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Groundbreakers Architecture Competition

{HATCH

}

2011

“Forms reach completion. Matter, never. Matter is the rough sketch for unrestricted dreams.” -Gaston Bachelard The matter of the world we build in, the matter of architecture, our own physical existence, consist of living bodies who change and affect one another in a constant balancing act which drifts in and out of the timescale of human perception. Action and movement are inherently present inside and outside bodies and they manifest within multiple scales of time. Architectural space is shaped not only by physical tangible form, but also by the ephemeral nuances of its existence through time. Human inhabitation, sunlight and weather, the changing states of atmospheric “nothingness”, are undermined materials which shape space within fleeting and momentary time scales. Over time, the seemingly insignificant actions of their presence accumulate into physical traces. To “design for action” is interpreted as an understanding that at different scales of time, action is present not only in the act of making, not only in the human interactions it sustains, but is also inherent in the matter with which we shape space. To “design for action” means to design with sensitivity to the immaterial and to the potential energy embedded in matter through time. The action of making architecture is thus not a complete act of formmaking, but a dance of continuous becoming in which the movement of material reality and the changing nature of its context are deeply consequential. For architecture to endure, it does not necessarily imply that its form is immutable through time. An architecture which persists is an architecture which adapts to change, an architecture which responds to the movement within itself and within the social, physical, climactic and political context in which it exists. The following architectural explorations seek to expand the range of timescales of action within which architecture and the experience of architecture exist. It wishes to broaden the meaning of “materiality” by revealing the richness of accumulated “nothingness” and to re-discover wonder in the banal. The act of space-making is thus not a complete act, but it exists in a dialectic process which engages the action of time as a material onto itself.


The following investigations stem from a desire to reveal the entropic reality which affects the body of architecture, its site, and its inhabitation. It seeks to understand architecture as an active participant in a dialogue that is informed by forces that precede and follow architectural manifestation. If architecture can be seen not as a final condition but as a living organism of varying time scales, then its dynamic nature can become an opportunity for a richer architectural experience. The architectural act begins with an understanding of the entropic qualities of the site itself. The site is located along Will Rogers Beach in Los Angeles, in a place where the sea, a stone pier, and a stormdrain outlet physically manifest a contextual situation of overlapping time scales. Anchored on the imperceptibly changing stone pier, the site exists in the fluctuating interference of the predictable twenty-six hour tidal changes and the unpredictable flow of storm water. The periodic and gentler forces of the tides, cause subtle shifts in the undulations of the beach. As water changes state from gas to liquid in the form of rain, it falls on the hill beyond from where it is collected and spilled onto the beach. This river of residual water liquefies the solid body of sand. As sand becomes liquid it is carried onto the seafloor, revealing the beach’s boney stones and leaving fragile sand shelves behind. A registering instrument for engaging the changing body of the site is grown out of knowledge gained after each visit. It begins with negotiating the moment of touch between the irregular and more static terrain of the stone pier. It then explores a mechanism that can register and respond to the fluctuating levels of sand on either side of the pier. The third version of the instrument negotiates the scale between its own body and how it can engage the scale of the human inhabitant. A fourth version imagines how interior spatial conditions might be affected by the changing contextual situation, and how they might affect inhabitation. Each version is then photographed in the different circumstance the site offered with each visit. Collages of superimposed conditions, reveal the space the body of the instrument occupies through time. Moments of persistence through time contrast the ephemeral. The architectural engagement follows with an exploration of how the register might distill the beginning of an architecture that is in tune with the entropic conditions of its context and within itself. It explores moments of response between the space of the architecture and the flows of water and inhabitation, the changes of seasons and programmatic necessity. Superimposed against the faster changing balancing instrument, the architecture becomes the horizon against which the instrument is interpreted. The instrument acts as a rehearsal for an architecture of a longer time scale, an architecture which embodies the instrument through time, and therefore embodies the site itself. The sense of action embodied in the site informs not only the design process, but it persists at longer time scales within the architecture itself.

{The

Entropic Dance Between A Balancing Instrument And Its Horizon}


{Registering

}

Instrument

grown from its entropic site

The balancing instrument came into existence through a process of built up knowledge about the site. It was thus developed in four variations, each congruent with the 4 days of visiting the site: each version learns from the previous one; each version embodies the contextual circumstance provided by the site. Shown here are the four versions photographed responding to the mimicked conditions of the site for each of the 5 visits {which took place on 4 different days}. These photographs were then overlaid in order to reveal the balancing instrument through time.


the beginning of an

{Entropic

}

Architecture

At certain predetermined moments inside the building, parts of the balancing instrument disappear from view. The building then becomes the instrument’s horizon. The conditions of the site can be read through the inhabitation of the architecture.


the beginning of an

{Entropic

}

Architecture

The building is able to undergo changes of state depending on the flow of inhabitation, the weather, or programmatic necessity.


the beginning of an

{Entropic

}

Architecture

Engaging and adapting to the flow of water: The weight of rainwater affects interior spatial conditions. As rainwater drains and collects on a portion of the roof, the roof lowers, so that the building might become aware of its environment through direct implication. The water testing station collects samples from the ocean, the storm drain outlet, and rainfall. The pipes that carry the water become architectural elements such as handrails, or the pivoting rail for the balancing instrument.


{Sara

} a sound of snow falling or drifting gently

Sara

“Snow doesn’t look cold, it doesn’t look as though it has any temperature at all. And when if falls and you catch those pieces of nothing in your hands, it seems so unlikely that they could hurt anyone. Seems so unlikely that simple multiplication can make such a difference.” -Jeanette Winterson At once extraordinarily beautiful and dreadfully cruel, to us inhabitants of northern lands, the physical reality of snow deeply penetrates our imagination and our sense of place. It shapes our memories, our stories, and our rituals, from the most mundane to the most wondrous. “Sara Sara” is a competition submission for a warming hut along the skating path of the Assiniboine River in Winnipeg. In Japanese, “Sara Sara” is “a sound of snow falling or drifting gently”. The warming hut is a playful and curious engagement with the accumulation of nothingness that is snow. A wooden spine guides elastic ribs of fiberglass, which are clothed in quivering layers of mesh and warm-coloured translucent spheres. Like an awkward creature, the hut allows snow to collect and permeate its bubbly skin, its body readjusting to the accumulated weight. The interior space, in a constant process of rediscovering itself, is shaped by the weight of the fallen snow and the weight of its temporary dwellers. A suspended bench allows the visitor’s own body to affect the body of the hut, providing a playful parallel between our physical presence and that of the fallen snow. The returning wanderer discovers a new yet familiar experience; a childhood dream of glowing colours and frosty crystals.


a sound of snow falling or drifting gently

{Sara

}

Sara


{Weather

} Winnipeg

Station

Suspended above much of Winnipeg, the station is reminiscent of a floating vessel that is navigated by the weather through physical reaction and through time. An observation deck slides up and down inside a concrete nest, which serves as the frugal dwelling for the weather-person. Resembling mechanical flower petals, crane-like thermometers are operated by hydraulic pumps. As the hydraulic fluid expands with the rising outside temperature, the cranes open, lifting the observation deck and raising the ceiling of the dwelling. The roof of the observation deck is a metal cauldron shaped by the Winnipeg wind rose, so that in the winter the snow might drift most in its deepest crevices. Like a hibernating creature, the cranes snuggle the weather tower and the station compresses under the insulating weight of the snow. During the warm seasons, the cauldron drains its waters of melted snow and rain onto the concrete body of the dwelling, which absorbs their memory through time. At the scale of inhabitation, a large south-facing greenhouse provides passive relief from inclement weather. In the winter, it allows the thermal mass of the concrete to absorb solar heat. In the summer its windows open so that breaths of moving air can cool the inside. A skin of photovoltaic-operated umbrellas opens up to register the amount of sunlight and provide shade. When temperatures sink to painful degrees, the furnace breathes its steam onto an outdoor lattice. The icy crystals form magical patterns in which the weather-person reads tales inscribed by temperature and humidity.


{Weather

} Winnipeg

Station

The weather station is part of an ongoing investigation of weather as an active factor in the architectural experience of space. It attempts to transcend the unperceived, the “nothingness” of a building’s environment into physical experience which changes with the weather. It explores the possibility of an architecture which is dialectically engaged with weather and weathering, instead of an architecture that attempts to oppose weather. Predicting weather is based on an interpretation of real time phenomena, combined with weather data collected over time and used as precedents. The weather station attempts to investigate physical manifestations of both components. The weather tower engages weather by physically responding to it, as well as by allowing weather to alter its architecture through time. The architecture thus re-interprets space-making as a dialectical act which is continuously shaped by the action embodied in its environment. It seeks to be present in the living processes which affect its material physicality and its context.


GB-013