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THESIS RISD Bachelor of Architecture 2013 Adrian Au

Gatherings of communities Architecture offers a space for different communities to gather, it is a programmatic utility that provides the essential tools of need. The act of one person going to a specific place is the result of a combination of multiple factors that best suits him or her. This conscious decision is usually based on personal preferences, real world physical parameters and the assessment of a space’s accessibility, time and program. These forces that draw people together through architecture is what I like to call communal gravity, the pull of individuals into a collective entity through the pragmatic necessities offered by architecture. Communal gravity exists in many scales, from the one to one scale, to the architectural scale, to the urban scale. It has a magnitude of influence that moves people from a couple feet to thousands of miles. The parameters of a communal gravitational node is set up to attract a certain demographic that coincidentally creates gathering of people from multiple communities. The micro-communities may be foreign from each another but there is always a common draw of the program entice them to coexist and potentially interact with each other. Architecture can dictate an environment according to the desires of an architect, but by placing the full responsibility on the architect, the result is a top-down design approach that is based on an overview of a system and subjective design decisions. A bottoms up design approach consists of piecing together of systems that collectively create an emergent system. This approach takes into account the fundamental human needs and assembles a system accordingly. I believe the bottoms up design approach allows more flexibility that is adaptable and usable, thus increasing the activity of a space. This studio will explore how to use architecture to attract different communities of individuals, we will also examine the intrinsic programmatic value of events and how to incorporate the power of an event as a gravitational node in the urban scale. This studio will explore material that are transformable, transportable temporary towards a final design of an outdoor temporary structure.



o m


u n





n. 1. a. A group of people living in the same locality and under the same government. b. The district or locality in which such a group lives. 2. a. A group of people having common interests: the scientific community; the international business community. b. A group viewed as forming a distinct segment of society: the gay community; the community of color. 3. a. Similarity or identity: a community of interests. b. Sharing, participation, and fellowship. 4. Society as a whole; the public.


The individual hi! I love cats I go to risd

I love soccer I love sushi

Before we start examing the constructs of human gathering and communities, one must understand the role of the individual. We, as individuals, are unique and have a specific lifestyle that is attached to us. We have particular preference in everything. From the clothes we wear, to the food we eat, to the place we work, to the things we like, to the things we don’t like.

Relationship and commonality

types of relationships


I go to risd too!

I love sushi too! strangers aquaintenses colleagues friends family


like sushi


Either through human relationships, or through a common factor that is inherent in an individuals, the result of this is the emergent of a community. Relationships and commonality are not mutually exclusive factors that determine a community, a relationship does not neccessarily require a connection in commonality; just as commonality between people does not neccessarily demand a relationship. relationships and commanality are not mutually exclusive. commonality


like sushi like thai food

scales of community



Once a relationship is established, the community pertains regardless of the physical distance between individuals. The range of distance can be from a few feet to a few thousand feet apart, through the interconnectedness of technology, are able to maintain the community. The number of individuals in a community also varies in scale, it can consist as little as two people to 8 billion people. 7

Place and space Place and space is often misunderstood as the same idea, however, their respective definition clearly sets them as mutually inclusive ideas. A space is the physical volume at a specific location, it serves as an empty container for activity to happen within. A space has physical constraints such as area and capcity. A place is consists of the particular purpose, with a (usually) specific activity that is intended for the space. The relationship of place and space can be presented as following: a place can only exists through a space, but a space does not necessarily have a place.

place noun 1. a. An area with definite or indefinite boundaries; a portion of space. b. Room or space, especially adequate space: There is place for everyone at the back of the room. 2. a. The particular portion of space occupied by or allocated to a person or thing. b. A building or an area set aside for a specified purpose: a place of worship. 3. a. A dwelling; a house: bought a place on the lake. b. A business establishment or office. c. A locality, such as a town or city: visited many places.

space noun 1. the unlimited or incalculably great three-dimensional realm or expanse in which all material objects are located and all events occur.


The function of a place

The function of a place can be categorized into two types: manifest and latent (Gutman 1966). The manifest function is the apparent function of a place, ususally some sort of economic, social or recreational activity, within which has a heirachy of program be primary, secondary, tertiary. The latent function is the byproduct of the activities and may be psychological and serves as a catalyst for human interaction, this function serves to enhance a sense of community.

latent function

manifest function economic activity social activity recreational activity service tools

enhance a sense of community human interaction communication experience


psychological byproduct

+ people active place


Urban movement journey


The urban displacement of an individual is the result of the activation of program of a place. This program has to be activated through the parameters of time, function, and location This entices the individual to perform the journey required to go from point a to b, the assessment of accessibility of a place then determines the mode of transportation required to travel, (also under the parameters of the accessbility of such vehicles).

Physical accessibility modes of transportation

walk 0:05

bike 0:10 car 1:00


The reach of an event is determined by the opportunities offerred through its programmatic function. The scale of the reach of an event often depends on the frequency of occurance, the magnitude of an event directly corrolates to the scale of reach of people.


The duration in time an event also has a direct relation to the frequency and amount of people in a space. If an event is open for a long period of time, such as an art exhibit, the surge of people will be spread out to different days, however if the event is shov



magnitude of event


plane 6:00


g a



e r

gath路er路ing (gr-ng)

n. 1.a. The action of one that gathers. b. That which is gathered or amassed; a collection or accumulation. 2. An assembly of persons; a meeting.


i n


Event precedent analysis WaterFire Ammenities Public art Food Performances Opportunities

location: Providence canal, bridges along the canal time: evening duration: ~ 4 hours (8pm-12pm) frequency: bi-weekly from May to October attendance average: 40,000 per night (10,000-100,000) sponsor: donation and sponsorships access: free

Activities Recreational Social Economical Infrastructure Pedestrian walkway Seating area Landscape Vehicular parking

12 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 am



attendees (per 10) event staff (per 10)


Block Party Ammenities Art sale RISD club sign up Recreational activity Social activity Activities Recreational Social location: Benefit Street (Waterman and College Streets.), Providence, RI time: saturday afternoon duration: ~ 3 hours (4pm to 7pm) frequency: yearly attendance average: 500 -1,000 sponsor: risd

Infrastructure Pedestrian walkway Seating area Tables

“We’ve shut down the street, so let’s have a party! The Block Party is a chance to meet with all the student clubs and organizations on campus, as well as RISD offices and non-profits and businesses around town. There will be live music, food, a photobooth, and a lot of great opportunities to get involved in your new community. Come join us!”

12 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 am pm attendees (per 10) event event staff (per 10)


trends in program and time my interactions









12 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 am


every program has a place

gatherings of two gatherings of three







12 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 am



tentpole density diagram




Thesis Probe This 2’x 6’ installation is an abstract representation of the programmatic relationships of architecture. The different colored lines represents separate communities of people, the size of each node represents the capacity of each building, and the lines indicate the interaction of people between each building. Nodes that have both colored lines represents the coexistence of multiple communities in one space.


The projection is of a knolly map of Providence. Each color represents the programmatic category of each building.

RISD Residential Downtown - Commercial Jewerly District - Commerical


competitions The flat lot competition Location: Flint, Michigan, USA Site: 8 Parking spaces Sponsors: AIA-Flint, Flint Public Art Project, and the Downtown Development Authority. Prize: $25,000 budget Deadline: 1st March, 2013

The American Institute of Architects-Flint and Flint Public Art Project announce the first annual Flat Lot Competition, a program to design and build a temporary summer pavilion in the central parking lot in downtown Flint. Formerly occupied by a series of office buildings and storefronts along Saginaw Street, the full-block surface parking lot known as the Flat Lot has become a staging ground for parades, flower-plantings, car shows, road races, and almost every sort of public event that draws large crowds. The Flat Lot Competition seeks proposals to design and

build an innovative temporary structure that provides shelter, shade, and seating for a wide range of public events, defines space within the lot, and demonstrates the capacity of contemporary architectural form-making to transform space and

captivate the public imagination–all while occupying no more than eight parking spaces during normal business hours. The winner of the competition will receive $25,000 to realize their proposal. A collaboration between AIA-Flint, Flint Public Art Project, and the Downtown Development Authority, the Flat Lot Competition is modeled after the MoMA/ PS1 Young Architects Program, which every year reinvents the former public school courtyard in Long Island City, Queens as a popular place for summer events and concerts. The Flat Lot will be a new center and symbol for the city, an attraction for regional visitors, and a site that amplifies the many existing events that help define cultural life in Flint.


ArchTriumph Pavilion - showcase peace pavilion Location: London, UK Site: Museum Gardens, Cambridge Heath Road, Bethanl Green, London Sponsors: ArchTriumph Prize: $10,000 budget Deadline: 8th March, 2013 To design a freestanding transportable temporary contemporary showcase Pavilion that reflects peace and its unique location. The Pavilion will reflect a peaceful space, encourage hope and highlight the need for ecological and sustainable architecture and design principles. It should provide an inspirational space where visiting architects, designers, families or general public can stand, seat around to admire, embrace diversity and engage with each other to share discussions about design, importance and benefits of peace and co-existence or other stories in a peaceful setting. This year’s Triumph Pavilion entitled “The Peace Pavilion” will be dedicated to the newly created South and North nations of Sudan as we encourage a peaceful future through architecture. Sudan as a whole is a region that has contributed to architecture with construction of more Pyramids than Egypt. Pyramids were still being built in Sudan as late as AD 300. There are roughly 220 pyramids in Sudan compared to approximately 120 much larger pyramids that were constructed in Ancient Egypt over a period of 3000 years. The planned Pavilion structure will be designed by a selected architect or design team through our Pavilion competition and our panel will select a project winner from the submitted entries that most satisfies the brief and is befitting of the Museum Gardens. Pavilion should not exceed 4 meters in height and 20 Square meters in area.


the site There culture of using vehicles as the main form of transportation has created a need for an urban infrastructure revolving around the function of cars. Parking lots have become an extremely common service for people to travel and park there cars. The universality of parking spots is what interests me about this site is it being such a mundane manner of the ‘lack’ of architecture. The rolled asphalt concrete creates a lack of character in the parking lot and is the latent byproduct of the purely functionalistic form of a space. The Flat Lot competition in downtown Flint sets up its design parameters on 8 parking spaces and is designed to be active on normal business hours. The ArchTriumph Peace Pavilion has its size parameters at the maximum of 13 feet (4m) in height and 220ft² (20 m²) in area.



157 ft²


1256 ft²

250 South Water St, Providence, RI


variations of 8 parking lot

street side parking


Material Experimentation 1: Plastic Bags

The parameters of a cheap, recyclable, lightweight, waterproof, modular led to the experimentation of plastic bags. The experimentation of plastic bags was to create a physical divider of spaces. This iteration of a plastic bags creates a divider that is expandable, lightweight, and is hung along a spine that is attached to a frame. There is a modular connection between the plastic bags, allowing for multiple and unlimited expansion in the y-axis. The inflatable balloons in each plastic bag creates volume from the flat plastic surface. The plastic bags become the organizing system for these balloons. The next challenge is to aggregate this to a self-standing structure and to expandable in the x, y and z-axis.


2: Woven Surfaces

The experimentation of the weaving surfaces was derived from the expandability of the plastic bags divider. This accordion structural system of a surface material (in this case butter-board) that has the ability to flex in one direction to create flexibility and the counter direction is coincidentally strengthened. The adjustability in the connection between surfaces allows increase in coverage in x-y axis, and can bend at a curve. The next challenge for this experiment will be to provide a structural form work, and to adjust the opacity within the cells of the structure. Butterboard

The two dowels become the structural frame of the accordion, which allows the surface to expand in one direction. Using stoppers at the dowels, it was able to deflect the natural tendency to collapse. This is a bigger scale than the old model, the material parameters of a bendable surface still applies. The path of expansion can be adjusted through the form of the dowel, but still limited to a two-way direction. 25

3: Hexagonal Paper Weaving

This experimentation is conducted through my interest in collapsible structures. By cutting out specific slits and folding the paper module to create a hexagonal-like structural system. This exploration modifies the bendable surface to a more geometric system. Unfortunately this iteration was only 100% structural at the spine connection between each surfaces.


3: Hexagonal Paper Weaving (modular)

Continuing from the surface weaving aggregation, this iteration treats each strip as an individual entity. The flexibility in the system is once again the element to highlight. The joints between each surfaces allow for the maximum angle of rotation thus allowing the form the change from a collapsed form, to a honeycomb like structure, and to almost any form on one dimension. This iteration has a limited flex at the second axis, and although is almost limitless in form, requires addition supporting framework to create the desired form.


4. Sticks and rotating joinery

This experiment is to use sticks and joints to create a system of connection that allows for transformation in the overall form. This system has no limitations at the angles of rotation which allows for maximum flexibility at the joint. The generated form is a variety of geometric shapes. This system is strictly a 2 dimensional system, there is a specific order of operation in the detail of the joinery. The next challenge is to create volume through transformation in the third dimension. 28

4. Sticks and rotating joinery (3D)

This experiment goes one step further than the previous iteration, the challenge to allow for transformation in the 3rd direction. Using the corrugated nature of the cardboard, the sticks of the structure creates a flexible structure that can transform in the x, y and z direction. The flexibility of the rotational joint can generate a free form that is adjustable and self standing. The next challenge is to reinforce this frame to allow for the structure to be load bearing, yet maintaining the flexibility of the form.


5 Hexagonal accordian (Cardboard)

The accordian cardboard modular system is a result of the attempt to transofmr the hexagonal weaving pattern into a small piece of sittable furniture. The idea of a chair that can be manipulated by the person.


5 Digital Experiments with expandable connections

What to do next? Modular expandanable temporary structures that provides the place and space for gathering of micro communities through an event!


Thesis Book Draft  

Documentaion of my work from wintersession