS AND DIALOGUE OF THE URBAN IDENTITY - SENSORY AND SOCIAL INTEGRATION - DEPICTED AS A PAINTING CONSIDERING THE EDGES OF ARCHITECTURE - PAINTING THE AUTISTIC APPREHENSION - INTENSE WORLD THEORY vs THE EDUCATIONAL ENVIRONMENT - THE SCHOOL AS A CITY -

3.5. CONSIDERING THE EDGES OF ARCHITECTURE The Heideggerian concept of threshold asserts that it is at the beginning of a dwelling where an individual moves across a boundary from one space into another space. Individuals move through bridges, buildings, roads and open spaces. All these dwellings make us experience the juxtaposition of elements. What might be seen as a boundary, and the end of one element, can also be understood as the start of another. Where the earth ends on the horizon, the sky begins. The one is always seen in relation to the other. Casey (2008: 1) asserts that a threshold separates spheres from one another. He explains that it is an architectural element or special formation in which movements and activities are performed. Whilst painting a watercolour in Stonington, Maine, Casey (2008: 1) notes the parallels between the notions of threshold and edges and that of a canvassed painting, as he tried to capture the spirit of a small fishing village. All the while, he was aware that he was working within the borders of the canvas and plotting the scenes in between these edges. This thought led him to question the act of what it means to be between edges, or rather “in-between” them. He realises that these edges serve more to frame, shelter and support the captured scene than to confine the artist into certain limits. He opens the edges of the canvas up to possibilities for the image rather than closing it off (Casey, 2008: 1). These edges set in place do not only frame us within the edges of the canvas, but also within those of a mental space. For Porter (2004: 193), a threshold is an architectural component, a space of transition which marks the link between inside and outside, having profound social and emotional significance on users within a space. Heidegger describes the meaning of being and time (1926[1971]: 356), and from this we have come to understand the way that individuals experience a space: not by “being” alone, but rather by “being there” at a specific time in a specific place. A person experiences a space according to certain events, in a certain time frame and within a specific environment. In his lecture entitled ‘Border vs. Boundary’, Casey (2009: online) explicates that when being in the midst of any occurring activity, we are “in-between” edges and playing into a combination of human experiences. Casey understands edges as a place where matter runs out or where a landscape comes to an end and that these edges form borders to distinguish one space from another (Casey, 2009: online). Here I am again reminded of Heidegger’s understanding of boundaries and thresholds. He explains that there will always be a continuation of space, though there might be a subconscious barrier such as a boundary to separate the one from the other (Heidegger 1926[1971]). But rather than having these edges hinder us from exploring the world beyond the boundary, we should make use of these thresholds as the binding element between two spaces. As an example, a veranda surrounding the periphery of a house might be regarded as the edge of the building. This threshold is what separates the inside from the outside, but at the same time it is what joins the two. Figure 4.57: Painter working within the borders of the canvas to frame and support the captured scene. (Mehra, 2011: online) Figure 4.58: Thresholds as the binding element between two spaces

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- PERCEPTION - CARTESIAN DUALITY - DIALECTICS AND DIALOGUE OF THE URBAN IDENTITY - SENSORY AND SOCIAL INTEGRATION - DEPICTED AS A PAINTING CONSIDERING THE EDGES OF ARCHITECTURE - PAINTING THE AUTISTIC APPREHENSION - INTENSE WORLD THEORY vs THE EDUCATIONAL ENVIRONMENT - THE SCHOOL AS A CITY -

Before a structure is built, the landscape on which the building is to be constructed is acknowledged. Where does the structure begin and where does it end? Are there boundaries which will enclose the structure and from where will the landscape continue? Flowing from the terrain, the building is an extension of its landscape. The distinction between the interior and exterior is blurred by adding porous boundaries, binding the one to the other. 3.6. PAINTING THE AUTISTIC APPREHENSION In Autism in a Decentered World (2016), Wexler investigates the neurodiversity of autism through art. She investigates the method with which Dan Miller, an autist, although having difficulty communicating verbally, has the ability of “functioning” superiorly within the context of art. Miller does not communicate verbally, but rather “superimposes words, letters or numbers” over one another and portrays his experience of language in this manner. A critic described his work as “layered elements that appear to be in constant flux, emerging into view while being scratched out of existence. Simultaneously poetic and artistic, expressive and conceptual, his work renders distinctions between categories meaningless” (Wexler, 2016: xiii). Miller graphically portrays his experience of communication in porous cohesion with his experience of sensorial stimulation of his surroundings. For Merleau-Ponty, a painter acknowledges her environment and chooses what part of the surrounding essence she wants to capture. In contrast, autists have difficulty discerning merely a part of their experience as they are overwhelmed by the surrounding sensorial stimulus. Autistic individuals have difficulty distinguishing on which part of their surroundings they would like to focus. Therefore, when designing a space that facilitates the daily activities of an autist, it is important to minimise sensorial stimuli in spaces necessitating focus, while enhancing stimulation gradually towards the city landscape. A sequence of spaces can be designed to ease the flow of low to high stimulating areas within the design. By doing so, autistic children are able to adapt systematically and can be taught how to manage the perceived experiences of stimulation along different phases. The design sculpts perspectival différance through the mind-body dialectic and allows for the interaction with and celebration of differences between opposites.

Figure 4.59: Art by an autist portraying his sense of communication: Dan Miller (Foster, 2014: online)

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Figure 4.60: Sequence of spaces easing the flow from low to high stimulus areas 74

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- PERCEPTION - CARTESIAN DUALITY - DIALECTICS AND DIALOGUE OF THE URBAN IDENTITY - SENSORY AND SOCIAL INTEGRATION - DEPICTED AS A PAINTING CONSIDERING THE EDGES OF ARCHITECTURE - PAINTING THE AUTISTIC APPREHENSION - INTENSE WORLD THEORY vs THE EDUCATIONAL ENVIRONMENT - THE SCHOOL AS A CITY -

3.7. INTENSE WORLD THEORY vs THE EDUCATIONAL ENVIRONMENT Three decades ago, Baron-Cohen introduced the notion that autists do not have “theory of mind”, which suggests that a child with autism is unable to understand that other people have their own emotions, ideas, plans and perspectives of their environment, and that these children’s “lack of empathy” and social indifference were attributed to this (Plank, 2012: online). Two decades later, Kamila and Henry Markram contradicted this theory with the “intense world theory”, which states that autists experience their world through a “supercharged brain” that intensifies all sensations and therefore develops strategies to avoid or subdue the intense stimulation of their surroundings (Plank, 2012: online). Due to an accelerated brain development process causing an autistic child’s mind to be genetically too sensitive too early, environmental exposure accelerates the brain development further. It is not a case of being unaware or unsympathetic towards others, but rather a coping mechanism that allows autists to retreat into a controllable space in order to protect themselves. The intense world theory proposes that an autistic person’s reaction and processing of information is faster, more intense and more detailed than that of a neurotypical person, whereby the autist finds composure in repetitive behaviour and predictable spaces (Plank, 2012: online). A social dialectical space is therefore regarded between the two, in order to understand the perceived surrounding space from two different world understandings. As mainstream education policies and their application have changed dramatically over recent decades, so have architectural design norms for the educational environment of autists. Children still learn in the same way as decades ago, and while the specific need for certain workspaces remained the same, the ways in which they interact with one another and how to arrange them have not. Very often the designer has to unravel the puzzle of how, through the design of the internal space, to assist autists to concentrate on a specific topic while still developing their inquisitiveness by exposing them to their wider external environment. Two other pieces of the puzzle are how to combine a safe and secure educational environment while still teaching the learners about the inevitable dangers they would need to avoid or face and overcome at some stage in their lives outside the school boundaries (Herzberger, 2008: online). Architects must refrain from letting themselves be drawn into a debate on how education should be approached and should rather focus on creating spaces in which education can take place (Herzberger, 2008: online) — spaces that would hopefully be flexible enough in order to adapt to the changes in autism education itself. The building is the body and education the mind that draws it in the way it wants the building to function and how it needs to be supported dualistically.

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- PERCEPTION - CARTESIAN DUALITY - DIALECTICS AND DIALOGUE OF THE URBAN IDENTITY - SENSORY AND SOCIAL INTEGRATION - DEPICTED AS A PAINTING CONSIDERING THE EDGES OF ARCHITECTURE - PAINTING THE AUTISTIC APPREHENSION - INTENSE WORLD THEORY vs THE EDUCATIONAL ENVIRONMENT - THE SCHOOL AS A CITY -

3.8. THE SCHOOL AS A CITY A school could easily simulate a city with its combination of streets and squares, and private (individual) and public (shared) spaces, which, within the city, demarcate different uses. The building mimics the city vertically through different height volumes and light filtering into the building at different levels. Higher volumes suggest public (shared) spaces and lower volumes private (individual) spaces. On a horizontal level, the city is mimicked by making public (shared) spaces more easily accessible than the private (individual) spaces. Just as in the city, the different educational functions mimic different designations of the city (Herzberger, 2008: online). One can easily imagine the theme of an avenue of trees aligned along the street, each tree creating a space of community assembly, resembling the traditional African character of education beneath a tree. It is in the public (shared) spaces where contact is made with different people doing different things and where exposure to the wider outside world takes place. In the private (individual) spaces, one retreats out of the community into a safer, secluded space. Buildings, like people, need clear boundaries in which they can operate successfully. If the boundaries in buildings disappear completely, all the various aspects flow into one another and nothing is left to be discovered, explored or shared. People need space into which to venture. They should be able to share with others while in those public spaces and then return to a safe place to evaluate what was learned, then venture out again (Herzberger, 2008: online). Like the porousness displayed in the autist Dan Miller’s art, flowing from the innermost point of the canvas, the building must have clearly defined boundaries, without leading to total seclusion between school and city. Autists will never become neurotypicals and neither will neurotypicals become autists, but by allowing the respect of differences to be celebrated, the edge between opposites becomes porous and invites interaction. Investigating an arrangement of several school assemblies poses the opportunity of discerning the character of each and to establish a platform from where informed morphological decisions, portraying the essence of integration between school and city might be made. In the process of establishing porous boundaries and initiating dialogue between autistic and neurotypical people, interaction is allowed by sculpting the building as a bridge between opposites while respecting the perspectival differences and the mind-body dialectic. When looking at the majority of today’s typical school layouts, it is evident that a central courtyard is created through the arrangement of a surrounded peripheral building. Such a layout obstructs all contact with the exterior world so as to keep the children to the one side and what is public to the other. In doing so, all interaction between the two is prevented.

Figure 4.61: These images portray an array of building footprints imitating the character of a canvas opening up its edges and allowing alternative arrangements to be formed. These images depict different school morphologies and will assist in the formulation of an informed morphological design decision of the proposed scheme. 76

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Harrow School, situated in London and founded in1572, displays the historical conception of education as authority and as such, is placed on top of a hill to emphasise its power. Upon arrival, one focuses one’s head upwards, and this enlarges the perspective of the approach. In contrast, from above, one perceives the surrounding setting as small and frail and experiences an “authoritical” perception of the surroundings.

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A more contemporary approach to the school layout is the Ridge Preparatory School in Johannesburg. Situated within a similar topology as the scheme proposed in the present dissertation, the Ridge Preparatory School is located between a natural hillock and the city. The “courtyard” is separated from any public interaction by the linear arrangement of the classrooms along the hill’s edge. Total seclusion is perceived as a result of the solid wall creating separation, and although safety is a high priority, disintegration from the exterior society secludes the users entirely from their surrounding environment. While physical barriers are created between the school and its surroundings, an illusion of interconnectivity is achieved through permeable fences. The successful consideration of proposing a visual connection between user and surroundings allows public and semi-private spaces to merge and invites accessibility.

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porous boundary between walkway and school edge allowing visual connection with surroundings

solid edge between school and surroundings threshold separating school and external world

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Figure 4.62: Solid edges and porous boundaries of school (Archdaily, 2016b: online) EDUCATION AND RESEARCH AUTISM

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Developing beyond the linear Ridge Preparatory, Hazelwood School for the Multiple Sensory Impaired, located in Glasgow, Scotland, focuses on allowing interaction between the user and the building. The architecture allows for playful and tactile interaction between the two and invokes a fresh perspective of space as much more than a mere envelope facilitating functions as it wiggles itself into the setting. The building does not make use of solid fencing but rather creates its boundaries by an alignment of porous trees.

natural setting in near proximity an avenue of trees creating a porous boundary between school and busy street private playground enveloped by the building at one end and by trees at the other

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Figure 4.63: Aerial view of building submerged into landscape (Petras, 2011: online) EDUCATION AND RESEARCH AUTISM

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Figure 4.64: Arrangement considerations: from a linear alignment to the building wiggling itself into the setting (Design share, 2015: online)

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Figure 4.65: Section of building in landscape (Design share, 2015: online) 82

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private playground enveloped by the building at one end and by trees at the other classrooms

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Figure 4.66: Arrangement of plan allowing interaction between user and public through porous boundaries (Design share, 2015: online)

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By considering the numerous aspects discussed throughout the literature review and the consecutive precedent studies, a platform to initiate the morphological design considerations of the proposed scheme has been established. By distinguishing between the various elements of the design, the scheme encompasses the ability of proposing an alternative perspective from user to city. Lifted above the city-space and embedded in the edge of the proposed site’s hill, the scheme raises the possibility of activating an altered perception of the city-authority and allows autists accommodated by the scheme to interact with the urban surrounding in a way similar to that in which the building interacts with its setting. EDUCATION AND RESEARCH AUTISM

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4 TECTONICS 4.1 STRUCTURAL TOUCHSTONE - TENSION - ADAPTABILITY - CHANGEABILITY - DIALOGISM - PRESSURE - FORCE - STRETCH - MOVEMENT Figure 4.67: Expansion and contraction of secondary structural timber system allowing adaptability of structure

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The structural touchstone represents the essence of interaction and integration by means of adaptability and changeability of opposites that celebrate their differences on a mutual platform. The scheme’s theoretical grounding is founded on the changeability of perception, and as a result, the touchstone portrays the physical adaptability of the building to suit different user needs. movement

Sy ste m ar m se xp an d an d co nt

Adaptable screens, fixed to a secondary timber frame, allow the building’s morphological appearance to change according to the users’ requirements and are supported by the main structural steel system. This adaptability, portrayed by the physical structure, represents the underlying character of autists and neurotypicals adapting their perceptional understanding of one another and initiating interaction between opposites.

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Figure 4.68: Structural essence portrayed in a physical demostration model of adaptable structure EDUCATION AND RESEARCH AUTISM

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4.2 Technical PRECEDENT STUDY Environment and microclimate Surrounding environment Built context Microclimate User behaviour, socio-economic profile of user group & building requirements Function of building and requirements Development of brief Site planning and landscape detailing Site planning Access Services Storm-water Utility and Space enhancement Utilisation of space and spatial enhancement Horizontal and vertical circulation Horizontal circulation Vertical circulation

EARLY CHILDHOOD CENTRE KRAAIJVANGER ARCHITECTS LOCATION: AMERICAN SCHOOL OF THE HAGUE CAMPUS, WASSENAAR, THE NETHERLANDS COMPLETED: 2013 86

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Form and Function Design detailing: Accessibility Barrier-free architecture Building services Fire alarm systems and escape routes Structural systems Tectonic structure: Composite timber structure


Located in the Netherlands, the early childhood centre in The Hague allows a school-as-farmyard experience to occur within the rural setting of Wassenaar. The school intends to educate young people about sustainable living and aims to do this within a sustainable environment. The early childhood centre building is structurally reliant on wood. Although the use of wood is not as practical in South Africa as it is in Europe, the investigation will consider the building morphology relating to its typology, as well as how such a composite structure could be implemented in the South African context, climate and landscape.

Figure 4.69 (opposite page): Entrance perspective of the Early Childhood Centre (Kraaijvanger, 2013: online) Figure 4.70: Aerial view of Wassenaar in the Hague (GoogleMaps, 2016: online) EDUCATION AND RESEARCH AUTISM

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Environment and micro-climate SURROUNDING ENVIRONMENT The early childhood centre in Wassenaar (the Netherlands) is an extension of the American School of The Hague and includes several classrooms, a nursery, an art centre and a gym (Kraaijvanger, 2013: online). The centre fits snugly into the surrounding buildings’ scale and connects to an existing 16th-century farmhouse, which acts as the main administration wing of the centre. Both existing and new structures relate to the environment and farm landscape and allow an overall integration between building and context to take place. Existing buildings on the complex are carefully and compactly arranged, displaying the richness of Dutch history. The arrangement of old and new forms an amalgamated, historically significant and contemporary development unit revealing numerous decades of development. BUILT CONTEXT The building is located within the existing setting of the American School of The Hague complex and obtains its morphology by attaching itself to the built landscape while complementing and unifying what had previously been a fragmented unit on the campus. The building is surrounded by existing structures and is connected to the 16th-century farmhouse by means of a glass box in order to make visible the separation of old from new, although the building performs one function (Goverde, 2015: online). This typical design solution aspires to create a space of unified architectural qualities while responding sensitively to the existing architecture by maintaining a clear distinction between old and new.

Figure 4.71: Site plan in American School of The Hague campus (ECC, 2013: online)

MICRO CLIMATE A mere five-minute walk from the American School of The Hague main campus, the early childhood centre is situated in Wassenaar, the western Netherlands, and is located on the western edge of The Hague, bordering the North Sea. Mild summer days with frequent afternoon rains are experienced (max 21.5°C; min 13.3°C), while cold, wet winters, often accompanied by snow, last from November to April (max 5.9°C; min 1°C).

Figure 4.72: Historical surrounding buildings: 16th-century farmhouse. (Goverde, 2015: online) 88

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User behaviour, socio-economic profile of user group and building requirements Function of building and requirements The centre provides education and training (gymnasium) facilities to accommodate 230 individuals aged between zero and six years and includes several playgrounds to suit the needs of different age groups. The building is integrated into the existing context in order to display the objective of the school, which is to promote young children to “playfully learn why sustainability matters” (Goverde, 2015: online). Therefore, the use of wood is key. The existing farmhouse contains the school administration, a lunch room with adjacent kitchen, a nursery to accommodate children of ages zero to three and an art room. Development of brief With the use of pitched roofs and rustic materials, the architect was able to capture the essence of the site’s original purpose as a farm. The building was required to connect to the historical structures in order to maintain the character of the farm. The architects were not allowed to exceed the scale of the existing structures and therefore needed to sink the first level below ground (Goverde, 2015: online).

Figure 4.73-4.74: Pitched roof with rustic materials to imitate the farm-like character (Kraaijvanger, 2013: online)

Not only does the early childhood centre provide early academic education to the children, but it also provides the opportunity of exposing such young individuals to qualities of sustainable living, a healthy lifestyle through exercise and cultural enrichment by means of art and library facilities. The design is focused on capturing these elements while creating interaction between private and surrounding public spaces. Due to the congestion that was likely to occur within the passage spaces, the architects were challenged to elegantly design the eastwest corridor that runs through the northern wing of the building to remain wide enough for the users to circulate comfortably. The architects provided a play/circulation space below ground level, towards the northern end of the wing, that allows comfortable exterior circulation and enables the classrooms to extend into the outdoor play area. Bridges and staircases allow the building scale and spatial experience to flow elegantly throughout the mainstream area of the structure.

Figure 4.75: Development of spatial arrangement EDUCATION AND RESEARCH AUTISM

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Site planning and landscape detailing Site planning Due to the central focus of maintaining the farm-like character of the surrounding landscape and connecting to the historical building, the exterior spaces have been designed in such a manner as to allow easy flow of access from the exterior spaces into the building interior (Goverde, 2015: online). Careful attention is given to the design of these exterior landscaped spaces in the arrival route, which allows for public access, while the northern end of the site, which has been sunk beneath ground level, permits activity to extend outwards. Although a play on levels makes for an interesting sectional consideration, not all the levels are freely accessible, therefore creating an obstructed landscape. The building, which consists of three parallel rectangular blocks, stretches itself over the entire site in order to evoke the spatial experience of continuous interaction between interior and exterior spaces. Access The site, stretching from north to south, is accessed on the south-eastern corner of the terrain and provides sufficient parking for users of the centre. Vehicles are able to access the immediate setting by means of a central drop-off turning circle. Beyond the central drop-off, the users circulate through the main entrance and spread into the different wings of the centre. The transparent glass box, which creates the transition between old and new structures, allows views into the building, providing an interconnection between public and semi-private spaces. Services The designed landscape is based on the school’s objective, which entails creating an environment where children can learn why sustainability matters. Hedges, gentle slopes and wooden fences subtly divide different sections of the setting and allow general greenery and educational components such as vegetable gardens to sprawl throughout the landscape that is set out. Focused on sustainability, the architects included the use of LED-emitting diodes, solar energy, wastewater treatment and reuse systems, and natural materials, such as wood, for construction (Goverde, 2015: online). Storm-water The central building is designed as two separate volumes that interlock and is covered with green roofs in order to portray the essence of the surrounding agricultural landscape (Mazzocchi, 2013: online). These sod roofs allow for the infiltration of rain, while the excess water runoff is treated and reused wherever possible. The landscape is perforated with permeable pavement and allows storm water to be captured and reused instead of running off into the surrounding natural streams.

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Figure 4.76: Secondary access over exterior play area (Goverde, 2015: online)

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Figure 4.78: Main entance connected to historical building (Goverde, 2015: online) EDUCATION AND RESEARCH AUTISM

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Utility and Space enhancement

Utilisation of space and spatial enhancement Focusing on the use of modern sustainability methods, the entire scheme promotes the enhanced quality of living in spaces that consider the surrounding environment (Griffiths, 2013: online). Regardless of the different functions, the architects considered the character of natural light infiltration, the acoustic qualities of materials and the connection to the exterior spaces throughout the building. Timber frames supporting Accoya cladding allows a sound-absorbing enclosure and creates classrooms that adapt to the changing natural landscape (Mazzocchi, 2013: online). As the surrounding landscape is weathered, so too does the building’s timber skin subtly weather and adapt to the changing landscape. The main classroom block consists of two floors. The lower floor extends horizontally into an external play area, while the first floor extends vertically in order to allow sufficient natural light infiltration. The double volume space of the upper mezzanine floor allows an exaggerated spatial experience although it is actually an attic space. Detached from the main structure and located towards he northern end of the site, the double volume gymnasium allows for indirect natural light infiltration by means of skylights that protrude through the skin of the enclosure. The gymnasium’s interior flexibility can be optimised and partitioned off to adapt to the varying number of users occupying the facility. Figure 4.79; 4.80: Utilisation of attic space and natural light infiltration (ECC, 2013: online)

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Figure 4.81: Skylights protruding through skin enclosure


Horizontal and Vertical circulation As a result of the complexity of a building accommodating children from age three to six in the classroom section (Goverde, 2015: online), special consideration ought to be given to circulation, both vertically and horizontally, in order for children to position themselves without confusion. Horizontal circulation Centrally located and in line with the drop-off zone, the main entrance and reception area, situated within the new extension, creates the central point of orientation along the horizontal circulation node across the building interior. Two main corridors intersect at the centre of the classroom box. The north-south corridor extends outwards, bridges the kindergarten play area and reaches onto the path which continues to the gymnasium. In this manner, all users within the centre are easily oriented and spatial confusion of youngsters is avoided. Vertical circulation Located at the intersection between the two horizontal circulation axes, a staircase and lift shaft protrude through all three floors of the building. Although no ramps have been included in the building interior to accommodate persons with physical disabilities, the architects incorporated a lift that is powered by solar energy. Four exterior fire escape staircases were set onto the ends of the two main rectangular blocks in order to allow rapid evacuation of the building when needed.

Figure 4.82: Horizontal circulation axes

Figure 4.83: Vertical circulation nodes EDUCATION AND RESEARCH AUTISM

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Form and Function The parallel linear morphology of the building was guided by the idea of a farm, with several buildings imitating barns. The building is merged into the surrounding setting of what used to be a farm and educates the children about sustainable living (Griffiths, 2013: online). Not only do the children perceive the agricultural essence of the landscape, but they are also taught how to go about planting and harvesting the surrounding vegetable gardens. Necessary functions, the availability of space and the character of the environment guided the form of the structure (Goverde, 2015: online). The existing structure includes an administration section, a nursery, a lunch room and a kitchen. Stretching from the existing 16th-century barn, the main entrance and the central hall (multipurpose room) form the heart of the building. The northern box includes twelve classrooms and an indoor play area, art room and library.

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Figure 4.85: Parallel linear morphology of barn-like buildings 94

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Design detailing: Accessibility Barrier-free architecture Although the centre focuses on able-bodied children, it goes without saying that such a learning centre ought to incorporate design strategies which provide accessibility for wheelchair-bound persons. Detailing, such as edged thresholds, that could cause obstacles and barriers were avoided and all ground-floor spaces can be freely accessed. The central lift allows access onto other levels. All corridors were designed to be two meters wide and allow for sufficient space for wheelchair users to circulate throughout the building.

Figure 4.87: Internal passages (Schmidt, 2013: 77)

Building services Fire alarm systems The building relies on an automatic sprinkler system as well as several fire hose reels which are connected to water storage tanks. Although the structural integrity of the building (timber) can easily be compromised by fire, the architects have included several escape points, including external staircases and double doors for rapid evacuation. Wool insulation within the framed structure and the sedum roof maintains a sufficient thermal comfort within the summer, while the building makes use of a central heating system powered by solar panels to heat it during winter. The building uses water-reuse methods by capturing rainwater, after which it is treated and stored within the building (Griffiths, 2013: online). Figure 4.88: Fire escape routes

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Structural systems Tectonic structure: Composite timber structure The building is supported by a raft foundation and has a structure of timber portal frames. The frame is cladded with Accoya wood and closed off with aluminium-framed glazed panels on each end. The historical building’s structure remained as is (load-bearing masonry), while the new structure subtly touches onto the existing one. A clear distinction between old and new is seen as a bridge connects from the one to the other in the central atrium. A change of material, brick-to-steel-to-timber, is seen as the structure changes from old to new. The school wanted a building that is not only durable, but that should also create the experience of durability (Griffiths, 2013: online). Pine veneer cladding is set onto the internal face of the frame in order to experience the character of the surroundings as well as the ideals of sustainability. The central section is covered with sedum roofs and allows for thermal storage within the building. Column-and-beam structures support several levels while partitioning is used to divide these large shells into smaller spaces. A combination of timber and glazed façades provide visual interaction between the interior private spaces and exterior surroundings of the building. The northern section’s first-floor structure is supported by a steel staircase shaft that is fixed to the timber superstructure, forming a strengthening core for the first floor. The main timber frame creates the roof structure by means of a portal frame. The roof structure is covered with timber slats and allows for easy rainwater drainage at intervals into several downpipes (Griffiths, 2013: online). The architects made use of a number of detailing elements, some of which contribute to the aesthetics of the building (i.e. methods of fastening and finishing), while also creating a timber louvre screen on the east-facing windows of the first floor. In a South African context however, the structural assembly of timber would be substituted with a composite steel structure, similar to the detail shown in figure 4.89. The centre’s successful design outcome lies in the consideration of the surrounding context and the use of sustainable design as the core of the entire scheme. With the use of solar power, water treatment and reuse systems and materials that have good insulating qualities, the building has been designed in such a manner that it can sustain itself for years to come. The building considers the topography and essence of the surrounding landscape and is therefore a suitable example of construction to consider when designing a centre for research and education for Autism in the South African setting. 96

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Figure 4.90: Timber portal frame assembly

Opposite page Figure 4.90: Tmber floor assembly Figure 4.91: Cladding and insulating systems Figure 4.92: Section of building Figure 4.93: Structural steel assembly in South African context


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chapter 5: design methodology

PART 3

5.1. Concepts initiating design morphology 5.2. Building as a bridge between opposites 5.3. An alternative design consideration 5.4. Introducing cohesive communal spaces: a courtyard 5.5. Building as a town square 5.6. Building as a canvas opening up its boundaries 5.7. Towards a final design methodology

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102 104 116 118 120 122 132

chapter 6: technical resolution 6.1. Setting 152 6.2. Utility and space enhancement 154 6.3. User behaviour and requirements 155 6.4. Form and function 161 6.5. Circulation 164 6.6. Structural detailing 165 6.7. Building services 168 6.8. Barrier-free environment 169 6.9. Sustainability goals 169 6.10. Reaching the sustainability goals with specialised structural building systems 170 6.11. Parking requirements 173

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DESIGN AND TECHNICAL SYNTHESES

The design development of the dissertation is presented in a linear process and reflects on the morphological grounding discussed in Part two. In conjunction with the research process and precedent analyses, a continuous but changing process occurs throughout the development of the morphological design solution. The site analyses, conceptual ideas and the investigation of similar building types discussed in Part two is used as the platform from where the design morphology is initiated. Here, certain guidelines and parameters for the proposal were discovered, while the research allowed for an unconventional approach towards a typical building typology. Alongside the typological considerations, both morphological and structural design decisions are made, displaying the interdependency of the two. Originating from the initial conceptual ideas, the design process takes form through building physical models on the proposed site and is integral throughout the entire design process. Physical models allow an understanding of the proposal’s proportions and compositional organisation responding to the requirements of a school typology on the proposed site. Although hindered by indecision along the process, a re-evaluation of the building organisation is necessitated and allows different components developed along different stages to be combined. Several models are built, and although having to consider an alternative approach from the initial design consideration, these models develop consecutively into a realisable building solution, suitable to that of the specified typology. In its entirety, Part three is the culmination of morphological design and technical decisions resulting from the continuous configuration of design considerations into a final design solution.

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Design methodology

1 Concepts initiating design morphology 2 Building as a bridge between opposites 3 An alternative design consideration 4 Introducing cohesive communal spaces: a courtyard 5 Building as a town square 6 Building as a canvas opening up its boundaries 7 Towards a final design synthesis

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1 CONCEPTS INITIATING DESIGN MORPHOLOGY The architect, by his nature, is inclined to investigate new ideas on how to execute traditional concepts. This means considering non-conventional forms, shapes and their combination, for all, but in this case, an educational facility with its typical passageways and classrooms on one or both sides of it. The longstanding concept of educational design delivers the typical “circulation” and “functional” spaces result, and a new idea would be, through different form and shape, to apply the circulation spaces as more functional spaces. Spaces exclusively used for walking and waiting, now becomes extra spaces for learning and interacting. This not only reduces the strain on over cramped classrooms but also changes normally dirty, unfriendly spaces into friendly clean spaces where people meet for group sessions, social interaction as well as safe nooks for individual research, homework and study (Herzberger, 2008: online). Resulting from the combination of concepts explored in Part two, a non-conventional building morphology, wrapping around the northern and eastern edges of the hill, creates a linear layout that stretches from the natural setting toward the juxtaposed urban setting. The building imitates a bridge that unifies separate entities on a common platform and initiates interaction between opposites. Mimicking a bridge-like morphology places emphasis on the dialogue between the autists occupying the facility and the neurotypical surrounding environment. Not only does the bridge-like structure allow interconnectivity between the centre and the urban landscape, but also presents an alternative perspective view of the urban setting from above.

concept

1

Figure 5.1: Model lines stretching between hill and city, allowing infiltration and interaction between opposites Figure 5.2: Lines bridging over site displaying tension between building and landscape, autist and neurotypical, urban and natural Figure 5.3 & 5.4: Layout and model displaying arrangement of the simplistic inner understanding of a complex surrounding environment [Basic boxes suspended from complex adaptable & changeable skin] Figure 5.5: Possible layout of building morphology developed from concepts and wrapped around natural hillock 102

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5.1


concept

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concept

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2 BUILDING AS A BRIDGE BETWEEN OPPOSITES motheo college

NAT

URA

L HIL

L CITY

Figure 5.6: Plan - From the conceptual morphology, the building wraps around the natural hill, and stretches between city and nature 104

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historic cooling towers in close proximity


military fort museum natural hillock

circulation towers therapy facilities in upper tectonic level (adaptable stucture) stereotomic classrooms on lower level bridge allowing interconnectivity between centre, stretching towards urban landscape and presenting an alternative perspective view of the urban setting

NA

CI

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H AL

ILL

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motheo college

Figure 5.7: Model - From the conceptual morphology, the building wraps around the natural hill, and stretches between city and nature EDUCATION AND RESEARCH AUTISM

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Figure 5.9 - 5.11 (opposite page): Images portraying how building is wrapped around hill and displays the bridge-like structure stretching from the building towards the city scape

Figure 5.8: Different functions set out on structured grid plan against the natural hill 106

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5.9

The building allows the flow of spaces from public to private on both plan and section as a result of the structural assembly defining different spaces. The building comprises different structural considerations from stereotomic classrooms on lower level acting as an extension of the natural hillock, to the upper tectonic level accommodating therapy and research facilities. The tectonic assembly displays the adaptability and changeability of the users’ perspective of their surroundings and as a result, an adaptable structure that takes on the shape as the educational need changes, has the ability of allowing the desired flexible design to take form.

Figure 5.12: Section - The building is set into the natural hill, and stretches between city and nature. Private and public spaces defined as a result of the structural assembly

urban

community garden

private facility

nature

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motheo college

entrance and reception vocational training classrooms and workshops

kitchen and dining facilities vertical circulation towers view towards urban surroundings

private private classrooms

military fort museum

vacant space currently used for washing taxi’s

natural hill

vertical circulation towers

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Figure 5.13: Building function assembly on ground floor 108

public community garden

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bridge allowing a visual interaction from the centre, stretching towards the urban landscape and presenting an alternative perspective view of the urban setting

motheo college administration assembly hall drama and dance room

library and research centre vertical circulation towers view towards urban surroundings from safe nooks extending from the main circulation area

arts and crafts room music room motor skills therapy gymnasium

hydrotherapy centre military fort museum natural hill

vertical circulation towers

N Figure 5.14: Building function assembly on first floor EDUCATION AND RESEARCH AUTISM

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towards urban landscape

building embedded into hill community garden stretching between building and city, acting as joining element of the two private playground areas, threshold joining hill and building curved boundary of building displaying the connection with the natural landscape

Figure 5.15: Building as joining element between opposites: autists and neurotypicals, nature and city. 110

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city

community garden

building as platform

private play yard

natural hill

Figure 5.16: Section of building as joining element between opposites: autists and neurotypicals, nature and city. EDUCATION AND RESEARCH AUTISM

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natural hill defined entrance

community garden towards urban setting 5.18

building acts as platform connecting city and nature private playground areas; threshold joining hill and building tectonic assembly displays the adaptability and changeability of the users’ perspective of their surroundings stereotomic classrooms on lower level acting as an extension of the natural hillock

Figure 5.17 - 5.21: Model and sketches displaying the building as platform joining opposite entities 112

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5.17

community garden stretching between building and city, initiating interaction between the two


building skin adaptable to user needs

5.19

perspective view to public exterior

5.20 semi-public

5.21

private playground semi-public

private

private

Figure 5.22: Section displaying the adaptability and changeability of the structure’s skin according to the users’ requirements

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rooftop garden initiating a visual interaction from the centre, stretching towards the urban landscape and presenting an alternative perspective view of the urban setting

entrance and reception

building embedded into hill

vocational training classrooms and workshops administration facilities

research centre

arts and crafts room

view towards urban surroundings from safe nooks along the main circulation area

music room

motor skills therapy gymnasium

communal facilities initiating interaction between users

private playground areas on threshold joining hill and building (separated according to different age groups) stereotomic classroom boxes on ground floor acting as an extension of the natural hillock and reflects the natural landscape through an elegantly curved boundary

hydrotherapy centre

view towards urban surroundings from individual classroom boxes

natural hill vertical circulation towers

vertical circulation towers

Figure 5.23: Arrangement of functions on first floor

Figure 5.24: Arrangement of functions on ground floor

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N ground floor plan


centre arrival

The linear building design establishes a threshold that not only acts as the joining element between the natural setting and the urban centre, but also between individuals with opposing characteristics. When looking at the plan, the viewer can immediately see the contrast of nature (organic flow) and city (rigidity of the urban grid) without knowing which is on either side of the building. A playful curved boundary framing the building, on the elevation towards the hill, displays the connection with the natural landscape and allows a playful interaction between the users and their built surroundings.

up against hill towards entrance

Although the linearity of the design establishes the platform that acts as the joining element and initiates interaction, it poses problems regarding the practicality of moving through the in-between spaces of the building boundaries. Here the design lacks the element of a school’s communal character and requires the reconsideration of the buildings’ spatial organisation.

private playground embedded into hill community garden stretching between building and city, acting as joining element of the two

Figure 5.25: Lower ground floor with community garden

N

lower ground Figure 5.26: Playful curves on classroom edges evoke interaction with the users in the private playground areas floor plan EDUCATION AND RESEARCH AUTISM

view towards urban centre 115


3 AN ALTERNATIVE DESIGN CONSIDERATION motheo FET vocational training college

communal spaces: controlled in-between spaces of the building boundaries controlled courtyard

central courtyard

controlled courtyard

building enclosing central spaces of interaction

Figure 5.27: Spatial grid set against the natural contours in order to form separate courtyards for different age groups 116

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motheo FET vocational training college

building entrance framing the view onto the city landscape

opening up the central circulation area towards the urban surroundings, inviting visual interaction between opposites rooftop garden initiating a visual interaction from the centre, stretching towards the urban landscape and presenting an alternative perspective view of the urban setting

classrooms set against the hill allowing for private learning spaces and reinstates the ideology of “learning beneath the trees�, such as in the traditional African setting

Figure 5.28: Geometrical consideration of a building enclosing several courtyard/atrium spaces for controlled access


motheo FET vocational training college natural hill rooftop garden initiating a visual interaction from the centre, stretching towards the urban landscape and presenting an alternative perspective view of the urban setting central circulation zone that facilitates a combination of group assembly and individual learning spaces classrooms set against the hill allowing for private learning spaces and reinstates the ideology of “learning beneath the trees�, such as in the traditional African setting

building entrance framing the view onto the city landscape

Figure 5.29: Model displaying a compacted and controlled approach of functions accommodated within the facility EDUCATION AND RESEARCH AUTISM

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4 INTRODUCING COHESIVE COMMUNAL SPACES: a courtyard

In some cases where it appears as if the architect succeeded in creating a cohesive space, users might not experience it as such (Herzberger, 2008: online). The larger and more complex the centre is, the more inevitable it is that the different functions of the centre will tend to separate almost naturally. The obvious evidence of such a case is where different functions have been given different entrances. In such cases the only communal thread would be the circulation spaces. A functional cohesive space would be one where one entrance gives access to a collective hub within the centre from where each function can be accessed yet still be securely separated from one another. By introducing shared central courtyard spaces, the different building functions are unified and act in total cohesion. A collective hub that belongs to every part of the centre and is used by everybody in the centre, the typical expression of a square within the community giving access to every part of such community (Herzberger, 2008: online).

city

natural landscpae

classrooms set against the hill allowing for private learning spaces and reinstates the ideology of “learning beneath the trees�, such as in the traditional African setting 118

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communal space

Figure 5.30: An alternative consideration of an educational spatial layout


entrance

1

communal space

Figure 5.31: Introducing cohesive communal spaces framed within the centre

courtyard

classrooms set against the hill allowing for private learning spaces

therapy centre

entrance

2

Figure 5.32: Introducing a central courtyard, enclosed by peripheral buildings EDUCATION AND RESEARCH AUTISM

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5 BUILDING AS A TOWN SQUARE administration

main entrance assembly hall as communal space

terrace onto natural hill from the central courtyard student entrance

tranquil sensory garden with framed views onto the urban landscape

On a micro scale, within the school boundaries, there also need to be a town square. A space from where the school experience starts and from where every other function is accessed, where learners gather for communal functions, announcements and exchange views and ideas. A space that everyone can use and where no one can escape the attention of others. It does not have to be limited to only one such area. Not only does the typical school courtyard function as a town square, but so does the communal vegetable garden, the school hall, the private playgrounds and the tranquil sensory garden spaces.

vocational training classrooms staircases to private classrooms walkways facilitating activities community garden flowing beyond the boundaries into he public domain; imitating the artist painting beyond the canvas edges natural hill

Figure 5.33: ground floor plan with courtyard imitating a town square 120

As a community service, schools should strive to offer as wide a range of activities and functions as possible. Activities and functions such as therapy, sport and culture development, research facilities and other communal activities. The more such communal activities are offered by the school the more the school will be part of the community. More than often teachers are seen as intruders in a community and the more teachers, children and parents interact at various levels the better the relationship would be between facility and community to the extent that the facility becomes the foundation of the community. The place where everything happens, everything starts from in a similar way that a town square acts within a town – a place of togetherness. In this macro sense the school itself becomes a town square in the community (Herzberger, 2008: online).

kitchen and dining facility as communal space EDUCATION AND RESEARCH AUTISM

As with any space, providing any adjustment to it must still allow its original need to be addressed. In this case the adjusted passageway must still allow sufficient and safe circulation from point A to B. Changing the form and shape of the walkway through adding public architectural elements such as raised platforms, low walls, floor entrance extensions and planters, the design automatically forms recesses, nooks and seating spaces, facilitating activities other than walking. The successful application of this would be the one that delivers a satisfactorily balance between both public and private logics in the same space. This means, while a learner remains aware of his N surroundings in the public areas he is still able to focus on a specific ground floor plan task in a private area (Herzberger, 2008: online).


rooftop garden initiating a visual interaction from the centre, stretching towards the urban landscape and presenting an alternative perspective view of the urban setting Figure 5.34: perspective of building against the hillock as backdrop - viewed from the student entrance

research centre and library

framed walkways allowing visual interconnectivity from the centre, stretching towards urban landscape

arts and crafts room music room motor skills therapy gymnasium

Figure 5.35: perspective view of the central walkway framing views onto the urban landscape Figure 5.36: perspective view of the central walkway and sensory garden

private playground areas on threshold joining hill and building (separated according to different age groups) stereotomic classroom boxes on ground floor acting as an extension of the natural hillock and reflects the natural landscape through an elegantly curved boundary

natural hill

Figure 5.37: first floor plan with framed walkways allowing visual interconnectivity from the centre, stretching towards urban landscape

hydrotherapy centre

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N first floor plan 121


6 BUILDING AS A CANVAS OPENING UP ITS BOUNDARIES

natural hillock acting as a backdrop for the building, viewed from the internal sensory garden framed perspective view onto urban landscape; presenting an alternative perspective view of the urban setting

vertical garden imitating the extension of nature in different dimensions courtyard viewed from student entrance Figure 5.38: building becoming an extension of the hill 122

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Figure 5.39: model of building tucked into the hill with central courtyard, and extending towards the city scape

natural hillock

private playgrounds

private classrooms

framed bridge allowing visual interconnectivity from the centre, stretching towards urban landscape, presenting an alternative perspective view of the urban setting

private vegetable garden

student entrance public community garden flowing beyond the boundaries into he public domain; imitating the artist painting beyond the canvas edges EDUCATION AND RESEARCH AUTISM

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Figure 5.40: building on plan becoming an extension of the hill

arrival

administration main entrance terrace onto natural hill from the central courtyard

student entrance assembly hall as communal space staircases to private classrooms

private classrooms

tranquil sensory garden nooks vertical garden imitating the extension of nature in different dimensions walkways facilitating activities vocational training classrooms private vegetable garden public community garden flowing beyond the boundaries into he public domain; imitating the artist painting beyond the canvas edges kitchen and dining facility as communal space

natural hillock ground floor plan 124

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N


The more complex the building design the more difficult it will be to have interconnection between the different educational spaces, resulting in the centre becoming fragmented. Instead of giving each educational space its own identity one should consider a design with a uniform spatial theme. A spatial theme running throughout the building does not only strengthen the sense of community but also highlights the different aspects of the different functions to the extent that is strengthens its individual identity (Herzberger, 2008: online).

research centre

terrace onto natural hill from the central courtyard

library and computer centre vertical garden imitating the extension of nature in different dimensions

private classrooms

hydrotherapy centre

private playgrounds

framed bridge walkway

main circulation area

motor skills development centre building opened up towards public domain; imitating the artist painting beyond the canvas edges therapy facilities: arts and crafts room music room

natural hillock first floor plan

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Figure 5.41: building embedded into the hill 125


nature

military fort museum

natural hill with dense vegetation

classrooms set to climb upwards against natural hill; allowing for a subtle flow from hill to building

126

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private classrooms with natural light infiltration


city

hydrotherapy centre with indirect natural light infiltration

vertical planted wall in sensory garden imitating the extension of nature in different dimensions

public community garden flowing beyond the boundaries into he public domain; imitating the artist painting beyond the canvas edges

Figure 5.42: section of building as an extension of the landscape

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Figure 5.43: natural hillock acting as a backdrop for the building; building becoming an extension of the hill 128

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arrival

entrance

terrace onto natural hill from the central courtyard

rooftop garden initiating a visual interaction from the centre, stretching towards the urban landscape and presenting an alternative perspective view of the urban setting

courtyard

courtyard

community garden

Consider for one moment that the building is painted against the backdrop of the landscape. The canvas edges, displayed by the boundaries of the building, are split open porously in order to allow an infiltration of exterior and interior spaces. The community garden flowing beyond the boundaries into the public domain, imitates the artist painting beyond the canvas edges. Here the building is an extension of the landscape and acts as a platform that joins the building into its context. Initiating interaction and integration between the autists occupying the facility and the neurotypical surrounding urban environment, the platform of mutual interest sculpts perspectival differance through the mindbody dialectic and allows a celebration of differences between opposites.

Figure 5.44: building’s boundaries opened up, imitating an artist painting beyond the canvas edges

private classrooms

Both aspects of perception and logic play an important role in orienting the user as being the center of her lived experience within this space. Here, the building’s spatial organisation echoes the reflected experience of each inhabitant according to their perception of the surroundings. These perceptions differ from one person to another, and as a result of the inflow of controlled sensorial stimulation within certain areas, it evokes a dialogue between opposite individuals. Autists have difficulty discerning merely a part of their experience and are easily overwhelmed by the surrounding sensorial stimuli. As a result, considering the collaboration of the senses that allow these perceptions to be formed, the building’s layout has been structured so as to acknowledge that although each person’s spatial experience is unique, an alternative and focused perspective view of the surrounding environment can be presented. This alternative perspective allows the user to be adaptable towards interaction and allows a three-way interaction between mind, body and the surrounding environment (physical and social).

N EDUCATION AND RESEARCH AUTISM

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arrival

Figure 5.45 & 5.46 (opposite page): building on plan becoming an extension of the hill

administration main entrance perspective view from main entrance

terrace onto natural hill from the central courtyard

student entrance assembly hall as communal space dance and drama studio

private classrooms

sensory room tranquil sensory garden nooks vocational training classrooms vertical garden imitating the extension of nature in different dimensions walkways facilitating activities private vegetable garden public community garden flowing beyond the boundaries into the public domain; imitating the artist painting beyond the canvas edges kitchen and dining facility as communal space

natural hillock 130

ground floor plan EDUCATION AND RESEARCH AUTISM

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perspective view research centre rooftop garden initiating a visual interaction from the centre, stretching towards the urban landscape and presenting an alternative perspective view of the urban setting

terrace onto natural hill from the central courtyard

Figure 5.47: view from north-western perspective Figure 5.48: view from north-eastern perspective (entrance)

private classrooms

private playgrounds

hydrotherapy centre

main circulation area

library and computer centre

motor skills development centre

therapy facilities: arts and crafts room music room

natural hillock

first floor plan EDUCATION AND RESEARCH AUTISM

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natural hillock private classrooms

Figure 5.47: Final ground floor plan

deliveries

private vegetable garden

terrace onto natural hill from the central courtyard

sensory garden courtyard arrival

kitchen and dining facility as communal space

ground floor plan

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public community garden flowing beyond the boundaries into he public domain; imitating the artist painting beyond the canvas edges EDUCATION AND RESEARCH AUTISM

drop-off and parking


7 TOWARDS A FINAL DESIGN SYNTHESIS administration

tranquil sensory garden nooks reception and waiting area main entrance sensory room student entrance vertical garden imitating the extension of nature in different dimensions Figure 5.48: Entrance perspective

assembly hall as communal space vocational training classrooms

dance and drama studio

urban landscaping extending into the surrounding setting

movement flowing beyond the boundaries into the public domain; imitating the artist painting beyond the canvas edges EDUCATION AND RESEARCH AUTISM

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Figure 5.49: Final first floor plan

private playgrounds

terrace onto natural hill from the central courtyard

private classrooms

library and computer centre research centre

arts and crafts

music room

motor skills development centre hydrotherapy centre

first floor plan

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rooftop garden initiating a visual interaction from the centre, stretching towards the urban landscape and presenting an alternative perspective view of the urban setting


VEGETABLE GARDEN COURTYARD

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Figure 5.50: Final second floor plan

research library

parents’ lounge

second floor plan

N 136

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rooftop garden initiating a visual interaction from the centre, stretching towards the urban landscape and presenting an alternative perspective view of the urban setting


SENSORY GARDEN COURTYARD

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PERSPECTIVE VIEW FROM SOUTH AGAINST BACKDROP OF THE HILL

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double volume space in therapy centre: music room outlook points stretching towards the urban landscape and presenting an alternative perspective view of the urban setting

kitchen service deliveries terrace connecting private vegetable garden flowing beyond the boundaries into the public domain; imitating the artist painting beyond the canvas edges

Figure 5.51: 3D View towards service yard EDUCATION AND RESEARCH AUTISM

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MUSIC ROOM

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LIBRARY AND COMPUTER ROOM

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rooftop garden initiating a visual interaction from the centre, stretching towards the urban landscape and presenting an alternative perspective view of the urban setting

student entrance

arrival and drop-off

parking 142

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assembly hall as communal space

walkways: framed perspective view onto urban landscape

hydrotherapy centre

motor skills development centre

sensory garden courtyard

therapy centre: music room

private vegetable garden

therapy centre: arts and crafts

library and computer centre

Figure 5.52: North-South 3D section though design complex EDUCATION AND RESEARCH AUTISM

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library and computer centre public community garden flowing beyond the boundaries into the public domain; imitating the artist painting beyond the canvas edges

Figure 5.53: Bird’s eye view of desined toward the main entrance 144

therapy centre: music room arts and crafts

rooftop garden initiating a visual interaction from the centre, stretching towards the urban landscape and presenting an alternative perspective view of the urban setting

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motor skills development centre hydrotherapy centre

dance and drama studio assembly hall as communal space


private classrooms

private playgrounds research library

rooftop garden initiating a visual interaction from the centre, stretching towards the urban landscape and presenting an alternative perspective view of the urban setting

main entrance student entrance EDUCATION AND RESEARCH AUTISM

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Figure 5.54: North elevation EDUCATION AND RESEARCH AUTISM

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Figure 5.55: Sectional elevation through assembly hall Figure 5.56 (opposite): 3D Section perspective through assembly hall 148

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1

2 3

4 5

Setting 1.1 Topography 1.2 Climate 1.3 Soil Utility and space enhancement 2.1 Economic, political and moral factors User behaviour and requirements 3.1 Function and area requirement 3.2 Spatial requirements of classroom 3.3 Spatial requirements of the kitchen Form and function Circulation 5.1 Horizontal 5.2 Vertical

6

7

Structural detailing 6.1 Structure 6.2 Substructure: Foundations 6.3 Superstructure: Composite structure 6.4 Superstructure: First floor structure Building services 7.1 Electricity 7.2 Fire

8

Barrier-free environment

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Sustainability goals

10

Reaching the sustainability goals with specialised structural building systems

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TECHNICAL RESOLUTION 1

Setting

The proposed design of a school and research centre for autistic children is located in the area of the Bloemfontein CBD. Existing buildings in the vicinity include diverse styles, and though fragmented, it forms a historically significant unit portraying the many decades of development. Various aspects influenced the selection of the specific site, not only in Bloemfontein but also the Free State in general. Research and education facilities for autism in South Africa do not have a designated presence in the Free State, and with 400 reported cases per year, placing a treatment and research centre in this area is long overdue. While limited facilities for people with autism are offered at some broadband centres for handicapped people, a real need exists to address the specific needs of people with autism. One of the most important factors in selecting a site is accessibility. The building’s location is rooted in the existing setting of the CBD periphery and obtains its morphology by weaving itself into the natural landscape. The site is situated in the historically significant area of Waaihoek, in close proximity of the founding venue of the African National Congress (1912), the military Fort Museum and the educational node of Motheo College and other institutions of importance. The Bloemfontein CBD has over decades been subjected to all kinds of developments, not all of which were to its advantage, and reactivating the inner city life is long overdue. The site and development will act as a joining element that reinstates an outcast culture of the disabled into the urban setting. The site is located at the end of Mantle Street, east of the Military Museum hill in the southern part of the CBD. While within the CBD, both the hill and an open space towards Harvey road act as a protective barrier for sound and movement around the centre.

Figure 6.1: Site location (GoogleMaps, 2016: online) 152

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1.1. Topography Considering the steep slope on the site that gradually dissolves into a flat area, the building wraps itself onto the foot of the hill between nature and city. Physical design challenges include the regard for the character and scale of the immediate surrounding buildings.

Figure 6.2. Site slope

1.2. Climate Being situated in central South Africa, Bloemfontein is located in climatic zone 1 (cold interior), on the southern edge of the Highveld and borders the semi-arid region of the Karoo. Hot summer days with frequent afternoon thunderstorms are experienced (max 32°C; min 19°C), while cooler, dry winters, often accompanied by frosts, occur from June to August (max 14°C; min −3°C). Figure 6.3: Bloemfontein temperature

1.3. Soil Bloemfontein’s soil contains high amounts of clay and is prone to crack as a result of movement during expansion and shrinkage, depending on the amount of moisture contained within the soil. As an alternative and less expensive solution to using pile foundations, a reinforced concrete raft foundation will allow sufficient support on an expansive soil type such as this. Figure 6.4: Clay soil

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2

Utility and space enhancement

2.1. Economic, Political AND Moral Factors Autism South Africa has proposed the development of a centre for people with autism in the Bloemfontein CBD, which will encourage and assist integration of the local community’s people with disabilities into the urban society. The design necessitates creating a space which is resistant to the noise linked to the urban platform, allowing for a restorative and therapeutic space, while expanding the investigation sphere into the world of autism by establishing a research section within the centre. The school serves to accommodate a variety of autists ranging from students that are to be stimulated in physical development and mental capacity, as well as individuals who visit the centre to attain diverse therapeutic attention. The design’s ideal is to fulfil these requirements while creating interaction between the individuals occupying the school and the public.

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User Behaviour and Requirements

3.1. Function AND Area Requirements Autism South Africa’s brief includes an array of aspects, comprising primary educational, skill development, research and administrative spaces as well as secondary interactive spaces, for 104 individuals with autism between three and twenty-one years of age. Separate gathering spaces are required due to the different needs of students attending the centre, while allowing social interaction to take place both internally and externally. Semi-private areas consist of common areas such as a hall, a dining area, a library and computer laboratory and vocational training, all of which allow for skill development, while more private spaces are designated for research and therapy. The school for autistic children will focus on training a distant culture of mentally handicapped individuals in obtaining useful skills, which will in turn provide the opportunity to reinstate such persons into the urban economy. The building design stimulates students to relate with the urban environment by means of courtyards and viewpoints over the city landscape, while simultaneously creating an environment that protects the students from the urban noise. Established within the design, a community garden extends into the urban surroundings, linking with the existing informal traders in the vicinity and enabling interaction between the public and users of the centre. The school adds to the development of the context and the people occupying the space, therefore contributing to the overall cityscape’s becoming a more “disabled-friendly” setting.

arrival

entrance

Today’s buildings become part of tomorrow’s heritage (Moss, 2013: 1). It is of great importance that the character of a building’s surroundings is also displayed in the new building. Though aesthetically it should relate sensitively to the historical and urban context, it is also important to ensure that the sustainable aims of the design are achieved throughout the project. Ground floor: administration. First- and second floor: research

community garden

Ground floor: education and therapy. First floor: education Ground floor: therapy (interaction based skill development. First floor: library and therapy Community garden Ground floor: education. First floor: therapy Ground floor: assembly, dance and drama therapy

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Figure 6.5: Function organisation EDUCATION AND RESEARCH AUTISM

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3.2. Spatial requirements of classroom (ages 7-15) 1. Classroom entrance 2. Withdrawal space 3. Group tables 4. Teacher’s desk 5. Water desk 6. Storeroom 7. Kitchen 8. WC

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Figure 6.7: 3D Section through classroom

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3.3. Spatial requirements of the kitchen 1. Kitchen entrance 2. Cold storage room 3. Cutlary storage 4. Dry goods storage 5. Preparation area 6. Cleaning area 7. Serving area 8. Kitchen yard Figure 6.11: Flat roof detail

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Figure 6.9: Kitchen layout 158

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Figure 6.12: Cross section through kitchen (ground floor) and music room (first floor) EDUCATION AND RESEARCH AUTISM

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Figure 6.13: Ground floor function layout 160

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4

Form and Function

The morphology of the building was guided by its placement along the edge of a natural hill. The building becomes the porous boundary that binds nature and city in order to promote the possibility of interaction between autistic and neurotypical people. The building is formed with the character of a peripheral building, which is fragmented in order to allow an unobstructed visual connection between the building’s internal and external spaces. The scheme opens itself up towards the exterior setting, imitating a painting’s boundaries opening itself up to allow infiltration, while maintaining the necessary sense of security a school needs. The northern wing of the building holds the administration and research facilities, while the educational and therapeutic areas are set towards the southern end of the site, creating a central private courtyard that filters out into the public domain by means of a community garden.

1

1. Parking and student drop-off 2. Student entrance 3. Main entrance 4. Reception and waiting 5. WC 6. Principle and vice principle’s offices (including storage space, strong- and printing room) 7. Staff room with kitchenette 8. Classrooms 9. Sensory room 10. Dining area 11. Kitchen 12. Private vegetable garden 13. Sensory garden 14. Community garden 15. Garden tool store 16. Assembly hall 17. Dance and drama room 18. Kitchen yard

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Figure 6.14: First floor function layout

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1. Research centre reception and waiting 2. WC 3. Kitchen 4. Research facility 5. Classrooms 6. Private playground 7. Library and computer room 8. Arts and crafts therapy room 9. Music therapy room 10. Motor skills gymnasium 11. Hydrotherapy centre 12. Rooftop garden 13. Assembly hall upper seating level 14. Garden terrace towards military fort


Figure 6.15: Second floor function layout

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1. Parents’ lounge 2. Kitchen 3. WC 4. Research library 5. Rooftop garden

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5

Circulation

Due to the complexity of a building specifically accommodating persons with disabilities, special consideration ought to be given to circulation, both vertically and horizontally, as these factors are amongst the obstacles such individuals face on a daily basis. As a result of considering the mobility of wheelchair users and autists lacking motor skills used in climbing stairs, the design is challenged to elegantly formulate both horizontal and vertical circulation areas by means of ramps and minimum level changes along the building’s internal and external thresholds. 5.1. Horizontal The main circulation route stretches from the northern entrance of the building towards the southern wing on the site. Level routes are linked in a compilation so as to ease the flow of users throughout the scheme. From the main axis, perpendicular walkways are extended towards the eastern and western sides of the building. 5.2. Vertical The main vertical circulation node is located in the courtyard and extends up to the first floor by means of both a ramp and a staircase. Vertical circulation is celebrated by being visually linked to the courtyard garden space as the user ascends the staircases and ramps. Two other public staircase shafts are included on the northern and eastern ends of the structure in order to comply with fire regulations, especially considering the fact that persons with mental disabilities have to be evacuated by teachers and caretakers. The classrooms located to the western end of the building make use of private staircases, only allowing students of certain age groups to access private areas.

Figure 6.16: Horizontal circulation 164

Figure 6.17: Vertical circulation EDUCATION AND RESEARCH AUTISM

Figure 6.18: Movement flowing from the courtyards into the exterior city landscape


6

Structural detailing

6.1. structure The tectonic design of the centre comprises a main steel column and beam framework structure, together with face-brick, corrugated sheeting, glazed and timber infill-panel façades. These building materials were selected to mimic an interactive relation to the existing buildings on the periphery of the site, as well as with the historical context in which the facility is situated. The combination of the robustness of the masonry considers the urban setting while the lightweight quality of the glass and steel construction with corrugated sheeting façades is linked with simplicity in the detail (Cooke, 2013: 30). The buildings not only communicate with their surroundings on a horizontal plane but also vertically between earth and sky. Firstly, double-volume spaces allow for a “greener” building through supporting natural ventilation upwards and outwards in the motor-skills and hydrotherapy treatment facilities. Light filters in from a higher plane and gives vistas of the clouds framed by the purpose made truss. The combination of the corrugated, timber and glazed façades provides visual interaction between the inside and outside spaces of the building, whereas the solid masonry portions provide spaces of privacy, offering areas for more isolated or formal group sessions (Cooke, 2013: 29). It is crucial to understand that individuals with autism require spaces of silence with no echoed sounds in order to achieve focused learning in classrooms and therapy spaces. An investigation into the qualities and characteristics of the materials used is therefore necessary, and these materials have to be acoustically detailed in order to resist the urban noise impact. Examples include the use of sound absorbers, sound diffusers, noise barriers and insulation fabrics within the wall, floor and ceiling systems. 6.2. SUBSTRUCTURE: FOUNDATIONS Reinforced concrete raft foundations are used to support the structural steel frame of the building on a formal grid of increments of 2 500mm across the terrain, simplifying the complex structure. 6.3. Super structure: Composite structure Column and beam steel frame: 305mm x 165mm I-sections welded together to create a column and beam frame. Tie beams are welded to the frames, which in turn carry the structural floor supports. Ceiling system: 50mm thick IsoBoard over-rafter roof insulation system, 600mm in width, fixed on top of rafter. Acoustic insulation: 75mm Isover Aerolite insulation placed between the external corrugated sheeting and internal ceiling systems to act as a sound barrier, reducing sound traveling through the walls and roofs. Infill in various configurations : Masonry – The stereotomic character of red clay face bricks of 220mm x 110mm x 75mm is used as infill panels. Glass – 18mm double glazing panels are used throughout the building’s areas of fenestration. Corrugated metal sheets fixed to masonry with 100mm x 50mm x 20mm x 2mm lipped channel grits. Cast in-situ concrete (Class Two finish achieved with steelplate formwork) 6.4. SUPER STRUCTURE: FIRST FLOOR STRUCTURE PolyFlor Acoustic Forest fx PUR Vinyl floor covering Classic Walnut 3235 wide plank design, providing impact sound reduction of 19dB set onto 25mm cement screed on 150mm cast in-situ concrete slab supported by profiled metal decking, with expansion joints at 5sq. Composite decking set on 305 x 165mm cellular beams supported by main steel frame at 2 500mm centres. 25mm Isoboard nail-up ceiling fixed to 100 x 75 x 20 x 2.5mm cold-formed lipped channel bolted to cellular beams at 1250mm centres. EDUCATION AND RESEARCH AUTISM

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SUPER STRUCTURE: ROOF SYSTEM Purpose made truss: triangular timber beam with plywood strengthening core, set on angle against 302 x 51mm timber I-beam. Truss fixed to horizontal 305 x 165 mm IPE beam with custom made steel joist anchor. Roof covering: Chromadek 0,58mm thick, ISQ300 Corrugated profile roof sheeting finished in Dark Dolphin, fixed to cold rolled rectangular hollow steel section 80 x 40 x 2.5mm purlins

Purpose made roof system

300mm Reinforced concrete basement cavity wall with 100mm cavity between walls. Cavity to be filled with Isover Hydroboard insulation between walls. Galvanized wall ties: Horizontal - 900mm apart; vertical - 500mm apart

PolyFlor Acoustic Forest fx PUR Vinyl floorcovering Classic Walnut 3235 wide plank design, providing impact sound reduction of 19dB onto 20mm rigid foam insulation on top of 5mm mastic asphalt, set onto concrete slab

Subsructure: 200mm Reinforced concrete slab on 150mm coarse sand on 200mm crushed hardcore. 350 Micron damp proof membrane (DPM) below raft foundation and taken up along the edge of the foundation 166

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305 x 165 mm IPE column and beam main structural frame system at grid of 7 500mm x 7 500 mm at increments of 2500mm PolyFlor Acoustic Forest fx PUR Vinyl floor covering 150mm cast in-situ concrete slab supported by profiled metal decking 450 x 450mm concrete column

450 x 450 x 900mm concrete footing Figure 6.19: Structural system


Chromadek 0,58mm thick, ISQ300 Corrugated profile roof sheeting finished in Dark Dolphin, fixed to intermediate steel purlins at 450mm centres. Sheets to be fixed with 3 fasteners per sheet per purlin 50mm thick IsoBoard over-rafter roof insulation system, 600mm in width, fixed on top of rafter. IsoBoard secured against uplift using a counter batten above and screws and washer below, with a tongue and groove edge profile to enable adjacent boards to interlock

75mm Isover Aerolite insulation between 80 x 40 x 2.5mm steel purlins

Purpose made truss: triangular timber beam with plywood strengthening core, set on angle against 302 x 51mm timber I-beam. Truss fixed to horizontal 305 x 165 mm IPE beam with custom made steel joist anchor at 2 500mm centres

Cold rolled rectangular hollow steel section 80 x 40 x 2.5mm purlins

Purpose made 0,6 mm galvanised steel flashing with drip plate

1.6mm Purpose made Gutterfast seamless aluminum gutter in charcoal powder finish, with downpipes at 5 000mm centres. Sealtek flexible seamless waterproofing membrane

Figure 6.20: Roof structure EDUCATION AND RESEARCH AUTISM

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7

Building services

7.1. Electricity Due to the assembly of the building’s interior, electrical installation within the walls is possible. Concealed installation of electrical PVC conduits is to be done during the construction, and the conduits can be led within the floor structure. The PVC conduits distribute electrical wiring from the distribution box to the plug socket outlets and light switches throughout the building (Schmidt, 2013: 362). 7.2. Fire Regarding fire alarm systems, the building relies on an automatic sprinkler system as well as several fire hose reels that are connected to the hydrotherapy centre, and acts as the primary water supply for fire extinction. Resulting from the structural integrity of the building (steel coated with intumescent paint) that could easily be compromised in the case of fire, the design includes several escape points for rapid evacuation. The building warrants an alternative emergency escape within the northern building, as the travel distances to the escape point exceeds 45m (SANS 10400-T: 2011 - D.2.5).

Figure 6.21- 6.23: Fire escape routes and staircases 168

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Many users of the school have physical disabilities in addition to their mental disabilities, and therefore the design ought to create a barrier-free landscape where such persons can move around freely. All passageways have been designed to be a minimum of 2500mm wide, fully complying with the National Building Regulations’ requirement of 1800mm, while expanded areas for have been set out as resting zones.

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Figure 6.25: Recess areas from walkways

Sustainability goals

One of the aims of any new built development should be to reduce the impact climate changes have on the building by following prescribed energy efficiency guidelines, not only in terms of heat gain and/or loss, but also to strive to introduce some form of reusable energy. This creates added challenges within the built environment, but we should respond to these challenges in a creative way by designing and building resilient structures that offer a high standard of living for all their inhabitants and a healthy, enjoyable environment in which to learn, live and work. The present design therefore introduces smart, clean systems in terms of water management and reuse, solar heating and passive cooling, among others, which form the foundation of sustainable architecture. Sustainability aspects are not only incorporated in the design and construction of the building itself, but also in the daily operation of the facility by providing spaces for vegetable cultivation, which will not only reduce the facility’s operating costs but will also teach an important vocational trade and allow community participation in the facility.

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Reaching the sustainability goals with specialised structural building systems

The climatic characteristics of Bloemfontein range between extremes and exceed the human comfort range, with very hot summers and very cold winters. Spring and autumn have variable conditions (Schmidt, 2013: 105). In response to the aforementioned, while keeping the desired aesthetic quality a priority, numerous design applications are considered and recommended in order to achieve and reflect the sustainability goals. It is of great importance that the design systems lead to a building requiring little to zero energy use for heating and cooling, ultimately achieving a very energyefficient building. Throughout the design process, passive low-energy systems are considered (Cooke, 2013: 8), ranging from orientation, methods and materials of insulation to low-energy ventilation systems as well as water recycling methods. Sustainable and passive design princilpes include an accurate design method that would significantly reduce the use of energy, in particular the use of energy for heating and cooling, and is founded on the following principles, which all have characteristics that will influence the achievement of the desired results for the aforementioned design: • ventilation • landscape design and vegetation site planning and landscape detailing • water re-use • building orientation • insulation (prevention of heat gain/ loss and noise infiltration) • thermal massing • shading

SITE PLANNING AND LANDSCAPE DETAILING: Vegetation (LANDSCAPING) and ventilation The exterior spaces have been designed in such a manner so as to allow easy flow of access throughout the interior courtyard as well as along the eastern community garden connecting to the building. Careful attention is given to the design of these exterior landscaped spaces in the courtyard, which permits developmental activity while providing direct access into the building. Although a play on levels is perceived within the courtyards, all the levels are accessible in order to create a barrier-free landscape. The actual and visible transition between indoor and outdoor spaces in an urban design is of great importance (Moss, 2013: 38). Establishing a soft core and vegetationfilled sound buffer zones enhances the genius loci as it creates a calming effect on the building users, while they are in an active urban setting. This vegetation core presents the possibility of recycling surface water and using it within the building. It also creates a cool semi-enclosed area which offers the opportunity to send cool air into the building. 170

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Figure 6.26: Ventilation into building from the central soft core


Water re-use Water resources are under severe pressure due to the rapid increase in urbanisation as well as increased economic development. These resources have to be carefully managed in order to sustain growth, and innovative solutions are needed to continue the availability of clean and fresh water. These resources can be assisted by treating and reusing wastewater safely and by harvesting storm water for irrigation. Coupled with climate changes, urban Bloemfontein and its surroundings have seen increased pressure on the available water reserves. Water resources are unable to keep up with the demand, and it is therefore wise to consider alternative supplies of water into urban green construction methods and to maximise the harvesting of storm and grey water (Moss, 2013: 28). Due to the slope of the site, rain water flows down along the natural slope off the hill towards the northern and eastern ends of the site. The hill can be altered to prevent storm water damage at the bottom of the natural slope through implementing the use of a berm. Storm water run-off accumulating in the courtyard is drained towards the eastern side of the terrain. The water is then carried beneath the paving using channels, after which the run-off is directed to a storage zone for the reuse of surface water.

elevated walkway

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channel Figure 6.27: Water drainage from the cental courtyard spaces

Figure 6.28: Natural slope altered to prevent storm water damage at the bottom of the hill EDUCATION AND RESEARCH AUTISM

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Double façades and insulation Bloemfontein’s extreme climatic conditions put a high demand on insulation requirements to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature throughout the year. A good application of insulation, indicated in the different wall-sections below, is needed to act as a proper barrier to heat flow, consequently keeping the building cool in the summer and warm in the winter without having to make use of alternative heating and cooling systems. The centre is designed to cater for these extreme climatic fluctuations by means of insulated cavity walls, double glazing and airtight window and door systems. Passive design strategies ought to be used in conjunction with insulation in order to achieve the desired thermal comfort*. *Thermal comfort is the state of mind that expresses a comfortable state with the climatic environment.

insulation cavity

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cavity wall ties external brick wall

floor screed damp proofing membrane

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cavity wall ties insulation cavity

floor finish floor screed

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Figure 6.29: Wall systems with cavity: masonry Figure 6.30: Wall systems with cavity: concrete and masonry Figure 6.31: Wall systems with cavity: masonry with corrugated cladding EDUCATION AND RESEARCH AUTISM

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Orientation and shading The topography and orientation of the site allows the building to conveniently face north/south. The higher hill to the west shades afternoon sun, and designing an innovative protection over east-facing buildings allows filtered light to penetrate the building. From the early design stages, it was key to face the outdoor breathing spaces of the site while allowing as little as possible direct sunlight into the building. Innovative shading devices are installed in order to allow minimal direct sun into the building during summer, while allowing sufficient direct light to enter during winter, in this way heating the interior. Double façade systems and sufficient insulation are installed to regulate the interior temperature throughout the year according to the infiltration of direct sunlight.

N Figure 6.31 - 6.32: Building orientation and shading system

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The site is located in close proximity to two informal taxi ranks, allowing satisfactory access to the CBD. While a drop-off zone is situated at the northern entrance, eighteen parking spaces have been made available on upper level and fourty spaces within the basement. Five parking spaces have been demarcated for disabled individuals visiting the centre.

Figure 6.33 - 6.34: Parking layout and dimentions

Ultimately, the centre will exceed the technological standard of the ordinary as it responds to its context and the climate. The building will be able to sustain itself through low energy consumption and a limited polluting effect on the environment. The design is assembled through the use of buffer zones and sound absorbent materials in order to achieve a tranquil setting. The centre supports an array of different functions according to the list of accommodations, therefore requiring different application in different areas (i.e. some spaces require more soundproofing than others). Opening myself to the understanding of the requirements of such a centre, I have discovered that architectural construction, sustainability systems and finishes have a tremendous impact on the inhabitants’ experiences and the building’s ability to sustain itself. EDUCATION AND RESEARCH AUTISM

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REFLECTION AND EVALUATION

PART 4

Written from my personal point of view, the subsequent evaluation of the project reflects on the process followed along the journey to realising the final design solution of this dissertation. The intention of this reflection is to portray the process of design, conveying the challenges I faced and the resulting decisions I made during the process. By evaluating my successes and errors, the reflection acts as the concluding explanation to discern whether and how my decisions, responding to the challenges, informed the final design outcome.

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Upon commencing the investigative process of designing a centre of research and education for autism, my first challenge was finding a suitable site that best represented the character of an autist. In order for me to make an educated decision regarding the site location, it was necessary for me to broaden my basic knowledge of what it entails to live with autism. I conducted two formal interviews with experts on autism, attended lectures presented by autism South Africa and had numerous discussions with people who deal with autism on a daily basis. Finally, I came to the conclusion of portraying the character of autists, sensorially overwhelmed by the urban setting, as displaced in their social environment. Like the displacement perceived within their environment, a flat landscape allowing something to protrude through its skin sets forth the displacement of land and, as a result, forms a hill. I decided that the site location was to be set on a hill, between the sense of city and nature, imitating the tension between opposite entities such as autist and neurotypical. After deciding on the site, a preliminary investigation into the site was done in order to see if the proposed location would indeed act as a binding element between these two opposites on the urban platform as expected. Apart from considering the intense stimulative qualities of the site’s surroundings, I was dealing with the fact that autists prefer to withdraw themselves into their own world, and I was faced with the question of discerning how the design could act as a platform to unite both entities.

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From this ideology, captured within the conceptual ideas, I immediately started with design form-giving that displayed the essence of the centre as a bridge—which, to my regret, did not portray the typical character of a school at all. Setting out plans and developing the design in sections, I acted slightly hastily without considering alternative design solutions, resulting in my having to take a step back and re-evaluate the design. I investigated several precedent studies that allowed me to formulate an alternative idea of the design. Still keeping the essence of bridging the gap between opposites in mind, I reassembled the functions to suit the typology of a school more appropriately. This change in design morphology allowed me to re-appropriate the idea of allowing interaction between nature and city and between user and urban setting. The theoretical understanding of adapting perspectival differences by initiating dialogue allowed me to extend the morphological consideration that would allow a physical change of perspective or view of the urban setting. Focusing on the above-mentioned ideas, I opened up the peripheral building so as to allow an inflow of surrounding visual connections into the central courtyard. This new design consideration challenged me to keep the setting secure while still allowing interaction between the users inside the building and the surrounding public. I allowed for a controlled infiltration of public users into the building by means a community garden stretching towards the public interface. A new set of challenges arose in creating “safe zones” for the children occupying the centre. I endeavoured to create transition spaces along which the users could subtly adapt to the surrounding stimulation from the urban landscape. Towards the natural hillock’s elevation, I set out individual play spaces for the users, which cut off all visual connection to the city, while creating a secondary communal space within the central courtyards flowing outwards into the exterior spaces, allowing the desired interaction to take place as I initially planned. At first, I explored the integration and interaction between opposites, after which my investigation took a turn towards the distinct differences in the perceptual understanding of experiences. I encountered minimal challenges during the exploration of numerous pieces of literature, establishing my point of view, and this allowed me to venture further into the field of architecture as art, protruding past the edged canvas. Overall, throughout the development of the design process, I noticed a schematic flow, and although challenging me to consider alternative design solutions, the process I followed in realising the design solution allowed independent decision-making and achieved the desired outcome I envisioned for the project.

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Casey, E. 2009. Border vs. boundary at La Frontera [online]. Inauguration Faculty Lecture, Stony Brook University. Available from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T2Q52AREz1g [Accessed: 14 June 2016]. Cooke, J. 2013. Vele Secondary School. Journal of South African Institute of Architects, 62: 29–30. De Vries, P.J. 2016. (Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the University of Cape Town). Autism intervention seminar. Martie du Plessis School, Bloemfontein, 27 February. Design share. 2015. Hazelwood school for the multiple impaired [online]. Available from: http://www.designshare.com/index. php/projects/hazelwood-school-for-the-multiple-sensory-impaired/images@4885 [Accessed 26 April 2016]. ECC. 2013. American school of The Hague [online]. Available from: https://www.ash.nl/ftpimages/401/download/Final%20Designs.pdf [Accessed 14 March 2016]. Foster, J. 2014. Strange ink [online]. Available from: http://designobserver.com/feature/strange-ink/38524/ [Accessed 17 July 2016]. GA Architects. 2009. Rowhill Special Needs School [online]. Available from: http://www.autism-architects.com/?portfolio=rowhill-special-needs-school [Accessed 1 August 2016]. Google Maps. 2016. AfriGIS [online]. Available from: https://www.google.co.za/maps/ [Accessed 29 July 2016]. Goverde, H. 2015. Early education in a 16th century refurbished farm, Kraaijvanger in The Hague [online]. Available from: http://www.bmiaa.com/early-education-16th-century-refurbished-farm-kraaijvanger-hague/ [Accessed 29 February 2016]. Grice, G.S. 2011. The embodied image: Imagination and imagery in architecture [online]. Available at: http://www.nyjournalofbooks.com/book-review/embodied-image-imagination-and-imagery-architecture [Accessed 20 April 2016]. Griessel, D.J. 2010. April is autism month [online]. Available from: http://www.autismfs.org/PowerCMS/filesApril%20is%20is%20autism%20month(1).pdf [Accessed 10 November 2015].

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CENTRE OF RESEARCH AND EDUCATION FOR AUTISM

Anri van der Wath

Sculpting perspectival différance through the mind-body dialectic

2016 Architecture thesis: Centre of research and education for autism by anri van der wath  
2016 Architecture thesis: Centre of research and education for autism by anri van der wath  
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