Bachelor of Architecture 2012 College of Architecture + Urban Studies Virginia Tech
The Importance of the In Between How does an architect design interstitial spaces?
In Between Projects
Cube made of partial floors, partial walls and partial roof
The Importance of the In Between How can interstitial space, often overlooked by architects for its spatial potential, be used in the generating and making of architectural space? The in between space can be used as a driving force in the making of form. Interstitial spaces usually take the form of leftover gaps between the inside and outside. Often, they are inside walls or between floors. These places are usually uninhabitable, but can be turned into usable space. A famous example of this is the stairway inside Brunelleschi’s dome in Florence, leading up to the cupola and the view from the top. A boathouse and community center in Portsmouth, Virginia serves to test the thesis. The boathouse is the bridge between the city and the harbor. The 12’ thick main wall is a corridor and an entrance to the building, and doorway from the event room to the rooms on the other side. The steel roof curves upward to this wall from the other two key walls, as if to beckon the visitor to this point in the building and then through it. Steel cables are stretched between the concrete walls to support the roof. “Too often, space or void, has been considered an a priori condition. Rather than using it and its relationship to solids to create a harmony and balance of form, void has been unconsciously disregarded as a virtual non-element in design.” - Between Solid and Void p. iv
Interstitial area in Frank Lloyd Wrightâ€™s Unity Temple (the area above the main spaceâ€™s stained glass ceiling)
Part of the narrow and curving stair between the inner and outer shell of the Duomo in Florence
The Importance of Sketching Sketching = critical thinking + development of ideas. I have learned to rely on sketching, not only at the early stages of a project, but also during the making of final iteration drawings and the articulating of details. Throughout this book, sketches are placed adjacent to drawings to show the process behind them. These sketches begin to address questions of form, lighting conditions, site placement, openings and the typology of a boathouse.
Existing Parking Garage
Existing Residential Tower
The boats housed in the bottom floor are carried out through wide-opening doors and lowered into the harbor across a ramp.
The Importance of Modeling Modeling = three dimensional sketching of physical spaces. Simple sketch models at the beginning of the thesis assisted in the testing and developing of ideas.
Wall Studies Potential functions of a wall. A wall typically contains structure, but what else can it contain? The above wall serves as stairs, a bookshelf, and a bench. Rockite is used to model the 2â€™ thick concrete shells that the massive walls of the project are constructed out of.
Event Room + Boat Room The two most prominent rooms are the boat storage room on the first level and the event room on the second level, also known as the ballroom. They lie on the east side of the central wall, and their openings face the harbor on this side. At the second floor on the east wall, they open up a balcony and on the first they extend down into the harbor, opening the boat room to the air and the water level on the east side. This series of arched openings only occurs on this side of the 12â€™ thick central wall, emphasizing the physical transition as one moves through the wall.
High and Low Tides of the Elizabeth River The opposite elevation highlights the east wall and a sliding door of the boat room. The tide table shows the high and low tides over the course of two days, November 15th and 16th 2011. At the highest points of each day, where the tide rises to 3.10â€™ and 3.17â€™ it will overflow onto the floor of the boat room through the two arched openings. In this way, the building interacts directly with the harbor.
1 Tide Stairs 2 Boat Room 3 Men’s Room
4 Women’s Room 5 Mechanical 6 Storage
The Tide Stairs Interaction of the boathouse with the tide is enhanced by design of “tide stairs” that step down from the boat room into the harbor. Inspired by the design of ancient Indian stepwells, the stairs branch off at each side of the main flight, which becomes narrower as it descends. The stairway’s primary function is to measure the level of the tide, rather than to be traversed by humans. Visitors can observe how high or low the water level is by how many stairs it covers, until the high point where it overflows onto the bottom floor. The racks are occupied by both small sailboats (about 20 feet in length) and single sculls (27 feet in length). The boats are transported out of the room by the wooden sliding doors on each side. These doors can be slid into the concrete pockets that lie to the left of the central wall. In the warmer months, the boat room can be completely open to the air when all the doors are slid into these pockets. The boats are then carried down to the water by the two ramps to the north and south of the building, on each side of the tide stairs.
1 Conference Room 2 Office
3 Women’s Room 4 Men’s Room
5 Event Room 6 Storage 7 Structural Roof Cables Above
Community Center A concrete sleeve attached to the south side of the building cantilevers out over the first floor and contains program elements. The rest of the second levelâ€™s spaces are dominated by the sanctuary of the arching roof. A ramp from the west wall leads to the two main entrances on the south side and echoes the form of the boat ramps on the bottom floor.
In Between Spaces The orange shading signifies the interstitial spaces from which all other elements of the project grew out of. It is the places between the two large hollow walls, both the inhabited space and the space above used to house mechanical systems. The space in between the boat walls, which change from corridors to barriers. The tide stairs are a mediator between the depths of the harbor and the boathouse. The level change within the central load bearing wall further emphasizes the sense of transition when crossing it.
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City + Harbor At the scale of Holiday Harbor in Portsmouth, Virginia, the boathouse is a point of threshold between the city and the harbor. It embodies the in between at multiple building scales.
Events The visitorâ€™s eye is primarily drawn to the ceiling in the ballroom, with its exposed steel cables and two narrow openings. Six translucent skylights in the floor allow light into the boat room below. The north and south sides are enclosed by thin wooden panels that are interspersed with glazing.
Boat Becomes Wall By placing the sculls on the racks, they enclose the openings and become part of the wall. By removing the boats, the wall that was once a barrier becomes a corridor, and one can move through the boat room from east to west as well as north to south.
1 Clamp 2 Roofing Membrane 3 Insulation 4 Steel 5 Plywood 6 Metal Decking 7 Glass 8 Frame 9 Steel Studs 10 Painted Steel 11 Cable Ties 12 Cable
4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
Roof + Cable Construction Longitudinal Section 1/2” = 1’
Roof + Cable Construction Latitudinal Section 1/2” = 1’
Cables + Roof Steel cables with a 3â€? diameter span the roof at 4â€™ on center. Layered on top of the exposed cables, the roof structure consists of: Painted steel Steel studs for lateral bracing Insulation Metal decking Plywood Steel
In Between Projects
InBetween House / Koji Tsutsui Architect & Associates Located in a mountainous region outside of Tokyo, Japan. The house consists of five single pitched roof cottages that are clad in the local larch wood siding. It is built in a traditional Japanese wood construction method. The cottages vary in size to fit their functions and are set on the site at 30 degree increments to fit the existing topography and frame unique views.
In Between Projects
All the roofs have varying slopes and overhangs that touch the overhangs of adjacent cottages, like alleys in a city. The triangular connecting roofs span between these overhangs to capture these gap spaces as a single public interior space. The gap serves as a living room and circulation space, and evokes the feeling of being outside looking at mountains in the distance. The connecting roofs bend and fold to connect the cottages at multiple angles and heights, giving the in between space a quality of structural and spatial warpage.
The architectâ€™s initial design featured a linear string of rooms topped with roofs that pitch in different directions. But after splitting the volume into discrete boxes and moving them around like chess pieces, he realized that manipulating the interstitial space was the key to enlivening the plan. Many computer-generated iterations followed until the architect and the clients agreed on a loose circular configuration defined by five boxes, glass walls, and the continuous but multifaceted roof.
In Between Projects
Wall of Discarded Books / Max Gerthel Investigating the wall as an architectural element: its spatial potential and symbolic value on a larger scale. The program developed around the concepts of reuse and assemblage. Waste material was collected in an attempt to build a â€œgarbage wall.â€? The designer came across a lot of old books left in a recycling station and directed his interest towards these discarded books in order to form the wall.
The Book Wall is a public space, accessible for anyone to deposit or collect books, any time of the day. The outer edge of the new wall is offset about two meters from the existing retaining wall. With time, the wall will expand upwards and inwards, finally touching the original retaining wall. Thus, the area in between the walls will no longer be large enough for a person to move through.
In Between Projects
Villa Ajmakan / Orange Architects Saudi Arabia A residential housing project in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The spatial beauty of a natural cavern, with its carved out spaces and halls, was the inspiration for the project. Room positions can be altered to individual wishes, but the spatial concept stays the same. The central theme in this concept is the quality of the in-between space.
This space, the void, offers strategic views in different directions, both vertical and horizontal, while protecting the villa from overexposure to the sun. Daylight is directed carefully and deep into the house, and at the same time the void functions as a tool for natural ventilation.
In Between Projects
Church of 2000 / Richard Meier Tor Tre Teste, Rome, Italy The whole design concept is based on the contrast between cube and sphere, and the clear division - or connection point - is the main space of the church. It was conceived of as a composition of basic elements, referred to as the purity of the cube and the sphere, and the in between spaces and connections.
On the interior the natural light comes through the gaps between the solid elements and brightens the whole space. The main source of diffused light is the glass roof between the shells. But in the early morning and afternoon, the sunlight also penetrates the entrance facade and the altar facade. Different materials are used to show the hierarchy of spaces. Sculpted travertine blocks form the sacred furnishings to underline their importance. The only variety from the off white tone of the concrete is given by a suspended wood-frames wall, vertical and facing the most internal shell.
In Between Projects
Early Site Plan
On Site Sketch
A boathouse would be an apt and appropriate addition to the city of Portsmouth. Its history and identity is deeply rooted in its purpose as a naval center containing the oldest naval hospital and oldest shipyard in the U.S. The buildings located at the waterâ€™s edge are celebrations of this identity and create the placeâ€™s culture. The proposed project would echo this distinction and carry it one step further by creating more physical interaction with the Elizabeth River.
â€œI feel I exist on the boundaries, somewhere between science and art . . . public and private, east and west. I am always trying to find a balance between these opposite forces, finding the place where opposites meet, stopping time, existing not on either side but on the line that divides . . . and that line takes on a dimensionality, it takes on a sense of place and shape.â€? Maya Lin
Acknowledgements . . . . . Thank you to everyone who was supportive to me over the course of this year. Family members, friends, studio mates in Burchard, my roommates K.J. and Frankie. Thank you to my older alumni friends for insight, Jeff Lang for technical support, and a number of professors including secondary advisor Heiner Schnoedt and primary Patrick Doan, for eternal encouragement.