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URBAN CA(R)TALYSER: A RECONSIDERATION OF VALUE REGIMES THROUGH ARCHITECTURE

SONAKSHI PANDIT 1


URBAN CA(R)TALYSER: A RECONSIDERATION OF VALUE REGIMES THROUGH ARCHITECTURE Situated on a contested site—a former quarry and landfill—the project degrows Edinburgh’s Craigleith Retail Park, forming part of a wider masterplan-wide strategy that seeks to upcycle low-value materials into architectural components. This effectively shifts the site’s focus from a market-driven and car-dominated approach, to one that percolates a philosophy of care, reuse and repair. The proposal probes a deconstruction of the site’s current value systems, transforming it into a social hub and forum for the surrounding community and visitors. With interventions including a climbing wall, sports field, running track, performance and event facilities, the proposal reintroduces public space and pedestrians to the site, propagating a more equitable sense of well-being. Finding value in existing elements on site, the project repurposes the shopping cart as an architectural component—a material that potentially risks obsolescing, considering the rapid growth of online shopping, further strengthened by the outbreak of COVID-19. The project upcycles the 950 shopping carts found on site into ‘gabion-carts,’ utilising their immediate affordances to identify structural, programmatic, environmental and social strategies for the project. These gabion-carts are used to construct transformable structural walls that can be climbed, seated on, played with and used to store goods. The modulation and thermal inertia of the rubble fill material inspires varied articulations of light and the invention of a gabion-cart trombe wall-system to passively heat the building. In this sense, the project revaluates the lowly shopping cart, unveiling its latent potential and promulgating reuse and upcycling as degrowth methodologies for the built environment. Hacking the site’s retail infrastructure, the proposal strategically juxtaposes the existing lightweight steel structures with denser gabion-carts. This, coupled with the ability to ‘grow’ the gabion-carts with rubble fill from demolition works, weaves an original tectonic system into the material networks of Edinburgh, prototyping the diversion of low-value material streams into architecture.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS SITE ANALYSIS

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DEGROWTH STRATEGY

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SITE PHASING

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MATERIAL RESEARCH

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FORM FINIDING

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MATERIAL FLOW

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DESIGN DEVELOPMENT

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PROJECT STRATEGY

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STRUCTURAL AND DESIGN SYSTEMS

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PROGRAMME

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ENVIRONMENTAL STRATEGY

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FINDINGS — CA(R)TALYTIC POTENTIALS

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A SITE WITHIN A SITE CRAIGLEITH RETAIL PARK

GROUP WORK WITH CONSTANTINA ANTONIADOU AND ENRICO LUO

Situated on the edge between city and suburbs, the site lies directly above a quarry and overlayed landfill, which when coupled with the current land use as a retail park, illuminates a sense of shifting patterns of value. With this is mind, the project considers how processes of repair, reconditioning, reuse and upcycling can provide a way to re-think the site and its current anthropocentric history and, in turn, replace the anthropocentric view with one that foregrounds material agents.

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SITE ANALYSIS ISSUES At present, the retail park presents itself as a closed-off and impervious structure, neglecting the surrounding local community. This is a result of the profit and consumerist-driven design based around a vehicular-dominated infrastructure, that works to facilitate the purchase of products. Additionally, the lorry circulation at the periphery of the car park, closes off the retail park further to the surrounding community. A lack of infrastructure to support community activities in the surrounding areas provides an oppurtunity to do so.

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Lorry circulation

above 90% car users population

Population of unemployment

Population of elderly

GROUP WORK WITH CONSTANTINA ANTONIADOU AND ENRICO LUO 5


DEGROWTH STRATEGY MAPPING ACTORS The exercise to map actors beyond the site was carried out to establish supply chains for potential material components to reuse within the material library. These actors may then, potentially, be woven into an established network of material streams across Edinburgh, propogating an urban mining strategy. Additionally, the exercise enables the project to consider inculcating these key actors, such as small-scale makers, within the project. As a result, we propose an online system that would enble uploding of materials etc. establishing a more visible chain of material networks amongst people.

GROUP WORK WITH CONSTANTINA ANTONIADOU AND ENRICO LUO 6


DEGROWTH STRATEGY URBAN DEGROWTH STRATEGY The scheme of seeks to work with the well-connected existing retail parks across Edinburgh and to consider their near-future adaption into material libraries, formulating a network of hubs within the urban mining strategy.

In line with the Edinburgh 2030 city vision, our group schemes endeavour to weave the site into the proposed green network.

GROUP WORK WITH CONSTANTINA ANTONIADOU AND ENRICO LUO 7


DEGROWTH STRATEGY SITE DEGROWTH STRATEGY The site degrowth strategy works to reconsider the boundary that lies between the surrounding neighbourhood and the current retail park through the proposal of an alternate route for vehicles, in order to pedestrianise the periphery of the site. The scheme also proposes a threshold in the form of a running track to enhance site permeability. Moreover, considering the current value systems assigned to the site, a new public space — one that that focuses on long-term benefits of wellbeing as opposed to the fast-paced consumerism is sought after; the scheme seeks to benefit community wellbeing as opposed to the former consumerist incentives, seeking to form a material library with integrated public functions that focus on education, reuse and well-being.

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ROUTE RECALIBRATION Freeing up the periphery of the site from vehicular circulation in order to introduce a permeability towards pedestrians by limiting lorry circulation from the outside to a restricted space on the inside.

PERMEABILITY

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Installation of a running track running across the perimeter of the site to increase permeability of the site to pedestrians and the surrounding neighbopurhood. The jogging track effectively acts as a threshold from community to material library.

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GREEN NETWORK

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Proposed vegetation to inhabit the running track and to develop from the green networking strategy, weaving in existing green networks.

Docking space for the existing Sainsbury is retained with a recalibration of route, using an existing road.

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DEGROWTH STRATEGY SITE DEGROWTH STRATEGY

INTEGRATED CIVIC FUNCTIONS

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Integration of external social infrastructure to facilitate public and community structures across the scheme, including a climbing wall, market spaces, community workshops, classrooms, a market square and several performance spaces. The proposal to use lorry space as a sports pitch during weekends serves to further enhance community well being. These schemes convert an otherwise consumerist-driven car park to one that supports a wider sense of wellbeing through communal activites.

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CONNECTIVITY

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Erection of a walkway to enhance connectivity across schemes

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SITE PHASING

Removed site infrastructures, such as lamposts and bollards, are to be reused elsewhere within the new civic functions of the proposed scheme.

Transplantation of specific trees.

GROUP WORK WITH CONSTANTINA ANTONIADOU AND ENRICO LUO 10


Asphalt removed to be used within gabion-carts in the construction of the material library.

A total of one building is demolished in order to enable lorry access to the recalibrated lorry route.

GROUP WORK WITH CONSTANTINA ANTONIADOU AND ENRICO LUO 11


Any paving removed to be used within gabion-carts in the construction of my project.

Paving is added around the lorry circulation space for staff to commute across schemes, as well as in the market square.

GROUP WORK WITH CONSTANTINA ANTONIADOU AND ENRICO LUO 12


MATERIAL RESEARCH A RESPONSE TO VALUE

The surveying of components was largely carried out through the lens of low value. Thus, non-standard building components of particularly low value were sought to develop a way to permit their upcycling into building components. A low value component or ‘forgotton’ object on the site seemed to be the shopping carts. The typology of the site led to the discovery of around 912 shopping carts combining those found in Marks and Spencers, Home base and Sainsbury. The upcycling of these components seems pertinent, considering the rapidly approaching reality of online shopping as a trend and the inevitable turn towards an epoch of social distancing through the outbreak of COVID-19. The upcycling of these components also provides a diversion route for abandoned carts which may otherwise end up in the landfill or undergo the energy-consuming process of recyling.

Shopping carts surveyed to be found at the back of retail buildings as well as at or around the entrance to buildings.

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MATERIAL RESEARCH

MAPPING CARTS/ CART-OGRAPHY

Identifying a wider supply chain for shopping carts.

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MATERIAL RESEARCH IDENTIFYING AFFORDANCES

The basket component of the cart has been identified as a component that could potentially be developed as a gabion, through the deconstruction of the cart. What this then affords is to be filled with various material, starting from paving offcuts and various masonry material coming from demolition works, and particularly the immediate site due to any site work from the construction of the project. The swingable and open face of the cart may then be used to figure out a suitable and efficient sequence of construction and how the carts may potentially get filled with material. The swingability of the face means that the carts could be (re)fillable even upon erection of the main structure.

open face Swingable backface

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MATERIAL RESEARCH GEOMETRICAL CHALLENGES

INITIAL CONFIGURATIONS open face

Swingable backface

The utilisation of the shopping trolley gabions as a load-bearing wall introduces challenges that arise specifically from the trapezoid geometry of the trolley. The intention of the design proposal is to achieve a sustainable solution that minimises waste by minimising any unnecessary modification to the cart (additional faces, etc.), whilst also simplifying the sequence of construction, all whilst achieving a stable configuration. This means that the existing open face and swingable face must be used to figure out a configuration that utilises the potential of these functions. The early vertically-oriented gabion-cart wall iterations have been reconsidered for a lateral orientation, allowing for more structural integrity.

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MATERIAL RESEARCH RECONSIDERED LATERALLY-ORIENTED WALL TAXONOMIES

WALL TYPE 1

WALL TYPE 2

This configuration generates the least amount of waste, since the open face of the cart-gabions does not face the exterior parts of the wall, enabling no extra faces to be made. Yet, the sequence of assembly becomes complicated since specific modules of the carts need to be made to enable ease of filling.

This configuration enables material to be filled even after erection of the wall, since the swingable-face faces the exterior. This wall type also entails a simpler sequence of construction.

WALL TYPE 4

WALL TYPE 1

WALL TYPE 3

This configuration is similar to wall type 1, yet is a less stable wall typology since there are larger gaps between the vertical cart layers, enabling fewer connections through the u-clips.

WALL TYPE 5

Each alternating vertical layer presents an issue in wall type 1, since specific carts within these layers become unfillable when slotted in due to the lack of access to an open or swingable face, arising from their orientation. As a result a module is proposed, where wall type 1 is to be utilised, which may or may bot be pre-packed at installation

This configuration requires an additional face for each cart facing the exterior, making it a more wasteful solution.

This configuration creates the most gaps between vertical cart layers, reducing the number of connections that can be made between carts and, therefore, reducing the overall stability of the wall.

open face

Module enables for ease of fill. Module to be connected by u-clips.

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MATERIAL RESEARCH WALL TYPE 2 SEQUENCE OF ASSEMBLY As a result of the advantages that wall type 2 offers, concerning ease of fill, minimal waste and the potential for (re)fillability for specific carts within the wall, the wall type has been chosen as a prevalent system within the project.

1. Vertical rebars are erected and concrete strip foundation is then formed. The carts slot into the rebars, with the first layer oriented to enable material to be filled from the top (the open-face faces upwards). Any gaps are sealed on the exterior by an extra mesh face, enabling the gaps to be filled with smaller infill material.

2. The second layer of carts slotted in, are flipped to align with the skewed edge of the carts below. This means that, once in place, these carts can be filled with material through the now external-facing swingable face. From here, the layers alternate and so the method of fill also alternates.

3. Working with materials coming from demolished sites means that the wall needs to respond to interrupted flows of materials. The swingable face enables material to be filled even upon erection of the wall. This means that a main structure could potentially be erected, with some empty carts that get filled as material arrives.

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MATERIAL RESEARCH STRUCTURAL SOLUTION DEVELOPMENT

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The two different tectonic systems involving trusses and the load-bearing gabion-cart walls require a tectonic solution that enables the gabion-carts to remain as load-bearing members whilst utilising the existing truss system in place. The previous iterations utilise a steel plate to distribute load from the truss to the gabions, however, the final iteration makes use of a reinforced concrete slab. The column transfers the load onto this concrete slab which then gets distributed to the gabion-cart wall.

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Final iteration

The separation of the two juxtaposed systems through a clerestory enables the two systems to be tectonically freed from one another.

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FORM FINDING A TURN TO THE PROCESSUAL

Much of the formal and geometrical logic of the project derives from the movement and choreography of shopping carts as they go through the processing to become gabions.

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Stills from processes displayed in a shopping cart repair facility

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FORM FINDING TRIPTYCH OF PROCESSUAL WALLS

A wall to respond to the meandering curvature of carts — the movement of carts into the building is a key step to the derivation of the geometrical logic of the wall.

The next step, after the cataloguing of carts, involves the process of deconstructing the carts. The process of deconstruction into the basket requires immediate spaces to store these components. The wall responds through creating pockets of spaces.

A wall to respond to the altered material state of shopping carts into gabion-cart-baskets. Upon change in material state from a movable cart that uses up horizontal space for manoeuvring to a gabion-cart-basket, whose storage consists of a verticality, the spatial layout changes to one that emphasises compression and verticality.

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FORM FINDING DESIGN DEVELOPMENT

Vericality - a question of compression, a spatial response to changing material states of the cart. detail elevation side by side the baskets , + plan.

Elevational response to stacking of carts.

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MATERIAL FLOW ACROSS THE SCHEME

Arrival of shopping carts through lorry space. A lorry space that accomodates for up 18-20 m long lorries has been designed, considering these are the spans of lorries carrying carts in bulk, which is a scenario that the scheme needs to accomodate considering the supply chain and the fact that the most efficient and economic way to transfer carts is in bulk. Storage space enables long-term storage of shopping carts and copper tanks for the neighbouring copper tank processing facility.

The shopping carts are stripped off into their components, some of which would get recycled or utilised in the production of small scale products at the small-scale maker space within the masterplan

Space for the priming of any gabion-carts that are to be primed after processing Workstations for the processing of the gabion-carts, involving grinding, cutting, sanding, polishing etc.

Gabion-carts are packaged upon placement of orders and dispatched.

A total number of 550 carts to be catalogued in terms of defect, size and type.

Upon being separated into baskets, the carts are then stacked vertically as gabion-cart-baskets

Display of 1:1 wall typologies

Testing of 1:1 mock up wall typologies

Storage point for finished gabion-carts.

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DESIGN DEVELOPMENT RETHINKING THE TROMBE TROMBE-GABION-CART-STORAGE WALL

The placement of the trombe wall adjacent to spaces where shopping carts are being stripped off of their parts enables the wall to further respond to this through the adoption of wall type 2 as the configuration. This wall type enables the swing-able face to be oriented toward the exterior, enabling material to get stored temporarily and to allow the gabion-cart-trombe wall to be open-able, and function also as a shelving unit at specific points within the structure.

Plan detail

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DESIGN DEVELOPMENT TROMBE-GABION-CART-STORAGE WALL DEVELOPMENT

The gabion-trombe wall requires weatherproofing and insulation at the bottom exposed part. This means that a cavity has been introduced, where the wall pushes backwards to enable the installation of a waterproof layer lining the gabion-carts and rigid insulation.

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Detail section

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DESIGN DEVELOPMENT

Development sketches showing gabion-cart-wall to steelstud wall proportion

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DESIGN DEVELOPMENT EXPRESSING THE GAP The tectonic strategy involves the utilisation of two separate wall systems of a particular juxtaposed quality — heavy gabions and lighter, sharper steel-stud walls. This requires a structural solution that emphasises this opposed quality, and one that literally expresses this gap.

Plan detail

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Plan detail

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The previous iteration involved welding a component in order to resolve the junction between the two systems. With design in dissassembly in mind, an alternative solution has been configured, one that does not require parts to be welded.

Detail plan 1:20 Gabion-trombe wall to secondary wall-type junction

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DESIGN DEVELOPMENT A RESPONSE TO SITE PERMEABILITY

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public circulation (ground floor) public circulation (first floor)

The scheme changes to adapt to the site strategy of enhancing permeability across the site, enabling more public functions to permeate and flow from the exterior part of the scheme to the interior part.

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PROJECT PHASING/ STRATEGY

Exisiting envelope stripped off to structure. Part of existing building retained to feature as a shared storage and packing area.

Additional truss system put in place, using the remaining dissassembled trusses from the structure. Additional columns put in place.

Existing framework pushed back and sliced through to enable a permeable approach — one that opens up to the parallel neglected community face. Parts of floor joists are also retained to index public entrances as a canopy, and to retain the essence of the original construction.

Secondary steel stud wall system erected utilising cladding panels from exisiting and dissassembled envelope of building.

Load bearing gabion-cart walls put in place. Specific existing columns are dissassembled and cut to desired length before being re-installed to transfer load from the truss to the gabion-cart walls.

Replacement of existing roof pabels with polycarbonate panels enables the scheme to improve the lighting and spatial conditions where necessary. The remaining roof panels are those that have been dissassembled from the existing structure. Some of which may need to be cut to a desired shape.

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PERMEABILITY

CONNECTIVITY

GROWABILITY

Increased site permeability to the community through the removal of the current road that runs around the site and the installation of a green running track that runs around and parallel to the community face, effectively pedestrianising the perimenter of the site and enhancing connectivity across the group schemes.

Integrated public walkway installed through building to span across neighbouring building and provide easier access to the public square and market place, effectively using the building as a means to channel people through.

As a result of the grow-able nature of the gabion cart walls, the walls are able to grow and allow for new functions to occur in spaces. The scheme proposes the potential for a performance space through growth of stepped seating. In addition, the retainment of structural joists and trusses, external to the building envelope, enable communal programmes /sheds to plot in in the near future.

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STRUCTURAL AND DESIGN SYSTEMS

LOAD-BEARING GABION-CART WALLS

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STRUCTURAL AND DESIGN SYSTEMS

TRUSSES AND COLUMNS

PUBLIC WALKWAY

The main framework of the building consists of a system of trusses and columns, most of which form part of the existing structure on the site (highlighted in red). The extension from the exisiting structure also adopts the same truss system, repurposing trusses from the remaining dissassembled structure

A public walkway, leading to public functions, is woven into the existing structural grid system.

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PROGRAMME SHIFTING PROGRAMMES LORRY CIRCULATION

WORKSHOP

WORK STAT

IONS

WORK STAT

GF AC E SEA TIN

CLIM

G BIN

PERFORMANCE SPACE

IONS

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1:1 MOCK UP TESTING WORK STAT IONS

EXHIBITIO N/ EVENT S PACE

STORAGE OF GABION BA SKETS TO BE PROC ESSED

E FAC

The transformation of the lorry circulation space into a sports field over the weekends Illustrates the flexibility and adaptive reuse of an otherwise forgotton space within the urban environment, whilst also enhancing site permeability.

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VISITOR CENTRE

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CHANGING RO TOILETS/ SH OM/ OWERS

M RO EET O IN M G

STAFF ROOM

STAFF ROOM

Public functions Staff/private functions Ground floor PROGRAMME OVER WEEKDAYS

SPORTS FIELD

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STORAGE

NG MBI

The individual strategy involves modifying the opening hours of specific functions within the material library to enable civic programmes to occur over the weekend. This would include the public walkway, exhibition/events space and cafe. In this sense, the closure of the material library over weekends would still enable public functions to occur.

DISASSEMBL Y

F O INA G FP LS SB R T IO OC OR N ES A -C S G AR ED E TS

STORAGE

WELDING + PRIMING

CATALOGUIN G

The project seeks to develop a site-wide programmatic response that oveturns notions of monoculture for ideas of adaption and reuse, where the identity of specific spaces throughout the scheme remains fluid, transforming at different periods and emulating the structural fluidity of the gabion-carts which also ebb and grow.

CHANGING RO TOILETS/ SH OM/ OWERS

VISITOR CENTRE

M RO EET O IN M G

STAFF ROOM

STAFF ROOM

Open public functions Closed functions Ground floor PROGRAMME OVER WEEKENDS 35


PROGRAMME SHIFTING PROGRAMMES LORRY CIRCULATION

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PUBLIC WAL KWAY

PUBLIC WALK PUBLIC WAL

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KWAY

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Public functions Staff/private functions First floor PROGRAMME OVER WEEKDAYS

SPORTS FIELD AC

PUBLIC WALK WAY

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Open public functions Closed functions First floor Programme over weekends 36


PROGRAMME SHIFTING PROGRAMMES

The exhibition/ events space, along with the visitor centre, remain open to faciliatate community events and programmes to permeate the material library during the weekends. This would involve lectures, performances, exhibitions etc. Additionally, the courtyard space transforms into a space to learn and play, enabling the public to view the 1:1 mock ups of gabion-cart wall types but also to experiment with these.

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PROGRAMME FUTURE ADAPTABILITY The gabion-cart wall typology enables an element of growth to occur as the site develops, responding directly to the material stream of demolished masonry material at hand. This growth enables the creation of a stepped seating space for performace areas, and the ease of assembly/ dissassembly of the wall enables these spaces to constantly be modified when needed. Additionally, where floor joists and trusses have been retained external to the building, civic programmes, such as community sheds, may plot in in the near future.

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PROGRAMME TRIPTYCH OF WALLS FOR THE PEOPLE The same three walls are developed so that they can facilitate public programmes.

The gabion-cart wall grows to enable for stepped seating adjacent to the performance space. The gabion-cart wall grows to enable a rock-climbing face to be established for the public.

The gabion-cart-trombe wall pushes outwards to offer seating for people viewing the game during weekends.

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PROGRAMME

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PROGRAMME AN URBAN CORRIDOR

The walkway that leads to the market square penetrates into the building fabric enabling commuters to witness the processes within the material library. The trombe wall enables for interesting lighting conditions — considering the modulation of fill material grain size — to seep into the walkway.

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ENVIRONMENTAL STRATEGY DESIGNING FOR SOLAR GAIN

Ground

The project features a trombe wall to take advantage of the thermal inertia of the fill material. As a result the large workshop spaces have been oriented so that maximum solar gain can be obtained through the placement of trombe wall and gabion-cart walls on the southern facade. This means that thermal comfort can be provided in the unconditioned workshop space.

First

Exterior space

Interior unconditioned space

Trombe wall Gabion-cart wall (thermal mass) oriented for solar gain

Interior conditioned space

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ENVIRONMENTAL STRATEGY PASSIVE HEATING STRATEGY The scheme features a trombe wall on the southern facade, enabling any cool air from within the building to be heated in a passive manner. The filling of carts with demolished masonry material such as paving offcuts, asphalt, enables material of high thermal mass to be placed within the carts. The modulation of grain size of fill material within the trombe wall is intentional, as it allows vents to be created at the upper nd lower parts of the wall, enabling cool air from the building to enter the airspace between the wall and the polycarbonate panels and, once heated, to rise and re-enter the building. Hot air enters the building

Cool air is heated

Uptake of cool air

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ENVIRONMENTAL STRATEGY ENVIRONMENTAL SECTION

Rainwater collection

Polycarbonate roof panels improve daylighting and spatial conditions Operable roof panels allow for ventilation

air circulation Trombe wall features as thermal mass through the infill material and allows for the cool air from inside the building to be heated in a passive manner.

Heat conduction

Rainwater is recycled and collected for the irrigation of green spaces and cleaning of any vehicles/forklifts.

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ENVIRONMENTAL STRATEGY

Insulated interior volumes to provide thermal comfort from unconditioned space.

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FINDINGS — CA(R)TALYTIC POTENTIALS SOME AFFORDANCES OF A GABION-CART WALL

CLIMB-ABLE

SIT-ON-ABLE

GROW-ABLE

(RE)FILL-ABLE

OPEN-ABLE

VALU(-)ABLE

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Urban Ca[r]talyser: A Reconsideration of Value Regimes through Architecture  

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