By Steven Peralta ARCH 101 Fall of 2012
The Final Project is a collaborative one in which each member of each group utilizes their design creativity, experience, and skills developed through the first half of the semester to collectively design, manage, and construct temporary installations in the courtyard behind Batmale Hall and barren hillside directly outside of the Architecture Department. The central theme is intended to respond to architect Bart Prince’s quote, “Architecture is a Sculptural Biography.” The installations shall evoke spatial experiences in those who encounter these forms and spaces. These installations shall: Respond uniquely to the site Reflect narratives of the human condition Support accidental encounters Provoke others to experience and appreciate transformations and occurrences that are normally ignored or taken for granted in our every day world
The courtyard outside Batmale Hall is defined by the area within the semi-circular retaining wall. There is an exterior breezeway and the courtyard connects to the exterior stairs leading up to Circle Drive and to the Soccer Practice Field.
At first we chose to deal with the two planter boxes and build a transition between them.
We then chose the area in front of the face panels located by of one of the planter boxes. Our choice was based on the natural lighting provided by the sunâ€™s path during the day and the interesting faces that we had yet to exploit in our design.
ď‚ž Concept: magically altered lights and shadows to
give different ambiance and spatial experiences ď‚ž Intention: to create a spatial experience evoking mysterious and mischievous thoughts through the altered and dappled light projected from the outside in. ď‚ž Features: constellations in the starry day sky, two personal nodes, corridor, large communal space with large circular bench, transition of lighting in corridor leading to one of the two personal nodes, elevated walkway
Student faces cast in six 4’x4’ concrete panels Semicircular courtyard marked with orthogonal grid Array of 3/4” threaded holes spanning the length of retaining wall (excluding area covered by panels) Retaining wall that tapers downward with a series of slopes 6” Rain gutter offset from the wall by 1’ Natural sunlight providing direct path of sunlight to selected area from 9am-5pm
"A Starry Day “ The thought of final examinations cloud your mind as you and a fellow classmate pass under the array of flying buttresses that make up the breezeway on the easternmost part of Batmale hall. To your right, the girl’s soccer team practices passing drills on a synthetic turf, in the distance are the hills of San Bruno, lined with brightly colored Victorian Homes. As you turn the corner you cant help but notice there is something different about the once cold and empty courtyard north of Batmale Hall. After making your way through the first two installations you are eventually drawn towards the Dark tent-like structure undulating around the 6 concrete squares fastened to the retaining wall. At first it appears to just be one large black mass of fabric, as you look closer you notice the form is comprised of several dome-like tensile structures stretched with black lycra. The entry way is marked by the close proximity of the two smaller domes and the triangular awning stretched between the two. As you step up the platform into the largest of the domes you are forced to duck your head under the overhang. Once you have entered the structure, you find that the day has suddenly turned to night. As you careen along the dark passageway you find yourself inside a planetarium like space, dotted with stars. You were the first to enter but you soon notice you are not the only one to inhabit the space. Along the wall are three panels of faces cast in concrete, faces of past students, teachers, maybe even the workers who built Batmale hall. You ask yourself, “Who are these people and what are they doing here?” Maybe they are wondering the same about you. At first you are overwhelmed by these people, they all seem to be watching you, judging you even, but as you settle in with your peers you begin to feel more at ease with your concrete hosts. You realize that they are no different than yourself. They too are people who stand on the same grounds and observe the same sky, wondering what lies beyond, wondering, but never knowing for sure. Inside of the communal dome the C-shaped bench and the base create an archetypal pit in which you and the other visitors congregate into a circle. Eventually you notice there is another passageway on the other side of the corridor in which you entered. You decide to pursue it. Walking through the narrow corridor you are squeezed up close face to face with the two remaining panels of faces until the faces break and you find yourself in a completely different environment in which you came from. You are no longer under a starry sky amidst an audience of concrete faces. You are alone in a smaller node filled with dappled light. The light appears to be coming through pairs of horizontal slits cut in the skin. You notice these slits closely resemble a pair of eyeholes, so you decide to look through one, then another, and another. Each set of holes frames a different view, some the same, but at a different height or angle. From the outside of the node you go unnoticed, except for the imprint your face makes in the skin. From the outside you too have become another face in the wall. All in All your just another brick in the wall.
Selection of Materials: We looked at various fabrics to stretch over the entire framed structure that would not only be stretchy enough to reveal the ribbed contours of the frame but also block out as much light as possible to maximize the light effects, thus we chose a black lycra. We also wanted to be as cost efficient as possible so we constructed the base out of shipping pallets obtained with permission from various stores for free. The additional supplies were PVC piping, wooden 1x4’s, sheets of plywood, and “C” brackets to mount the PVC pipes to the base.
Floor Plan and Construction: We designed the floor plan to respond to the curvature of the wall as well as create a built-in and implied pathway for the viewer to follow. From the entrance, they would go into the planetarium, then around the wall into the 1st personal space and on their way out notice the smaller 2nd space.
Interior Bench: I designed the bench to be both lightweight and structurally efficient to both cut down on cost and construction time. I used a truss assembly to make multiple modules connected to create a unified circular bench, continuing the constant edge of the base.
PVC Frame: We chose PVC piping because it’s cheap, strong, and flexible. We needed a material to be the main support for the walls and ceiling of the installation and also to bend to create the curving dome shapes. We then attached them to the base with “C” brackets to ensure the pipes would not move at the bottom when bent.
Lycra Skin: Finally I seamed multiple pieces of the lycra together to form a large tentlike skin to maintain tension across the entire installation. We all slid the PVC pipe through the very edges of the skin to anchor it to the frame and base. Lastly, we poked holes in the dome to transform it into a planetarium by mapping out constellations. Also, we cut slits into the larger personal space to create the multiple view points conveniently shaped around the dimensions of a human face to bring the scale down intimately as well as invite the viewer(s) to look in a specific way like peep holes. These holes also create the projected images of eyes staring at you from all sides provoking a mysterious and creepy feeling.
Communal Dome: thousands of pinholes allow
Personal Space #1: Pairs of horizontally sliced
light in, creating a planetarium like space under the dome evoking similar sensations experienced under a nights sky
holes create a dappled lighting effect which distorts the vision setting an eerie ambiance. The slits double as multiple view points in which the inside looking out, like a fly on the wall, multiple view points
Personal Space #2:
behind curtain evokes feeling of being trapped, anxious, blind, stressed, uncomfortable, lonely, secluded, sick, dizzy, caged
Strengths: • Very low cost construction • Strong and durable frame • Responds successfully to the selected site conditions. I.E. curvilinear nature of courtyard, face panels, and sunlight
Weaknesses: • Exterior appears “boring” due to missing layer • Issues of craft ensued when constructing the base and PVC Framework
Missed Opportunities: Due to the time and budget constraints, we were forced to leave out the third layer of our hierarchical system. This third layer comprised of an array of white triangulated sails that followed the tapering of the retaining wall.
Challenges remaining: • Build layer of triangulated sails to complete third layer, cast extra layer of shadows and address homogeneous nature of the exterior • Explore new ways to emphasize the theme of darkness and isolation in 2nd node
Going into the final project I was skeptical due to the main lack of desire to work in a group. I am used to working by myself and so this was both a challenge and a learning experience in that field alone. Having taken other classes prior to this studio, I expected to have an advantage in structural design and material expertise. However, once I started to dive into the project and handle struggles and was forced to improvise, it neutralized most advantages that anyone might have thus making it equally as challenging to all of us. After building the installation and investing so much time and effort, I presented with my group in front of the panel of judges with some confidence that our design would be compelling and attractive. This confidence was soon met with numerous questions and critical questioning about various subjects that I did not anticipate like not following the path I envisioned, and being turned off by the black and ominous faĂ§ade of the installation. Unfortunately the time and budget constraints forced my group to cut some corners such as leaving the joint connecting all the PVC pipes unfinished and not having the dome quite high enough to provide enough space for viewers to sit on the bench comfortably. On the upside, however, the emotional effects induced by the lighting effects compensated for the lack of craft and was still able to provoke the intended reactions of awe in the planetarium and mystery in the personal space. This project has taught me both how to use both the physical and mental tools needed to manage and execute such a task. My group mates and I have also learned how to manage and optimize time, monetary, and labor costs. Working hands on definitely aided in my learning process because instead of working with scale and conceptual design, I got to put it to the test and discover the transition between drawings and actual building materials. The major concepts I will remember and take away from this semester are 1) itâ€™s not about what you think it is, itâ€™s about how others will see and interpret it as; 2) always turn mistakes and accidents into something intentional and an even more beautiful component; and 3) no one will ever be perfect, but one should always strive to be it.