GABRIELLE ARGENT arc hitec ture + des i gn po rtf o l i o
Mobility, Voice and View: Unpacking the Future of Cape Town’s District Six
Wupperthal Architectural Survey + Community Fire Safety Strategy
Hotel Anon: The Architecture of Protest
9 - 12
13 - 16
17 - 20
21 - 22
23 - 24
25 - 26
[Bee]tween Life and Death: Re-imagining Social Housing in Barcelona’s El Poblenou
My[cro] 2020 Home
Steamscape: Iceland Cave Tower
0 1 Mo bi li ty, Vo i ce and View: U npacking th e F u tur e o f Cape Town’s Distr ict Six MArch Thesis | Cape Town, South Africa | Advisors: Jerry Hacker, Jill Stoner Who are we designing architecture for? Both intentionally and inadvertently, architecture has often marginalized the experiences of black and colored people in the built environment. An overt example of architectural practice used in this way is District Six, a neighborhood in Cape Town in which over 60, 000 black and coloured individuals were physically and socially erased during apartheid. Not only were their homes demolished, residents were forced to live in undesirable townships outside the city center. Infrastructures and land uses developed during apartheid -such as railways, highways and vacant buffer zones- continue to marginalize past residents and subsequent generations, limiting access to essential services. This dislocation erased not only houses and communities, but three of their fundamental human agencies: mobility, voice and view. This thesis project therefore uses agency as a fundamental premise to posit new understandings about how and who we are designing architecture for. It does so by reconceptualizing the infrastructure of the train under the 1
following lens: the train as a spatial connector and claim to the city (mobility); train stations as township cultural centers (voice) and the train car as a mobile vessel and low rent facility for offices and public services (view). These agencies are unified through an evolving tapestry generated by messages from the residents. Giant sewing needles occupy the landscape, surrogate weavers that translate these messages into a canopy of colourful, woven threads. Traversing space above the ground, the canopy is not limited to the boundaries which determine land ownership shaped by the apartheid regime. While the existing infrastructure has worked to control, divide and imprison people in their townships, the train’s ecosystem establishes a new layer of interpretation of the landscape. It is both counterpoint and antidote to the repressive conditions of the ground, simultaeously positing new narratives of connection, empowerment and agency.
02 Co mm unity Fabr ic
Graduate Studio I | Ottawa, ON | Instructors: Sheryl Boyle, Jerry Hacker Ottawa’s Mechanicsville neighborhood -an area with a rich industrial history and several residential areas- has recently become a site of contention with the introduction of a new community design plan for condo tower construction. This construction and densification, which focuses primarily on residential use, threatens to divide the exisiting urban environment, creating a community without a unified identity and sustainable design strategy. The 1908 Stairworks Factory serves as the site for Community Fabric, an adaptive reuse project that attempts to rethink the way people live in the city. By radically collapsing the zoning of all functions on site, an interconnected architecture is achieved, creating a well-integrated synthesis of diverse functional programs that are informed by passive design strategies. The main concept of Community Fabric is inspired by the idea of weaving, a process that takes place within the plastic upcycling factory when transforming plastic bottles into polyester fabric. To achieve this concept, 5
atria are used which cut through various intersecting program across the site. These cuts create openings which allow for visual access by users vertically through the buildings. A similar strategy is used horizontally with the projection of windows across the site, allowing people access to other spaces, people and the wider community. Within these connective spaces, numerous passive design strategies -such as greywater collection- are employed that educate the users of the site on how the building functions, as well as to improve the experiential quality of the architecture. Because the Ottawa climate has significant changes in temperature between the warmer and cooler months of the year, the architecture has been designed to ensure that all spaces of the site will be active 365 days a year. Community Fabric is more than a well-integrated sythesis of diverse programs, functions and sustainable strategies; it is an architecture that speaks to a larger set of values about connecting people to each other, their community and the environment.
Grade Level Plan
Somerset Level Plan
Green Roof Level Plan
Triple pane glazing
Wall Envelope Section 8
0 3 Wupper thal Ar c hite c tur al S ur vey + Co mmuni ty F ir e S afe ty S trateg y
Graduate Studio II | Wupperthal, South Africa | Instructors: School of Explorative Architecture (SEA) In December 2018, the remote community of Wupperthal in Western Cape, South Africa experienced a devastating fire that destroyed over 50 homes and displaced over 200 residents. The fire was fueled by extreme drought which quickly spread through the thatched roofs of the 19th century Cape Tradition buildings in the town. Public and private funding has been secured to rebuild the historic werf buildings in Wupperthal, yet many residents were still displaced and lacked funding to rebuild their homes as they were uninsured prior to the fire. To contribute towards rebuilding, I had the opportunity to volunteer as part of a team of 11 students who completed a measured architectural and photographic survey of the fire-damaged homes. The project was conducted over a four week period, during which we visited Wupperthal 9
twice. In early March 2019, we spent two days photographing and surveying the affected houses. During the following weeks we worked to digitize the recorded information in the form of scaled plans and exterior elevations. Later in March 2019, we visited Wupperthal a second time to present our preliminary drawings to the community, speak with the affected residents of the homes to correct any mistakes and collect any missing information on the surveys. Our survey drawings were given to the community in Wupperthal, Heritage Western Cape and The Cape Institute for Architecture to aid these entities in their respective roles in the rebuilding of Wupperthal.
House CAD Drawings
Community Interviews 10
During this time, I was solely responsible for creating an urban fire prevention proposal for the community of Wupperthal. The closeness of the houses, the thatched roofs and the irregular routes throught the different levels of the neighborhood - though part of the hazards that added to the level of communty devastation - now presented an opportunity to turn these spaces into a more regularized system for safe evacuation in the case of another firerelated event. Not only did this include a more regularized surface with wider evacuation laneways, there were also fire strategies proposed which would designate certain residents as fire marshalls, as well as the installation of fire hydrants and the implementation of designated safety points. The routes serve not only as a safety measure for rare occasions of fire-related events, but act as a community amenity in which residents can engage with one another, participate in recreational activities and come together to share community history. The design of the new laneways works with the local vernacular, implementing local materials and building strategies so that the residents have the power and ability to upkeep and develop the laneways according to their specific community needs.
Ecape Route 3 Section
Ecape Route 3 Plan 12 12
0 4 H o tel A no n: T he Ar c hitec tur e of P r ote st Graduate Studio II | Oakland, California | Instructor: Mario Gooden
On January 1 2009, Oscar Grant, a young African-American man and resident of Oakland, California was shot and killed on the platform of Fruitvale BART Station. This horrific incident serves as the prompt in which to examine architecture and its relation to racial, social and political issues and questions regarding rights to public space, social agency and liberation. Using data spatialization, this project began by mapping cases of police brutality in the Oakland area. The data spatialization was re-imagined as an urban fabric, placed in the sky above the exisiting city. In contrast to this data set, I also examined cases of protest in the landscape, and mapped them in relation to the fabric. These spaces of protest tear apart and making holes in the fabric, alluding to the power of protest and individual agency as factors which affect and change how we understand and read the urban environment. This fundamental research basis was then used to create a proposal for an anonymous hotel for protesters. The architecture itself is composed of 13
the sky fabric, the points of protest and the individual, densly packed hotel suites which attach themselves to the protest points. The entire structure sits along the existing BART Line, acting as a new station. As the train passes through, it is encounterd with this dense landscape of protest. People are able to occupy the hotel suites themselves or travel along the new alterior fabric in the sky. The fabric and suites act as points of agency and a counter to the repressive conditons of the existing landscape. Instead, architecture acts as an agent to give people opportunity to speak, share and protest, visualizing their lived reality in the urban environment. The project speaks not only to current issues with racial injustice and agency, but proposes ideas for how architecture and space can be key players in promoting a environment that is liberating and gives power to the experiences of many types of people.
Hotel Level 14
05 [ Be e]tween Li fe and De ath: Re-im a gi n in g S oc i a l Ho usi ng i n Barc e lona’s El Poblen o u MArch I Studio I | Barcelona, Spain | Instructors: Paul Kariouk, Zachary Colbert
This project seeks to consolidate the three programs of social housing, urban bee-keeping and a columbarium in the neighborhood of El Poblenou in Barcelona. These three programs are unified through the theme of death as an equalizing force. Represented through an interconnective columbarium walkway, people, other living things, architecture, space and the ephemeral are always connected and always in communication with death. Social housing is raised above the ground on pilotis and covered in various plant species, a symbol of a interconnected space made up of humans, plants and other life forms which work together to create a beautiful, living and breathing body. Attached below the social housing is 17
the columbarium walkway, an architectural gesture which connects spaces across the site. On the underside of the columbarium walkway, organic beehives attach themselves. Because of these design choices, people, plants and the bees are always in constant communication with death, whether it be human movement through the columbarium, circulation through the housing or time spent in the green spaces. Bees also move to and from their hives attached to the underside of the columbarium to different spaces on the site. In this sense, all those living are always constantly moving between the realms of life and death.
06 My[cro ] 2 0 2 0 Hom e
Bee Breeders MICROHOME 2020 | Ottawa, ON | Partner: Jerry Hacker Under the guise of climate change, affordability, and social engagement, current approaches involving land use zoning and density are becoming inadequate in terms of building a resilient framework for the future. Furthermore, the suburban framework of housing contributes to a public realm increasingly focused on the individual replete with largely private, internally focused experiences. My[cro] 2020 Home investigates what opportunities might abound in existing suburban neighbourhoods to help communities build resiliency from impending social isolation, and for cities to evolve and adapt in the name of climate change and environmental resiliency. By taking back the street, a change in the (sub) urban scale is made possible - through strategic siting the new homes are positioned in careful dialogue with the existing homes to create a series of three new streets that are pedestrian focused in scale, provide a number of integrated community amenities, and foster opportunity for a more vibrant and active community experience. 21
To this end, the concept for the Microhome itself is based on the following ideas: A 600mm infrastructural bar, capable of accommodating household functions. This planning relationship optimizes the ways in which the space can be appropriated over time, while providing a variety of spatial conditions within the restrained footprint. Second, an exterior infrastructural bar thereby allowing the homes to extend to the exterior and create a series of interconnected public spaces with varying degrees of public and private interface - the exterior bar also serves a host of infrastructural functions for the community, including water collection, playground space, vertical gardening and sports and recreation. Lastly, a compact architecture that remains highly porous and fosters connectivity and social interaction, and yet offers privacy when and where required.Taken together, the project augments the existing built fabric to build a more resilient future that is fundamentally based in community.
0 7 Steamscap e : Ice land Cave Tower
Bee Breeders Iceland Cave Tower | Grjótagjá, Iceland | Partners: Justin Lewis, David Woodruff Steamscape draws inspiration from the ephemeral and atmospheric qualities of the fissure that created the Grjótagjá cave system. Spanning the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates, the site offers a glimpse into the relationship between the earth’s geological and hydrological processes. The most immediate and magnificent of these to be observed at Grjótagja is the steam rising from the thermal pools of the caves, whispering from the fissure’s mouth and beckoning visitors to descend into the waters below. The formal and spatial qualities of the steam which is intrinsic to the site provided the conceptual departure for this project. Rather than making a singular, monumental tower that would draw attention to itself, this proposal creates an elevated pathway which drifts across the mouth of the fissure, rising and falling like the steam often observed at Grjótagjá. The pathway is wrapped in a system of screens which directs the views of visitors outwards into the surrounding landscape and into the caverns below. Both the screen and the pathway’s walking surface are 23
constructed of steel mesh, a material link between the architecture of the proposal and the atmosphere of the site, creating an illusion of being lifted above the landscape within a cloud of steam. On the ground the pathway is minimal, with loose gravel blending into the surrounding landscape of volcanic rock, broken only by signposts denoting the entrances to the caves - two for Karlagjá, and one for Kvennagjá. The main building greets the visitors with an enclosed cafe and office space to refresh during their journey to the site. After the cafe, the building diffuses into the ‘steam’ of the pathway system, breaking down into information booths detailing key information about the site’s histories, legends, and geologies, before releasing the visitors into the atmosphere above the fissure.
Interior view of Igualada Cemetery
Calgary, Alberta Calgary Central Public Library
Walking along Springweg Street
Ottawa, Ontario Sir John A. MacDonald Building
08 Self- Dir ec te d P hotog raphy Self-Directed Images
Diepkloof, South Africa
Sitting below the rock shelter
Ottawa, Ontario Bank Street bridge at night time
Cape Town, South Africa
Cape Town, South Africa
The Rhodes Memorial
Young man sleeps in the Company’s Gardens 26
GABRIELLE ARGENT arc hitec ture + des i gn po rtf o l i o