COLLECTIVE ARTEFACT - A Town Hall for Leith-
-Notes on the Methodology“Analogy…allows for both memory and history. It mixes “autobiography and civic history”, individual and collective.”(Eisenman, P. 1982) In Aldo Rossi’s architectural projects, drawings and written work, the process of analogy is of fundamental importance. It is through an analogical process that Rossi attempts to synthesise typology, image and memory, both personal and universal, into a methodology for architectural design. Seeking continuity with architectural tradition, contemporary architects such as Caruso St John also use a referential process to generate meaningful form, utilising both contextual references, as well as a broader sequence of related analogies. Unlike Rossi, their methodology extends to, or even focuses on, an interest in interior spaces, intending to evoke emotional associations through the experience of a building. (add reference) Interpreting this analogous methodology, it is intended that the town hall proposal engages in dialogue with the characteristics of place, utilising typology and existing urban artefacts as tools for constructing analogies. The process of design therefore began with a detailed study of Leith, establishing principles which informed subsequent proposals. A constantly evolving series of design exercises were then produced. Each developed ideas, or encompassed new references which were appraised against the design intentions, interrogating their potential for further development. Following this, it is intended that the “final” proposal is read as a stage in this investigation, as opposed to the culmination of it. Key design stages and studies are recorded in this document.
Aldo Rossi, “The Analogical City”
-Contents- Introduction 1 - Leith - Identity 2 - Site Selection 3 - Collective Space 4 - Studies & Proposals 5 - Integrated Proposal 6 - Appendix
-IntroductionLeith lies on the mouth of the Firth of Forth and is bisected by the eponymous lesser river, The Water of Leith. Throughout its development in the shadow of neighbouring Edinburgh, Leith retained a distinct identity, characterised by its maritime and industrial heritage. The urban grain physically records this identity in the many rehabilitated past industrial buildings which constitute the built fabric. The twenty first century inhabitants are a diverse demographic, but the numerous monuments, relics and tacit symbols of an industrial past continue to live in the collective consciousness. The role of a town hall in contemporary society is a contentious issue. Many historic precedents elucidate a division between the ruling class and the populous through the exclusiveness and elevation of such buildings. An alternative proposition is sought in this project. A literal transparency has been less than subtly alluded to in recent democratic assembly buildings. The expectation that a transparent elevation correlates to political accountability and transparency, is a trend which is also challenged here. In a new town hall for Leith, it is intended that issues of participation in civic and community life can be addressed through a heightened sense of ownership. The identity and character of Leith and its people are of fundamental importance in defining a responsive, democratic architecture of its place.
A large mural on the gable wall of a tenement captures the identity of Leithers. The cultural significance of Leithâ€™s industrial heritage is evident and the image offers an incite into how the people of Leith traditionally view themselves.
-Civic Institution or “Iconic Building”?Adam Caruso (2008) states that recent decades have seen an increasing preoccupation within the architectural mainstream in seeking ever more outlandish forms, which invest more in a capitalist culture obsessed with branding, than any desire for a meaningful dialogue with society. There appears to be a glaring contradiction in creating a commodified “logo” building, vying for recognition within the competitive global market, while professing its relevance to a local community. Caruso further reflects, “I wonder if architecture has the capacity to marshall energy, to imagine an environment that holds the emotions of a place and the significance of human endeavour.” (Caruso, 2008)
Glasgow City Chambers is an impressive but exclusive and institutional building.
Foster + Partners - London City Hall
Proposal for new Tallin City Hall in Estonia by “BIG” Architects
-Typological Discussion- Permanence of the Artefact In the text “The Architecture of the City”, Aldo Rossi proposes the classification of typologies as a means of understanding the irreducible architectural model within a given building. The understanding of typology which Rossi presents is independent of both function and form and refers to the fundamental essence or idea within the object. Eisenman suggests Rossi’s theory of types is also concerned with an abstract dimension, which renders type as a device, facilitating the transfer of memory from previous incarnations of a type to subsequent ones. (Eisenman, 1982) Conceptually, this alludes to the possibility of creating new forms with the embedded meaning and logic of the pre-existing model. Attempting to analyze the town hall as a type reveals numerous typological variations and themes. Many ancient civic centres originate from the Roman basilica typology, while others later adopted a palatial courtyard and colonnade. Vast neo-gothic compositions were commonplace in the Victorian era.
Ground Floor Plan
The Palazzo Della Ragione in Padua is discussed in Rossi’s text as an enduring urban artefact, and resembles the elongated central volume of a Roman basilica typology. Palazzos were the centre of power in Italian city states, serving a civic and administrative role as well as providing public amenities, and often a palatial residence. The buildings however, have assumed numerous functions over time, and as such have remained relevant to the city. The ability of the typology to adapt to the needs of society and thus retain vitality, is potentially interesting when considering the ever changing needs of the contemporary city. Proposing a new structure which is then “inhabited” by the residents of the city is a democratic model which would also ensure the enduring relevance and permanence of the artefact. Could the new town hall achieve this by interpreting a prevalent and enduring local typology, and therefore also reflect and embody the specific history of place?
Section Palazzo della Ragione - Padua. The main chamber is elevated to the piano nobile, the ground floor is permeable & open to the city.
-The City of Collective Memory1“One can say that the city itself is the collective memory of its people, and like memory it is associated with objects and places.” Aldo Rossi (1966) Rossi views the city as a complex man-made object. The physical form of the city records the achievements of its many creators and contributors throughout its history. The individual “objects and places” within the city are considered artefacts in themselves, and while experienced in the present, their form and image is connected to the time in which they were created. Rossi therefore concludes that the past is partly being experienced in the present. (Rossi, 1966) Experiencing the layers of history in the city with the immediacy which is often evident has an undeniable potency. In a visually orientated contemporary culture, the picturesque image of the city is often valued above all else. The city however, is rich in associations, both personal and in a wider cultural context; individual and collective. Interpreting Rossi’s theory presented in “The Architecture of the City”, creating a new project in dialogue with these existing artefacts has the potential to foster cultural continuity and add to the rich strata of the city’s fabric.
The Shore, Leith - Historic Image
-Mapping Urban ArtefactsUndertaken as part of an accompanying design research study, a series of etchings were produced which analysed the development of the urban grain in Leith as a stratigraphic drawing: literally, a drawing of the cityâ€™s layers of history, presented in the same physical space. Using etching as a medium allowed this process to be carried out incrementally. Each layer was drawn onto the plate, etched, printed and then partially sanded away, before repeating the process for a subsequent layer. By the final layer, a composite image had been created and the development was studied as a series, providing an interesting insight into the role of the cityâ€™s artefacts in the development of the urban grain. In addition to this, the drawings revealed elements of permanence in the city in the areas where layers continuously corresponded. Selecting areas to study at a closer scale, individual artefacts were drawn in elevation, plan and section to analyze their typological characteristics. Historical research was also carried out to discern their relationship to events in Leithâ€™s history. Visiting the chosen artefacts, their relationship to subsequent layers was also documented through photo collage.
LEITH - Identity Location - Maritime Economy Leithâ€™s natural harbour & location at the mouth of two rivers has formed a long tradition of maritime trading, centred around the now expansive docks. Although the industrial revolution saw major sprawling development of this area, the urban core of Leith has always been comprised of an amalgamation of typologies. Merchantâ€™s warehouses, bonds, and residential quarters ever in dense proximity.
Edinburgh & Leith
Leith Docks - Historic Photograph
-Historic Character- Industrial Urban Landscape
Industrial buildings within the urban core
Arthurâ€™s Seat from Leith Docks.
-Industrial TypologiesFormer industrial buildings remain dispersed throughout the urban grain, forming a core part of the existing building stock. The austere quality of these buildings contributes to the character of place, and represents a tangible connection to the industrial heritage of Leith. The image of these structures in the urban fabric shapes the identity of place, and their juxtaposition against more formal types defines a distinct ad-hoc quality of streetscape, which has an impact on the overall urban character. The permanence of many industrial structures suggests a capacity of the type to endure change in the city, and facilitate a variety of uses. In this sense, the redundant industrial type is a model for a negotiable urban building: evolving to the cities needs, while embodying the memory of their former use.
Former bonded warehouse - Leith. Currently in mixed use tenure, including commercial & residential properties.
An economy of construction is evident in Leithâ€™s industrial buildings. Most use rough hewn stone or brick and express the stereotomic mass of their material.
Typology Map - Industrial types within historic core.
Former bonded warehouse - Leith. Currently converted for residential use.
Centre of Leith
-Leith & EdinburghLeith developed as a separate entity from Edinburgh. Early records of settlement date from 80A.D, and it was not until the early 20th century that Edinburghâ€™s expansion north finally began to merge with Leiths expansion south. Following nearly 100 years functioning as an official independent burgh, a bill was put forward in 1920 proposing Leiths amalgamation with Edinburgh. With public opinion in Leith overwhelmingly against the proposal, a late referendum delivered a resounding response. The result was 5357 in favour and 29,891 against, and despite the clear will of itâ€™s inhabitants, Leith was officially amalgamated in the same year. The events surrounding the amalgamation remain well remembered today. Many Leithers feel a profound resentment and continue to promote an independent identity.
Former Autonomous Town Hall
Chronological Map of Edinburgh & Leith.
Centre of Edinburgh
Etched maps investigating the stratification of the Urban Grain.
Character of Place
Juxtaposition: Civic/Industrial Unlike the formal relationship to public space associated with the “traditional” town hall, Leith’s former civic centre has a very direct relationship with the public realm. The sandstone Georgian structure occupies a corner site and addresses the street with a hard edge. The building itself is adjoined to Georgian town houses, but is distinguished as an “object” in its own right with a subtle, yet legible civic character and scale.
The insertion of buildings from the Georgian period appear to have attempted to rationalise certain streetscapes with a more formal civic character. Civic buildings and town house typologies from this period line areas of more prominent streets. Belying this proscribed formality, ad-hoc warehouses or cottages lie adjacent, either off the primary streets, or within urban blocks. This attempt at formalising streetscapes is wholly unsuccessful in its scope. Pockets of formality result, juxtaposed against the more characteristic informality of vernacular Scottish urbanism. Streetscapes therefore posses a diverse scale and inconsistent building line which contribute to the individuality of Leith’s character.
Analysis of Leith’s historic urban grain suggests that a large “civic square” as an urban typology has never existed. This directness in which hierarchies are subtly established, reinforces the proposal for an object embedded in the urban fabric.
Former Town Hall - Constitution Stret
-Site SelectionAn erosion of density in the historic centre has resulted in a lack of coherent streets. Primary vehicular routes adhere to the imprint of the old fortifications, severing the connection of the central core to the rest of the area. The Shore area is an enclave within this however, but its influence remains limited to the waterfront street. The chosen site was identified as it offered the potential to insert a new public building into this historic centre, thus reactivating a primary route through the area, which in turn could serve to reconnect to the already regenerated Shore.
Figure ground drawing of the historic core as it exists today, shown in isolation.
1891 Historic Map - Dense urban grain with well defined routes through the historic core.
The Water of Leith
Regenerated Shore area
Present situation - The site within the historic core addresses an important through route, with the potential to redefine a sense of legibility.
-Town Hall SiteThe notion of reinterpreting a vernacular typology led the decision to select a site which in many ways denied the conventional formal relationship of a civic building to its surroundings. Instead, the opportunity to inbed the building within the grain was considered, responding to the fractured, incoherent state of the urban fabric.
Queen Charlotte Street, Leith Water of Leith
Existing church courtyard
Leith Links Park
1 - Queen Charlotte Street/Constitution Street Junction
2 - The Shore - Waterfront Street
1 Proposed Site
-Site ConditionsTo The Water of Leith
To Leith Docks
Re-make street edge & address existing urban space
To Leith Links
Address existing church courtyard
Queen Charlotte Street To Leith Walk
To The Water of Leith
COLLECTIVE SPACE The Smithsons “Scales of Association” diagram articulates the varying degrees of social engagement facilitated within a community environment. The study serves to highlight the connection between society and place, and alludes to the multitude of social relationships supported by collective space. Public space is increasingly threatened in the contemporary city, as the urban environment rapidly falls under the control of private interest. This move towards an individualistic economy and subsequent erosion of common, collective space is a threat to the idea of a community based society. Interpreting the town hall as a collective space, the building could form a locus for engagement in community and serve to reconnect the local populace to their urban environment. In this sense, the primary interest of the proposal is in its relationship to the city - a “fixed point” in the urban fabric, which the community can appropriate and further develop as the needs of society change. The Smithsons developed their ‘Scales of Association’ diagram (above) with inspiration from Geddes’ Valley Section.
-LocalismLeith appears to have a strong participatory community, with a multitude of groups & societies investing in the locality. Organisations such as these are critically important in enabling people to engage meaningfully with place. Their collective impact however, could be further reaching and better focused. The proposal could offer a locus for community activism, encouraging the citizens to take ownership of a public space, further strengthening the connection between people and place.
Patrick Geddes’s diagrammatic “Valley Section” demonstrates the relationship between “place, work and folk” with typical occupations connecting the regions inhabitants to the landscape, and alluding to an idealised vision of rooted communities.
-Speculating on Inhabitation-
Public and civic functions were tested as the proposed â€œinhabitationâ€? of the building. The project aims to provide a series of spaces within a structure of civic quality. The spaces would facilitate inhabitation at a range of scales, from large groups to individuals, work to public functions.
Civic Amenities & Education - Archive, Registry & Library
Accessible community space for discussion, debate, work, learning & study
-Spatial RequirementsNegotiable Civic Use
Precedent Study - Saynatsalo Town Hall, Alvar Aalto.
A space of civic proportions is included in the proposal. However, it is intended that the space serve a public role as opposed to as a formal, dedicated council chamber. Typically, a council chamber in Scotland is used 12 times per year, meaning the celebrated space of the building is in regular disuse. Using the space for public & ceremonial events, debate, youth council meetings etc, will allow a more integrated pattern of use. Developing the idea of â€œinhabitation of spaceâ€? the room will be designed to accommodate changing uses. In addition, smaller scale, more formal meeting spaces will be provided elsewhere.
Civic Space Similarly to the requirements for Leith, Aaltoâ€™s Saynatsalo town hall represents a small community. The building provides spaces for diverse functions, including a public library & commercial units. To distinguish the civic space, Aalto expresses the council chamber as a volumetric element elevated from the public functions.
-The civic space should occupy a hierarchically dominant position within the scheme. -Adjacency to the primary means of circulation is essential.
Saynatsalo Town Hall - Cross Section through council chamber & courtyard
Scale & Proportion The proportion of the volume alludes to a civic character, reinforced by the expressive structural roof trusses. As a relatively small civic space, a sense of grandeur is clearly intended, responsive to the importance of its function.
Work & Study - Human Scale
Public & Community
The inclusion of a library is intended to extend the civic & public interaction within the building. Patrick Geddesâ€™ interest in community education and the study of ones local environment is suggestive of a local history & genealogy collection, supported by individual & group study space.
Following the intention to include community education space, individual areas for work and study are intended to encourage cultural development through participation, providing facilities such as free internet access to those in the community who are underprivileged.
-Spaces should have a degree of privacy, yet users of the building should be aware of its accessibility. -Good natural light & ventilation required.
-Spaces should have an intimate quality, yet not be isolated from more communal areas. -Adjacency to a window preferred.
Places for social interaction are important for attracting the community to use the building. A cafe, intended to be independently operated, as well as space for small markets & events will activate the programme as well as generating income, supplementing the maintenance of community spaces.
Glasgow School of Art Library, C.R. Mackintosh
Phillips Exeter Library, Louis Kahn
The Drill Hall, Edinburgh
The interior of Mackintoshâ€™s library uses structure within the space to define areas for book storage, group tables, and individual reading carrels within bay windows. The split level creates a sectional relationship to upper floors. A refined palate of materials creates a dignified interior with a rich and timeless quality.
Kahnâ€™s Exeter library creates spaces with a human scale, for use by individuals, which are accommodated as intimate areas of larger spaces. Kahn defines these almost as pieces of furniture, arranged adjacent to eternal windows and within an overall hierarchy.
The Drill Hall is a community arts and education centre in Edinburgh occupied within an existing listed building. The central space is used as a community run cafe and accommodates flea markets and community events.
- A robust space with hard wearing materials would be required to accommodate a range of public uses. -Adjacency to the public realm preferred.
STUDIES & PROPOSALS -ArtefactAnalytical Study “The Black Vaults” in Leith is an 18th century merchant’s warehouse with a grand auctioneers room on the upper floor, and vaulted cellars below. Former store rooms and offices have now become restaurants and residential accommodation. The building could be thought of as a hybrid typology, and became of particular interest as it is specific to the maritime economy of Leith. A potential for dual inhabitation by different functions and an enduring adaptability in providing spaces of varying scale and quality was identified.
Typological Characteristics The dichotomy between excavated subterranean space, celebrated spaces on a â€œpiano nobileâ€? and the inhabited roof space are architectural themes which are investigated through design proposals. A utilitarian quality is evident in the building, while specific rooms are treated differently, with a single generously proportioned volume defining a spatial hierarchy . The linear shed arrangement is consistent with that of an industrial typology.
Inhabited Roof Space
Excavated Space Repetitive language and ambiguous relationship to internal spaces
Interpreting a Local Typology Initial propositions responded directly to characteristics of place-specific typologies, adopting or interpreting their spatial qualities and sectional hierarchy. As a speculative exercise, the functions of the town hall would then inhabit a structure which has an inherent connection to place. Developed as a massing study, the linear form addressed the street, and rear courtyard with a gable elevation, dealing with the existing site conditions.
Early Massing Model 1:200
Structural Tension - Mass & Lightness Abstracting the structural language of the merchantâ€™s storage vaults, a vaulted concrete canopy was tested, with the intention of developing tension between the implied compressive structure of the vault, and itâ€™s disconnection from any structural load. This was expressed as a means of bringing natural light into the space. Reference is made to the vaulted stores as a spatial condition, while the structural mass is denied.
Market - A robust internal public space for community use.
Sectional Abstractions Further iterations began to incorporate a more civic posture responding to the wider context in terms of scale and massing. Volumetric elements were separated with the elevated form of the civic hall acting as a marker. Sectional abstractions were also explored, developing more complex sequences of spatial adjacencies, or manipulating the form of spaces within the regular volume. Considering these initial approaches, it was felt that reference to the vaulted storage spaces would be most relevant when interpreted more literally in their original capacity as a subterranean depository. Further developments pursued this approach, inhabiting the spaces as the archive of public records.
Massing Model investigating a more civic volumetric language 1:200
-Exploring an Industrial LanguageElevation Studies Alluding to an industrial character, early investigations drew inspiration from Bernd and Hilla Becherâ€™s photographs of northern European industrial sheds. The faĂ§ades are composed of brick, steel and glass within a repeated frame structure, which gives an equivalence to the materials and blurs their individual quality. Beginning to work primarily with physical models , a dense repetition of thin concrete and glass elements was explored. The elevation would allude to a more monolithic quality viewed from an oblique angle, and when viewed directly, would break down the weight and mass of the concrete, thus contradicting its inherent weight. Conscious of the buildingâ€™s civic role, later developments aimed to retain aspects of an industrial character, while alluding to a more civic stature. Bernd & Hilla Becher
Study models 1:100
-Spatial Development- Excavated Space
Archives & Reading Room - Carved Mass
Tectonic structure juxtaposed against stereotomic
The vernacular vaulted form was tested as an archive of public records. Ways of bringing natural light into the spaces to provide reading bays was explored through physical models.
A larger reading room was developed below ground level, forming a connection to the spaces above, and bringing diffused natural light into the archive. (3D model & render)
Developing the scale and materiality of the reading room, dark grey brick was applied homogeneously from a datum at ground level, as an implied continuation of the cobbled ground surface on the street. (3D model & render)
-Spatial Development- Use, Construction, Material & Light
Critical Appraisal Drawing conclusions from initial speculations, a more developed proposal was produced, incorporating typological references, and beginning to develop a language analogous to vernacular industrial buildings in the broader context. Considering the merits of the initial line of enquiry, it was felt that arriving at a form with a functionally driven specificity negated a certain quality of permanence evident in the rationality of the industrial typology. In response to the idea of an enduring artefact, an alternative strategy was sought; one capable of facilitating the programmatic requirements while alluding to a permanence associated with the inherent potential for negotiable use.
1:100 models used to explore form and space.
-Industrial SpaceContinuing to develop an enquiry into industrial typologies and their inherent spatial qualities led to an exploration of an industrial shed. The building consists of an expressed frame structure within a load bearing masonry shell , enclosing a large single volume. Light enters primarily through the roof, filtered down through the filigree structure.
Industrial - Civic -Bibliotheque Sainte Genevieve - Henri Labrouste
Utilising industrial processes and developments in fabrication technology, Henri Labrousteâ€™s Library in Paris encloses a an ornate cast iron structure within a rational masonry volume. The structural repetition is comparable to that of the industrial shed, while the quality of material and structural expression endow the building with a distinctly civic character.
Referencing an Industrial Condition Developing an analogy to the industrial shed typology as a spatial condition, the proposal began investigating structure as a means of expressing an industrial language, while civic gestures were made through scale and a hierarchy of space: the utilitarian industrial truss, juxtaposed against an interior of civic proportion.
Testing top light through filigree structure
-Civic SpaceDeveloping Negotiable Use & Programme Interaction
Through the sequential development of design proposals, the civic space has been tested as a space expressed with a separate volumetric element. The intention was to use a hierarchy within the massing to distinguish its civic role. Appraising this approach, it was felt that a programmatic separation resulted, contradicting a desire for a democratic integration. With the intention of better supporting varied used, the space began to be treated as an internal courtyard, the elevations of which would form points of interaction between programme. When not in use, the â€œcourtyardâ€? would continue to contribute spatially to the building, with an atrium like quality to be enjoyed from circulation routes or overlooking spaces Internal courtyard
Internal courtyard used for public event
-Sectional RelationshipsDeveloping a more consolidated approach to the massing allowed sectional relationships to develop between spaces of varying scales. Intimate spaces were tested on upper levels, looking over the civic space. The idea of a civic marker was intensified in the form of an outlook tower.
First Floor Plan
Appraisal of this design exercise became a catalyst for development of a structural solution. The idea of a rational & inherently adaptable structure was identified as a means of positioning the proposal as an enduring artefact. Later iterations moved away from explicitly civic gestures such as the tower form, instead intending to bestow a more subtle civic quality on the building, appropriate to the character of Leith.
Structure occupying and defining space.
Louis Kahn - Yale Centre for British Art
“...the palazzo democratized and the factory individualized” (Cadwell 2007)
Discussing the Yale Centre for British Art in the book “Strange Details”, Michael Cadwell notes the clear reference to the Italian renaissance palazzo type: an inner courtyard is enclosed by cellular rooms, arranged within an order of axial symmetry. In places however, the hierarchical order is undermined in Kahn’s project. For example, the diagonal entrance sequence breaks the axial approach, and the location of the service zone in the central area of the plan diffuses the hierarchy of the courtyard. Considering the explicitly stated structure and repetitive grid of columns expressed in the building, Cadwell goes on to suggest another reference alluded to is the factory type. Again however, Kahn undermines the relentless rigor associated with the typology. The spatial conditions of the building break the monotonous functionality of the factory, affording a more varied and individual spatial character .
Yale Centre for British Art - Inner Courtyard
The organization of the building is further articulated by the omission of structural columns to create large internal volumes. In a spatial sequence, from compressed entry, to courtyard, to cellular enclosures, the structure is utilized to create spatial variation while the grid is ever present.
Palazzo Farnese - Rome
Yale Centre for British Art - Third Floor Plan
Louis Kahn - Yale Centre for British Art Structure, In-fill & Order The concrete structure of the building is expressed throughout. Conceptually the order of the structure begins with a cartesian grid of 10 bays by 6 bays, each 6 x 6 meters. Unlike Kahnâ€™s earlier work, the apparent formal clarity of the structure is deliberately undermined in places, creating structural ambiguity which results in interesting spatial consequences. Kahn makes enclosures by partitioning between columns, while clearly expressing the separation of the structural armature and the in-fill sections. The materiality initially makes this separation legible, with detailing reinforcing this in places. In-fills are expressed sometimes flush with the structure, and elsewhere the structure in recessed, subsuming the expected weight and depth of respective elements.
Yale Centre for British Art - Diagram showing structural grid, order & void
Industrial Structure & Civic Order Repetitive Grid & Inner Courtyard
Development of structural order, internal courtyard, served and service spaces
Development of First Floor Plan (March) 1:500
Exploratory Model 1:50 - Internal Courtyard as meeting space
Developing a Language of Structure & In-fill
1:50 Working model, developing space & structure in section
1:50 Working model, developing space & structure in section
1:100 sectional model developing a more coherent structural logic
-Elevation- Material Treatment
Leith - Civic
Leith - Industrial
Refined masonry construction - civic application
Crude masory construction. - utilitarian application
Use of a relatively crude masonry material, used in a more refined way.
An economy of construction demonstrated in the utilitarian warehouses of Leith informed an investigation into appropriate materials. Studying the masonry construction of both Leithâ€™s many industrial buildings and its civic architecture, served as a point of reference from which the project aimed to mediate between, and refer to, the existing building stock. Brick was selected as a reference to the economic use of materials utilised in industrial structures, while references to the buildingâ€™s civic role were articulated through its elevational treatment. The material is used as a skin over the concrete framed super-structure and is applied in various ways to create a deliberate differentiation of conditions, which aim to articulate the hierarchical prominence of the gable elevations. Elevating the material quality above the somewhat crude construction of industrial buildings was explored through reference to Georgian architecture and the material expression of the former town hall. A differentiation of material language is used on such buildings, achieving a sense of scale which serves to visually separate the elevation at street level from the upper storeys. Interpreted in the construction of the proposal, brick is applied in a dogtooth bonding at street level, creating a subtle visual datum and textural variation, which also refers to the decorative use of materials in Leithâ€™s civic buildings. A greater depth of material is explored in the gable elevations, which begins to express the rhythm of the concrete frame behind.
-Exploring a Civic Language-
Sergison Bates, Ethnographic Museum, Geneva The buildingâ€™s structure & floor levels are expressed on the elevation, creating an order referential of classical civic architecture.
1:100 Development Model. Side Elevations express the structural grid, but begin to refer more to industrial architecture in the density of repetition. Gable elevations allude to more civic character
Queen Charlotte Street
Typology - Synthesis Developing the projectâ€™s continued investigation into typology, a synthesis of industrial and civic types aimed to place the proposal both in dialogue with the industrial artefacts which define a sense of place, as well as within a wider cultural tradition of urban civic typologies. Interesting correlations between trabeated structures of industrial and civic origin were referenced to define a spatial character, order and hierarchy appropriate to the site conditions. Basilica - Pompeii
Industrial Mill - Scotland
Proposal - Diagrammatic Plan
Bibliotheque Sainte Genevieve, Paris
Palazzo Farnese, Rome & Kahnâ€™s Yale Centre for British Art
Detailing - Expressive Structural Language
Bibliotheque Sainte Genevieve - A civic monumentality is achieved with an adorned expressive structure.
Robert Maillart - Industrial concrete structures.
The structures of Swiss engineer Robert Maillart use a pragmatic structural approach to define an elegant expressive language. A subtle sectional variation is created through the diminishing mass of structural columns, defining an experiential quality of ascension.
Sectional Conditions Diminishing Structural Mass In response to the decreased structural loads, the columns become thinner as they rise, resulting in an experiential sectional variation. This effect of thinning culminates with the delicate concrete roof structure.
1:50 Model - Development of internal courtyard
Third Floor - Council Offices
-Thinness of StructureAs in the filigree structure of the Bibliotheque Sainte Genevieve, a thinness of structure at roof level creates a lightness in contrast to the weight of the masonry structure below. The use of concrete, a material more commonly associated with mass, to achieve this is intended to be the culmination of the diminishing width of structural columns, utilising the precision of contemporary pre-casting techniques. The form of the concrete fins is derived from the requirement of structural material, removing the majority of redundant structure, and leaving a light reflecting baffle as the structural tie.
Sverre Fehn - Nordic Pavilion
Part Construction Section
Internal Courtyard - Inhabitation of Space
Public events & ceremonies.
Council & Committee meetings
Community meetings & debates
First Floor - Civil Registry Offices
-Structural ExpressionIn reference to the tradition of expressive and decorative structures in both civic and historic industrial architecture, the process of off-site casting of the concrete frame is exploited to create a subtly expressive aesthetic. Precision pre-cast concrete form-work is now increasingly controllable, and can be utilised to achieve a refined quality, referential to the developments in metal structures which were utilised by 19th century architects and engineers. The fluted form of the precast members provide a highly efficient thermally active profile, utilised for radiating and absorbing heat. In so doing, the concrete form also minimizes structural material. Artificial Lighting Artificial lighting is integrated as bronze coated perforated diffusers, which throw light downwards, as well as back onto the ceiling, intensifying the structural form and rhythm in the evening.
Elevation Detail - Nottingham Contemporary, Caruso St John.
Detail of vaulted precast concrete planks
In-fill - Thinness of Material In contrast to the permanence of the concrete frame, in-fill sections are treated with a deliberate thinness. Materials are applied as such, using thin veneers with an almost painted quality. The â€œFumedâ€? oak used is put through a natural treatment process which results in oxidation, giving a rich dark quality. The thin veneers are mounted onto painted MDF panels, leaving a thin border to expose itâ€™s depth. The idea of elevating a simple or crude material is continued throughout the building, as with the thin brass coating on galvanized steel handrails & ironmongery. The finishes will display change with continued use, fading or rubbing away in places and eventually decaying. The concrete structure however, will remain robust and enduring.
-Structural Mass- Carved Space In contrast to the thin structure of the upper floor, the underground archive spaces use a language of mass and compression. The thermal efficiency of the vaulted form is again utilised for climatic stability to an increased degree, to create a stable condition for archival material. A precast concrete vaulted beam rests on brick piers. The concrete frame of the upper floors continues through the brickwork to meet the foundations. Air handling and services run from the raised ground floor and are distributed via the internal wall cavity.
Part Construction Section - Basement
Queen Charlotte Street Elevation
North East Elevation 1:500
Long Section 1:500
-Construction Detail & Finishes-
Fumed Oak clad window reveals. Treatment achieves a dark, rich quality. Bronze coated galvanized steel handrail. The bronze coating will thin over time, exposing a quality effected by use. Brick in-fill between concrete structure. Variation of tone referencing the stained sandstone condition of context.
Pale green pigmented precast polished concrete floor slabs. Diminishing in size on upper levels. Dark grey brick floor finish to ground level, forming a continuation of the cobbled street.
In-fill sections expressed as thinness of material. Fumed oak veneered are applied literally only millimeters thick, achieving an almost painted quality.
In-fill sections expressed as thinness of material. Fumed oak veneered are applied literally only millimeters thick, achieving an almost painted quality.
-Thermally Active Structure-
-Water Based Versus Air Based System-
The thermal mass of the concrete structure assists in providing a stable internal environment. Effective passive absorption and redistribution of heat is supplemented with a radiant water based system, heating or absorbing heat as required.
A radiant water based system provides a slower response, but far more stable climatic control system. The even distribution made possible through the active ceiling system results in increased efficiency. Less energy is also required to circulate the smaller volume of water needed for effective heat transfer.
Winter - Heating Mode
Summer - Cooling Mode Hot water circulated
Cold water circulated
Solar Heat Gains
Solar Heat Gains
Natural Cross Ventilation
-Robustness & LongevityThe construction of the thermally active structure is extremely durable, with the physical material of the integrated synthetic pipe-work having a greater expected lifespan than the concrete itself. The idea of permanence is relevant here, as the building has an inherent self perpetuating potential. The basic idea of a water based system is effectively low-tech. The mechanical systems needed to heat and circulate water can be replaced, allowing future energy technologies to be incorporated with the existing system.
-Passive Energy GenerationThe form of the roof structure creates an opportunity to utilise a passive energy source. PVT panels are an efficient means of utilising both electricity generation and solar thermal power. The solar thermal heat generation is used to assist the radiant heating system, while electricity generated will supplement standard consumption. PVT on upper section to avoid cast shadow
33deg - Optimum Angle
Repeated profile provides significant solar generation potential
Solar collectors on south facing slopes.
Hot water generated is used to heat active structure. The system is supplemented with a natural gas boiler
Closed circuit with heat exchanger
Archive - Reading spaces under external courtyard.
Cafe & Market - Public realm extended into the building at ground level.
Library, looking over main stairwell.
Top floor office space.
View from Queen Charlotte Street
-Integrated Rainwater StrategyDefensive detailing methods, traditionally used in Victorian brick architecture, are interpreted and used to complement the language of expressive details throughout the proposal. The down pipes are recessed into the centre of brick piers, and the channel is capped with a brass coated, galvanized steel inlay. The inlay is bolted back to the brick through brass ties. The detail is pragmatic in the Scottish climate, allowing access to the down pipe to carry out repairs, and avoiding damage to the fabric of the building should the system fail in any way. Contemporary tendencies towards an overly reductive approach to defensive detailing are challenged here. Instead, an integration is sought, intending to utilise proven & successful traditional details that compliment the architectural language.
Cope sloping back into gutter with flashing cap
Precast concrete coping
Gutter laid to falls
Down pipe recessed into brick peir
Brass inlay channel
Gutters laid to falls
Precast concrete coping
Concealed Hopper with copper overflow spout
Concrete facing section with cast in opening for overflow
Alternative Structural Developments Expressing Isostatic Loads The civic and industrial buildings of Italian architect and engineer Pier Luigi Nervi were investigated, as a means of alluding to a decorative civic structure derived from a pragmatic structural solution. The ribs of the concrete slabs express the isostatic load movements, and thus eliminate excess material from the areas it is least needed, resulting in a repetitive structural pattern.
Hypothetical Reflected ceiling Plan
Pier Luigi Nervi - Palace of Labour, Turin
Fire Strategy Two protected vertical stair cores are located within the buildings service zone. Both stairs discharge directly to the adjacent street and are accessible on all floor levels. Travel distances to the protected zones do not exceed 32m, as required under building regulations. The higher risk zone of the cafe is located at ground level, benefiting from a direct route of escape.
DDA Vertical circulation in lift cores is designed to provide access to the same spatial sequence as staircase users. Stairs and lifts discharge in the main circulation zone, always overlooking the large open spaces of the building. All banks of toilets accommodate a compliant accessible W.C. Narrow circulation routes are avoided and doorways are all wheelchair compliant.
Indicative 32m escape distances from point X.
-BibliographyAureli, Pier Vittorio, (2011). The Possibility of an Absolute Architecture. Cambridge, Mass. MIT Press. Caruso, Adam, (2008). The Feeling of Things. Barcelona, Ediciones Poligrafa. Berger, J. (1980). About Looking. London, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc McKean, John. (2004). Giancarlo De Carlo: Layered Places. London and Stuttgart. Axel Menges. Rossi, A. (1966) The Architecture of the City. (1st American Edition, Preface by Eisenman, P. , 1982) Cambridge, Mass. MIT Press. Benjamin, W. (1999) The Arcades Project. 2nd ed. Harvard University Press McDonough, T. (1997) Guy Debord &the Situationist International. Cambridge, Mass. MIT Press. Ursprung, P. (ed) (2008) Caruso St John: Almost Everything, Barcelona, Ediciones Poligrafa S.A. Segison Bates Architects, (ed) (2007) Brickwork: Thinking & Making, Zurich, gta Verlag Moe, K. (2010) Thermally Active Surfaces in Architecture, New York, Princeton Architectural Press N, Tohio. (ed) (1975) Architecture & Urbanism, Louis I Kahn, Tokyo, A+U Publishing Co. Alberto, F,. 2001,. Dom Hans Van Der Laan: Works and Words, Amsterdam: Architectura and Natura Press Deplazes, A. (2005),. Constructing Architecture Materials Processes Structures Handbook,. Basel: Birkhauser Fernandez, A (ed) (2005) Caruso St John Architects: As Built (Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain: a+t ediciones
Precedent Study - Louis Kahn- Exeter University Library Structure and Material
Serve and Served
The Exeter library utilizes two structural systems: a reinforced concrete primary structure, and a load bearing brick perimeter structure, which functions almost independently. The integration of the two systems both defines a coherent structural logic, and articulates spaces of varied scale and character. The exposed internal brickwork is offset with timber insertions which correspond to spaces of human interaction.
Four service cores positioned at the corners of the inner structural ring also function as circulation routes and converge with the outer structural â€œringâ€? at the buildings corners. These are positioned hierarchically, allowing the central and periphery spaces to be served.
Hierarchy Kahn uses the strong structural logic of the building to define a variety of spatial conditions. A clear hierarchy is established through the axial symmetry of the square plan, with a concentric organization of spaces and structure which define a rich spatial variety. The positioning of intimate, more private spaces against the elevation, and the large public atrium in the centre of the plan creates an experience of expansion and contraction. Book stacks are located in the space between; visually accessible from both locations. The regularity of the elevation is reinforced internally by individual timber built reading carrels, which are inhabited almost as pieces of furniture. Spaces for groups are loosely defined enclosures in places, occurring between structural columns and bookshelving.
Second Floor Plan
Hierarchy & Structure - Plan Diagram
APPENDIX Supporting Projects
Design Research Unit The City of Collective Memory As discussed elsewhere within this document, a parallel design research project was used to inform the design methodology. Taking the opportunity to further investigate some of the interests which arose from a study of Leith, the project aimed to explore the meaning of “collective memory” in the city, taking Aldo Rossi’s text “The Architecture of the City” as a point of departure. The essay
Collage investigating the permanence of the historic walls, recorded by the urban grain.
and accompanying work through making explored this at a range of scales, from permanence within the urban grain, to individual artefacts and fragments of the city which bear a physical record of its history.
“The Lamb’s House” - Drawings & Historic image of 17th century merchants house, Leith.
Between Thinking & Making An introductory project, undertaken as part of a group of three students, stipulated a tight set of design constraints,. The volume and structural grid was predetermined, leaving the use, structural system and internal organisation to be interpreted. The programme of an office building was opted for, using cross laminated timber panels to define a n architectural language through the standard dimensions of planar elements. Spatially, the grid of square bays was used to create a pinwheel arrangement. Flexible office spaces occupied the space adjacent to natural light, while the primary vertical circulation was located centrally, used to bring light into the depth of the plan through a glazed light-well.
First Floor Plan
Plywood Model 1:50
Humanities -Mapping BerlinThresholds In the heart of Berlin, Museum Island forms an enclave of cultural activity. Separated from the city literally, wrapped in between two branches of the river spree, circulation routes (trains, cars, cyclists, pedestrians) dissect the archipelago of museums. The river itself forms the first threshold; crossing one of the many bridges from the city, to what is essentially a museum in itself. Bodestrasse cuts across the narrow northern tip of the island, running perpendicular to the Neues Museum. The adjacent courtyard is enclosed by a double colonnade extending from the museum, wrapping an ensemble of formal gardens and hard landscaped spaces, and returning parallel to the river. The centre piece is the â€œAlteâ€? or Old National Gallery, fronted by a grandiose twin stone staircase. Mediating between the courtyard and the street, the double colonnade forms a continuous permeable threshold, filtering pedestrians into the inner plaza. While a single row of columns would suffice to dictate the perimeter of the space, the twin rows form a porous wall, a transition between out/in, accentuated by the step up, and then back down to the piazza. A sense of separation from the city beyond is created: an external room. Utilising the same device, the Neues museum is entered by again crossing the threshold of the colonnade and through the central doorway, before moving through the buildings sequence of rooms, and internal courtyards.
Courtyard at the Neuese & Alte Museums, Museum Island, Berlin.
Document supporting my honours year design project, undertaken in 4th year at Dundee School of Architecture.