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ARCHITECTURAL PALIMPSEST Rethinking the Architecture School

Juan Manuel Gatica Garicoits


Master Thesis Project - Spring 2017 Rethinking the Architecture School Advisor: Prof. Henry Rueda Critics: Nikolay Nedev (FIU), Glenda Puente (FIU), Kristian Ceballos Ugarte (FAU UCV-Invited),Franco Micucci (FAU UCV-Invited) Florida International University Date: April 21, 2017 Author: Juan Manuel Gatica Garicoits Š All Right Reserved - Drawings, sketches, collages made in this book are made by the author, unless otherwise indicated 4


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I would like to begin by thanking my family for their relentless moral support throughout my academic career. I would also like to thank my friends in Uruguay for their encouragements, words of wisdom and for keeping me going through this career from the distance. A special thank you to my thesis advisor, Henry Rueda, for his commitment and dedication since our first meeting in seminar onward. Finally, I would like to thank my friends, classmates, and professors at FIU, for their challenging critiques and helpful suggestions; I wish all of you the very best in your future endeavours.

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DEDICATION For my grandparents Abis and Tere

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CONTENTS

1 _ INTRO 2 _ SEMINAR RESEARCH

RESEARCH / ANALYSIS

3 _ FAU UCV 4 _ WHAT IF? 5 _ PALIMPSEST

CONCEPT / STRATEGIES

6 _ DESIGN OPERATIONS 7 _ SPATIAL DISTRIBUTION

DESIGN INTERVENTION

8 _ FINAL INTERVENTION

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CARAMELO HALL - FAU USP - 1969 Cred: Somewhere in Google

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1 _ INTRO

Architecture as a discipline is in constant change. In recent years, the digitalization of the discipline opened new paradigms in the design field. Together with the advancement of design tools and software development, new technologies in fabrication and construction processes enbabled fast transformations in the industry. Architectural education has also transformed its core curriculum to incorporate new methodologies, systems, educators, topics and materials. The influence is expansive toward whole communities, creating new cities, and improving the lives of others. Architecture schools are also engaged in new modalities of social responsibility initiatives. But how do the existing Architecture School as a building-structure adapts to the new ways of thinking, working, learning and researching?

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FADU URUGUAY - BV. ARTIGAS PERSPECTIVE Cred: FADU-UDELAR Media Library

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2 _ SEMINAR RESEARCH

The Seminar research consisted on a scenario for the study of different Architecture Schools around the world in order to formulate a cohesive Thesis Argument for the Thesis project, by formulating a Problem and Methodology in the design process. Research started with a thorough mapping exercise of possible sites, visiting archives and reading each case as a Lab. The research includes different analysis such as typologies, cities and buildings, using case studies and precedents through a variety of representational media and architectural conventions. The studio worked on Historical and Building analysis. Education was also a topic during the seminar, revising and studying different positions of Architects such as Mies van der Rohe, Vilanova Artigas, Frank Lloyd Wright, Carlos Raul Villanueva, Bernard Tschumi and others.

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Facultad de Arquitectura Diseño y Urbanismo - Universidad de la República (FADU-UDELAR) Location: Montevideo, Uruguay Architect: Román Fresnedo Siri Date: 1947

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BUILDING AXONOMETRIC

OPEN COURTYARDS

CIRCULATION THORUGH OPEN AND CLOSED GALLERIES AROUND THE COURTYARDS

STUDIOS FACING THE STREET MAXIMIZING DAYLIGHTING

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PATIO CARRE Cred: Marcos Guiponi

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ESTANQUE Cred: Somewhere in Google

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NORTH FACADE PERSPECTIVE Cred: Carlos Raul Villanueva: un moderno en Sudamerica

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3 _ FAU UCV

The Facultad de Arquitectura y Urbanismo of the Universidad Central de Venezuela (FAU UCV) was the building chosen for the study and development of the Final Thesis Project. Covering an area of approximateley 50,000 sq. meters, this building, fundamental in Carlos Raul Villanueva’s work, was conceived under a very personal principle that readopted the academic theories from the Bauhaus school. Six clearly defined working areas -composition, construction, painting and sculpture, urban planning, and theory- are assembled around the nine-story central tower which is visible from any point of the Ciudad Universitaria thanks to its form, color, and tridimensional treatment. The 9-story tower, erceted on an articulated concrete frame, is a clear Corbusian reference. The treatment of the facades of the tower is very unique. The North facade opens to the mountain with a rythmic brisesoleil to mitigate sun exposure. The South facade is mostly composed by fixed concrete sunshades that provide protection from the intense tropical light. The West and east facades are completely closed. On these two immense, 9-story high, monolithic walls, two Alejandro Otero murals are supported. The geometric play of blue in the pieces dematerialize the weight of the architectural body. The first floor acts as a covered public plaza of multiple purposes, implied by different changes in scale and levels. These various elements articulate the modern discourse of spatial fluidity, moving from one situation to the next without abrupt changes. The brutalism and crudeness of this building was conceived by Villanueva as an exercise proper to this type of architecture at the time.* * Carlos Raúl Villanueva: un moderno en Sudamérica - Fundación Galería de Arte Nacional, Venezuela,1999 17


Facultad de Arquitectura y Urbanismo - Universidad Central de Venezuela (FAU-UCV) Location: Caracas, Venezuela Architect: Carlos Raul Villanueva Date: 1957

Axonometric on Site 18


First Floor Plan

Typ. Tower Plan 19


North Elevation

South Elevation 20


Transversal Section 21


FIRST FLOOR PROGRAM

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ADMIN. OFFICES

DESIGN/CONSTRUCTION STUDIOS

LIBRARY+EXHIBITION SPACE

CAFETERIA


TOWER PROGRAM

FACULTY+ADMIN. OFFICES

DESIGN STUDIOS - UNITS

HORIZONTAL CIRCULATION

VERTICAL CIRCULATION+EGRESS

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SOUTH FACADE Cred: Julio Cesar Mesa

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NORTH FACADE Cred: Julio Cesar Mesa

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INTERIOR COURTYARD - FIRST FLOOR Cred: Julio Cesar Mesa

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EXHIBITION SPACE + LIBRARY - FIRST FLOOR Cred: Julio Cesar Mesa

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MAIN CIRCULATION - TOWER Cred: Somewhere in Google

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MAIN CIRCULATION - TOWER Cred: Somewhere in Google

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CARLOS RAUL VILLANUEVA - AULA MAGNA FAU UCV Cred: Somewhere in Google

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“Creo en una arquitectura que parta de la realidad, que elabore una interpretación crítica de ella y que vuelva a la realidad, modificándola, con dialéctica incesante”

“I believe in an architecture that starts from reality, that elaborates a critical interpretation of it and returns to reality modifying it, with incessant dialectic” Carlos Raúl Villanueva

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CONCEPT COLLAGE

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4 _ WHAT IF?

After all the research and study of the FAU UCV building, the first question I asked myself was regarding the disconnection between the first floor, which functions as a fluid open plaza vs. the tower that acts as an interrupted collection of vertical spaces connected via long corridors and straight staircases.

WHAT IF THE TOWER BECOMES THE BRAIN OF THE UNIVERSITY ? WHAT IF THE TOWER SIMULATES THE CIRCULATION FLUIDITY OF THE FIRST FLOOR ?

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THINKING PROCESS RELEVANT PRECEDENT STUDIES: Swiss-Re Offices - Christian Kerez Jussieu Library - OMA

Cred. Somewhere in Google

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CONCEPT SKETCHES

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Cred. Steve Kuenstler - Flickr

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5 _ PALIMPSEST

Pal-imp-sest: “A manuscript or piece of writing material on which later writing has been superimposed on effaced earlier writing.” (1) “Something reused or altered but still bearing visible traces of its earlier form.” (1) (1)

Oxford Dictionary

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ARCHITECTURAL PALIMPSEST Essay - Juan Manuel Gatica

A palimpsest can be viewed in two ways, first like an object that makes place for reuse; and secondly as an object that represents a medium for meaning and understanding of the past layers. Architecturally speaking, reusing a building consists in repurposing it by accommodating new functions or programs; and using it as an object that represents a medium for meaning implies using the building architectural qualities as a precedent and vehicle for a new intervention.

But how does this new program or functions adapt to a new architecture that takes into consideration human behavior and human relationships? When reading architecture as a Palimpsest, it can be read to have three different meanings: the previous meaning, the new meaning, and a mixed interpretation when reading both the old and the new. As past layers are discovered in different moments, the new work becomes an overlay of the old, creating a new hybrid structure where the old and the new are intersected and can be read as a different structure, but keeping the inherent qualities of the old. How to preserve the architectural qualities of a building without disrupting it, is a challenge that architects have been facing in the recent past. Two different theories were discussed during the 19th and 20th century: the conjunctive theory, by Eugene Viollet-le-Duc in the Victorian period; and, the modernist theory of disjunction well described by Bernard Tschumi in his book Architecture and Disjunction (Hewitt, 1994). Viollet-Le-Duc assumes that the building will be restored to “a condition of completeness”, while Tschumi argues an absolute contrast between old and new architecture. Contrary to these theories, Mark Alan Hewitt, a professor at the New Jersey Institute of Technology proposes a Theory of the Intermediary, where he argues that architectural interventions are new elements that must be fitted into a bigger preexisting condition, were one can’t ignore what was already there, this being impalpable elements such as history, and palpable elements such as the existing structure. In the article “Architecture for a Contingent Environment”, Hewitt argues that both traditionalist and modernist theories are problematic because they read the historical artifact as an isolated object, unrelated to the context. To avoid this isolation and work with both the existing and new, the designer could avoid “framing the design problem or building task as an addition to a completed building, a restoration of a damaged artefact, or a 40


neutral consolidation of materials,” and “the boundary in which the designer operates could be enlarged to include an extended landscape or cityscape” (Hewitt, 1994, p.200)1 To develop an Architectural Intervention to a historic building based on the theory of Intermediary that Hewitt proposes, entails a thorough research of the preexisting conditions, from the large urban scale to the small artistic details. This strategy is based on the idea that architectural interventions are not additions or restorations to a completed building; instead, there are in-between acts. UNIVERSIDAD CENTRAL DE VENEZUELA – FACULTAD DE ARQUITECTURA

Function vs. Space Modernism was the status quo at the time Carlos R. Villanueva built the Universidad Central de Venezuela in the period ranging from 1944-1970. The Campus of the UCV is considered as a Masterpiece of Modernism, named UNESCO World Heritage Building. It was built under the concept that the architect Raul Villanueva called “integration of the arts”. The building of the College of Architecture and Urbanism is a clear example of this concept, integrating art pieces into the architecture by collaborating with renowned artists and architects. But the focus on aesthetics and functionalism clearly clouded the spatial qualities of the building. The social aspect of buildings was not a primary concern in modernist architecture, where buildings were built as “machines” as Le Corbusier states in “Towards a New Architecture”. This very functional building ended being a very meticulous accumulation of programmatic spaces, making the building function as individual spaces interrupted by corridors and staircases which are in most cases residual spaces.

Interruption vs. Fluidity The FAU-UCV building spatial distribution strategy is clearly separated into two different entities: the first floor, and the tower. The first floor consists on a very “fluid” space that acts as an open plaza nicely articulated by patios and openings, creating spaces with unique qualities which allow for people to congregate and interact in a very natural way. The connection of the first floor with the immediate surroundings of the campus is also very fluid and seamless. On the other hand, the design of the tower is completely different. It consists of a very rational and functional layout where two stair cores are connected by long corridors to 1

Hewitt, M. A. (1994). Architecture for a Contigent Environment. Journal of Architectural Education, 47, 197-209. 41


which classrooms and offices attach. The connection between the tower and the first floor is done by these two cores, being rendered inexistent in terms of physical and visual connectivity. The disconnection between them gives the sensation of two completely different and unrelated entities. The main design decision for this intervention was to carve out the volumes (first floor and tower), creating a void which connects the two entities, so movement, flow, and interaction between them are achieved.

What is that flows? The interpretation of fluidity that is applied in this project is not that related to liquid matter or container of fluids. Firstly, the intervention intends to create a seamless connection between the container and the contained. The main factor that has to be taken into consideration is how the people behave and interact with one another and the space, in order to create an effortless and seamless experience in the relation between program, people and ultimately the context of the campus. To achieve this, it is important to put the user first and design from their behavior and needs. Instead of accumulation and aggregation of spaces, the strategy is more intuitive, by identifying spatial and social “forces” present in the existing building. After identifying these problems, the intervention intends to create a spatial distribution that would respond to the desired “fluidity” and connections.

Conclusion These layers of existing and desired conditions led the design to be treated as an adaptive reuse project. Ultimately, the design is not an isolated act to add to a completed building or repair a damaged part. Alvaro Siza said that “Architects invent nothing; they redefine the value of a form by virtue of its relationship to other elements in a composition”. There are incredible amounts of layers of inspiration embedded within an existing site and building that can enrich architectural creations. It’s in every designer talent not to destroy the existing qualities and start from scratch, but to take them as inspiration and build on those same concepts; complementing but challenging the existing at the same time. Ultimately a greater meaning will be created, allowing for a greater engagement with the historic work. Due to the significance of this building, being the “Magnum Opus” of Carlos Raul Villanueva and a UNESCO World Heritage Building, such an intervention needs to be appropriate, valid, and innovative. The building is treated as an architectural piece from which by subtracting and redistributing the program but keeping the inherent qualities of it, all the different design ideas are tied by that one single concept, the Architectural Palimpsest. 42


Bibliography Hewitt, M. A. (1994). Architecture for a Contigent Environment. Journal of Architectural Education, 47, 197-209. Last, N. (2014). Architecture and the Image of Fluidity. University of Virginia. ACSA. Lynn, G., & Carpo, M. (2004). Folding in Architecture. Academy Press. Picon, A. (2010). Continuity, complexity and emergence: what is real for digital designers? Perspecta, 147157.

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By studying the existing elements in the building (Alejandro Otero’s artwork) I used the essence of the artist work as the source of inspiration for the new architectural intervention to achieve Cohesion and Continuity with the existing building Concept-Structure.

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ARTWORK - Alejandro Otero

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1 _ MURAL EXTRACTION

2 _ MURAL PROJECTION OVER NORTH & SOUTH FACADES

3 _ POSITIVE/NEGATIVE FLOW SKETCH

4 _ FLOW PROJECTION OVER TOWER 46

5 _ NEW SPATIAL DISTRIBUTION


6 _ DESIGN OPERATIONS

The design operation for the new design of the tower emerges form the prior study of Alejandro Otero murals located at the East and West facades of the tower. After studying the murals, it is found that if enlarged proportionally to the dimensions of the North and South facades of the tower, they fit perfectly. One interesting study of positive and negative extracted from Otero’s mural emerges after the study of it. It gives a suggestion of possible space distribution and flow that is later utilized to solve the redistribution of the tower. From these studies the investigation process flowed in a very intuitive way ending up in the new spatial distribution shown in the diagrams of the prior page.

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NEW SPATIAL DISTRIBUTION

ADMIN/FACULTY OFFICES

INSTITUTES + LABS + CIRCULATION

RESEARCH + LABS + CIRCULATION

LIBRARY + CIRCULATION

CAFETERIA + LOBBY + CIRCULATION


7 _ FINAL DISTRIBUTION

From the new design operation ending in a new spatial distribution, the reprogramming of the tower happens, with the concept of the tower being the brain of the university. The Library that was located under the Exhibition gallery space in the first floor was moved to the central space of the new tower, being a space where people will meet to have informal conversations, research and investigate on past topics and new issues, work in personal projects, homework, etc. All the new spaces are influenced by the new circulation that is going to be proposed, generating a continuous architectural element that will seamlessly connect all the spaces of the tower and the first floor.

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When reading architecture as a Palimpsest, it can be interpreted to have three different meanings: the prior meaning, the new meaning, and a hybrid interpretation when reading the remnants with the new. As past leftovers appear partially through the new, the new work becomes an overlay of the old, making a simultaneous reading of both the old and new.

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By spatial subtraction and redistribution, the new circulation is inserted to articulate the new spaces, also generating a central “void� which acts as the main atrium

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The new intervention enabled the tower to become a single entity where all the new spaces are connected directly and continuously within themselves and the first floor (design studios, fabrication lab, exhibition gallery, cafeteria and patio)

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NEW CAFETERIA/LOBBY LOOKING TO PATIO AND NEW FAB LAB Rendering

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NEW FAB LAB LOOKING TO PATIO AND CAFETERIA Rendering

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NEW CIRCULATION - THIRD FLOOR Rendering

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NEW CIRCULATION - FOURTHFLOOR Rendering

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NEW CIRCULATION/INFORMAL OFFICES - FIFTH FLOOR Rendering

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NEW LIBRARY/READING ROOM - FIFTHTHFLOOR Rendering

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VIEW FROM FIRST FLOOR COURTYARD Rendering

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VIEW FROM FIRST FLOOR COURTYARD Rendering

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“Architecture lives to be transformed and therein lies its true calling� Eduardo Souto de Moura

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VIEW FROM EIGHT FLOOR DOUBLE-HEIGHT TERRACE TO THE MOUNTAIN Rendering

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Profile for Juan Manuel Gatica

Architectural Palimpsest - Rethinking the Architecture School  

Master Thesis Project at Florida International University Thesis Project intended to Rethink the Architecture school from a personal interpr...

Architectural Palimpsest - Rethinking the Architecture School  

Master Thesis Project at Florida International University Thesis Project intended to Rethink the Architecture school from a personal interpr...

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