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MAY / APRIL 2011

TECHNICAL REPORT SOFT ECOLOGY >> Technical Work completed during MArch 2 <<

THOMAS DRAPER Primer / Thesis



Introduction.................................... 02 Iterating Light Filters....................... 04 Electronics Design ........................... 05 Final Model .................................... 06 thESIS

Introduction .................................... 08 Site ................................................ 10 Sectional Strategy............................. 14 Road Access..................................... 16 Structural Concept............................18 Structural System ............................ 22 Stainless Steel ................................. 26 Dockland Construction .................... 28 Cable Stayed Cantilevers ..................30 Fluvial Mud Studies ........................ 34 Buoyancy Tanks ............................. 36 Mooring ......................................... 36 Site Erosion .................................... 38 Tectonics ........................................ 40 Detail Design .................................. 42 Ceramic Granite Cladding ............... 46 Wind Sheltering .............................. 48 Ventilation ......................................50 Waste Disposal Bridge ..................... 52 Disabled Access ............................... 54 Fire Strategy ................................... 56 Services / Water ..............................58 Heating .......................................... 59 Iterating Walls ................................ 60 Lighting ......................................... 62

Iteration 6


Recursion : An investigation into recursively generated geometry


Design Make / Primer / Thesis


introduction My primer undertook the investigation of trying to apply digitally created recursive geometry to a real world applicaiton. Making the digital analogue essentially. I focussed on an L-System Fractal known as the Heighway Curve, a real world example of this fractal occuring is taking a long strip of paper and folding it over on itself again and again. With the resulting small strip, you unfold from the centre and rotate 90 degrees, this forms the first iteration. This process of unfolding from the centre and rotating 90 degrees is shown in the images below

The resulting form after each iteration is simply a more complex and detailed version of the shape of the prior one. Through digital modelling many more iterations can be discovered. This can be seen on the second row of diagrams. By scaling up and rotating 45 degrees after each unfolding a constant shape can be seen with the â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;grid of squaresâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; simply getting smaller and creating a more denser mesh. This can then tesselate to create a surface of various densities. I looked at several applications for this and my chosen direction was to see if I could build a section of the Heighway Curve that would physical iterate to changes in light level.


ItERAtING LIGht FILtERS So I decided that a louvre concept was something I could investigate as a delicate real object, not something trapped within a computer. My aim then became to create a appliance that could react to changing light conditions. The device would dynamically iterate the pattern as the lux level increased creating a denser ‘mesh’ of the geometry and give shading. I took three low iterations of the Dragon Curve that could be overlaid. I then divided these onto vertical axels that would allow the pattern to become ‘louvres’ and open and close. Then finally I removed any elements that were repeated from the earliest iteration within the later ones. This meant that it would mean as the first layer closed that would create iteration 5, with the largest components, providing the least shading. As the second layer closed when the light level increased, this together with the already shut first layer would create iteration 7 and provide more shading. Then with all three closed at the highest light level iteration 9 would be produced and the most shading provided.

Exploded Axonometric of the pattern that was used on the louvres


ELECTRONIC CIRCUIT DESIGN I only had a basic knowledge of electronic circuitry. I needed to create a circuit that was capable of opening a louvre at a low level of light and closing it a high level. It also needed to have an adjustable sensitivity. The diagrams on this page represent the evolution of

the circuit as I created one of the test machines. Eventually I had to move even more complex to achieve the adjustable sensitivity but I was able to finally reach my goal of how I wanted the device to operate though testing a research into the necessary components.




This investigation has been in my mind a success, the model functions as intended, reacting to different light levels by closing and opening louvres that create different levels of the dragon curve. The surprising extra outcome was not the machine itself, but the shadows it casts on the wall behind it as the patterns form and disappear. They add an elegant dynamic movement to blank walls. This system will become integrated into the facade of my proposal in order to create dynamic spaces that open and close in reaction to the sunâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s glare over the course of a day.


Sensitive adaptation for a changing landscape


Design Make / Primer / Thesis


INTRODUCTION My Primer had established an interest in responsiveness to changing conditions. I have chose a site that is mobile and subject to the changing conditions of an eroding landscape. What became apparent, however, was the importance of ecology on the site, and the manner in which fragile nature had managed to establish itself in a dynamic manner in such a hostile place. The site is a Spit of land on the mouth of the Humber estuary on the East Riding of Yorkshire. The technical approach has been to attempt to work with the natural processes and learn from them in order to create a responsible building that can help maintain the delicate landscape and ecological balance of the peninsula. sustainable aims & Learning from succession My aim is to have a wholistic attitude towards the environmental characteristics of the project. a combination of being adapted to the exposed climate and isolation of a community on spurn head; with the need to have very little impact on the sensitive habitat that the site provides for the important flora and fauna. The project will therefore take a large stance of choice of materials and building footprint in order to minimise the impact on the landscape that could interfere with any of the natural habitats. The fact that the project brief includes a community also means that there is going to be a constant requirement for energy and a production of waste and pollution by the proposal. I am to minimise this factor with the integration of renewable technologies into the building fabric. I intend to do this in a way that is taken from the process of the plant succession in the Halosere and Psammosereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s of the spit itself. Integrating the buildingâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s servicing into the structural elements which then create a network which can support the habitable rooms. See the early iteration of bouyant tanks with various building functions below. Finally the most important aspect of the environmental brief is the attitude towards the shifting site. using soft ecology the stabilisation of land should protect the unique site.


kingston upon hull

the river humber



north sea fetch IMPORtANcE OF SPURN Located on the East Riding of Yorkshire, Spurn Head (or Point) is a spit of land composed of deposits of boulder clay eroded from the cliffs of the Holdeness coast to the north. Currently due to Victorian interference the Spit is not receiving enough sediment to keep up with the moving cliffs to the North, risking it being eroded away all together. The nearest large city by land is Hull, which is a major industrial port and uses Spurn as a natural break water for its visiting vessels, if the deposition on the peninsula is not maintained or preferrably improved, this physical barrier to the elements for these port towns will be lost and would leave their docks exposed to the North Sea.


spurn head


13 diagram composed from current british geological map data

hELPING tO StABILISE A LANdScAPE In order to propose the most effective landscaping and architectural strategy to assist the landscape I did indepth analysis of Flora & Fauna, Fluvial Movement, Waves and Geological makeup.


These are featured in my Design Diary, however these two diagrams best explain my reason for chosing the specific point on the spit to place my buildings. On the far left is a Wave Impact and Bathmetry map of the waters around Spurn. Because of a deep water trench that is south of the spit Waves are defracted below the peninsula making it less abused by fluvial forces than the quickly eroding cliffs above it, apart from on its narrowest point where the peninsula bends, it still receives a higher concentration of waves due to its perpendicular alignment to the wave approaches. This combined with being the Geologically weakest part of the site (see left), I identified this as the key location to begin the thesis strategy.

area of weakest geological strength

intertidal zone

humber river deposition

beach + tidal deposits (mud-flats + sand) storm beach deposits (erosion zone) blown sand

dry land

till, devensian

spurn point

man made ground

increasing stability

tidal flat deposits


Bird Observatory / Visitorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Centre

Housing / Mussel Farm

Lifeboat Station

Movement of the Peninsula



The passive landscaping strategy of the proposal is threefold. Firstly the rate of erosion will be reduced by tactical planting of suitable sand dune plants such as Marram Grass and Sea Buckthorn, to stablise the shifting sands and decelerate the rate of sand movement. Secondly the Salt Marsh behind the spit should be encouraged to expand westwards in order for new land to be formed with the assistance of suitable planting such as Salt Marsh Grass and Glasscord.

Spartina Petons

Thirdly this will be achieved by the integration of a grid of Mussel Beds - ropes that have been prelaced with Spat (mussel larvae) and tethered between stakes on the mudflats. Mussels are a biostabliser and over time become buried by encourageingmud deposition and clumping around their colonies. This allows Salt Marsh Grass to establish itself and the marsh to expand. Ahead of all these passive processes are three independent platforms connected to the land by an umbilical bridge. These platforms are able to float ahead and slowly move Westwards with the landscape.



The peninsula itself has its own specially adapted access. Due to the Westward movement of the landscape, the access road requires constant realignment or it would simply fall into the sea within a decade of being laid upon the spit. Earlier in the 20th century a concrete road was laid to the tip of Spurn Head. However after time the eastern side erosion and western side deposition moved the road slowly into the sea, where it was simply a matter of time before it crumbled onto the beach and was washed away. A responsive attitude was taken on board by the occupants of the spit, much in the same way that I have tried to learn from this attitude in my Soft Ecology thesis. The new road is composed of Armourflex pads that are flexible, tied together with fibre cables, this allows them to bend and flex in flood conditions and best of all it can be picked up with simple equipment and realigned over time to adapt to the changing landscape. This maintains access along the spit to my proposed platforms over the future decades of movement.

The destruction of the old road by the onset of the sea in comparision to the adaptability of the new armourflex road.

The New Road



Comparison between Armourflex and the Concrete slab road

There are further advantages with the pad road, because it can bend and flex as the terrain below is eroded or washed out, it can react and sink appropriately, unlike the concrete road which would simply be undercut. Finally in flood conditions, if pads are lifted up through the force of water, when the water receeds it takes a man to stamp the pads back down after to restore their position with no damage, where the concrete road may have been broken or cracked.


SUccESSIONAL BUILdING FORM StRUctURAL cONcEPt The actual built form of the project is derived from my investigations into the ecology on the site. Both sides of the spit of Spurn Head feature what are known as Successional Colonies of Flora & Fauna. On the North Sea eastern side is a sand dune system - a halosere, which has dictated my landscaping strategy, and on the westward Humber side - where my building is located, is a salt marsh succsional colony - also known as a Halosere.



Sea Aster



Salt Marsh Grass

The Halosere transforms the mud flat into habitable land. Through my sectional strategy the stages work through the images of wildlife on the right; mussels are bio-stabilisers that cause mud to clump into raised areas. This brings an undulation and definition to the flat mud. This then moves onto the next level, the simple pioneer grasses such as Cord Grass. These grasses bind the mud and collect organic matter and humus that can begin to create a structure to support the advanced species of Sea Aster and Glasswort that require less Saline conditions. Finally nesting sites for birds such as Whinchats and Dunlins.

Advancement of Succession

Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve tried to emulate this attitude to creating habitable environments on the mud shown in the exploded axonometrics of the three platforms.

Common Blue Mussels

19 Research Watch

Camera Obscura

Cafe Kitchens

Bird Observatory & Visitorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Centre

20 House Lightwells

CERAMIC EXTRUSIONS Special elements are sat ontop of the building form are clad in ceramic granite which is extremely resilient to weathering and adds a vertical mysterious element to the form when approaching the platforms.

Mussel Breeding Tank House Lightwells

WALLS Clad in cedar so internally the wood will remain warm and inviting, whilst outside become weathered and silver as a reflection of the corrosive environment. STRUCTURAL FRAME Undulating lightgauge steelframe that responds to occupancy need for space, light and level to water / mud flats. Continued between the breaks in the platform via a steel tensile bridge structure. DECKSCAPE Creating a terrain for the building that contrasts with the flat land of the mud below, bringing the building functions closer or further from the cyclic water movement. BOUYANCY LEVEL Stainless steel bouyancy tanks connected by large hollow tubes acting as a floating foundation for the building as well as providing liquid storage when the building is remaining stationary.

Housing & Mussel Farm & Car Parking

Control & Watch Tower

Sleeping Quarters


Washdown / Drying Circulation

Lifeboat Station & VTS Watchtower


Stainless steel Buoyancy Frame ‘Foundation’

5x5 Structural Grid with bracing to assist with wind loading through the structure.



Constructing platforms on a mud flat condition meant no physical terrain changes or surrounding buildings to inform any restrictions on the building size and shape. That had to be strictly dictated by the environment (see Meteorological Response). And the building form became three platforms for each of the functions, and each of these platforms is composed of three segments. This creates a linear arrangement that sits parallel to the spit of land, almost like an architectural mirroring

of the peninsulaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s long narrow sweep across the Humber. To keep an order and rigidity to the design, being on the open mud-flats, I imposed a strict 5x5 metre grid for which to base the buoyancy tanks and columns that then begint to dictate the layout of the building above.



This axonometric of the Lifeboat Station Platform reveals how the Buoyant tanks give rise to a grid of primary circular steel columns. Supported off these columns is a lightweight steel frame, with lightgauge stud framing and suspended steel deck floors. The floor construction is supported by a series of open web steel joists, two of which cantilever out from under the building supporting the cable-stayed bridges linking the three segments of each platform.

The reasons for chosing such lightweight components is the obvious reason of making the building light enough to be able to float above both the water and mud. Being a saline environment, all Steel will be specified to be stainless to avoid corrosion and to help the building endure. This is explained in detail on the following pages.


C-Section Stud Wall Lightgauge Stainless Steel Construction, with bracing welded into the wall make-up to cope with high wind-loading

Wall and floor jointing - upper floors are supported by perforated steel beams whilst the â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;ground floorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; is supported by a lightweight open web truss with a metal deck.


StAINLESS StEEL FRAME cORROSION + tEctONIcS Due to the risk of corrosion with the extremem coastal environment, the frame of the platforms and buildings will be stainless steel. Stainless steel is an alloy of Iron which contains at least 10.5% Chromium. The chromium acts as a passive barrier on the surface of the steel and prevents oxidation of the steel - in other words there is minimal corroding or rusting of the metal.

The embodied energy of stainless steel is relatively high compared with many materials. Not only does it have the intensive steel production process but also the additional Chromium element in the make-up. However, this is compensated for by its longevity in extreme situations. Also by the specification of recycled Steel I can reduced the embodied energy by 2/3rds. Compared with the other suitable material annodised aluminium, it is a fraction of the embodied energy. The table below shows this, and also the embodied energy of using structural glulam. The glulam shows that recycled stainless steel is a low-energy alternative to aluminium, compared with other materials that are unfortunately not suitable for the environment of the site, stainless steel is still energy intesive.

Unpolished Stainless Steel











However the specified Stainless steel will have to withstand one of the most extremely corrosive environments. Therefore the specification has to be narrower. The stainless steel must be polished to achieve an extremely smooth surface - less than 0.2 µm (micrometres). Standard polishing methods would result in a shiny reflective finish that I feel is unsuitable to the tectonic aesthetic of a project steeped in ecology, nature and mud. Therefore a technique

suitable would be using fine glass bead polishing which gives a dull finish but with an extremely flat surface which helps resist the corrosive effects of salt spray.2 Below on the right two differeing samples of surface roughness tested against salt spray - the left hand side (rougher) has corroded much more severely than the polished sample on the right.

Ra > 1.0 µm Ra >1.5 µm

Ra > 0.3 µm

Ra >0.5 µm


Ra stands for Rough Average - it measures the average amount of deviation from a central line on a surface of an object.

Ra > 0.2 µm - quality of Stainless Steel required for such a coastal proposal.

1; Dr Colin Honess, Swinden Technology Centre, Importance of Surface finish in the design of Stainless Steel, accessed via British Stainless Steel Association Website -



The three platforms will be constructed mainly off site. Their floatable construction means that they can be built in controlled conditions in the Hull Docks and be towed down the River Humber to be moored on the site. This will minimise disruption to the wildlife on the site and also mean that construction can be much more efficient and not be affected by the wind and mud on the site. Each platform with its three segments will be built in turn, with the phasing order as: > Bird Observatory The existing facilities are most at risk from the coastal erosion. > Housing & Mussel Farm To accomodate the lifeboat crew and site warden and allow for the integration of the mussel farming to begin the passive landscaping strategy > Lifeboat Station Last due to being currently least at risk from erosion.

Construction in Hull Docklands


Tugged down the Humber strapped together for final onsite assembly

Moored on site for final steps - seperating the segments and the laying of the pontoon access bridge from the spit


cABLE StAYEd cANtILEVERS Between the segments of each platform I wished to create a sense of transparency and lightness. An elegant solution that gave a feeling of delicacy over the mudflats was to integrate a cable stayed cantilever bridge out between the segments. The integration of the cantilever into the main central segment means that loads are transferred back to the main column grid and down to the buoyancy tanks.

Loading Diagram


Cantilevered Cable Stayed Bridge Sundial Bridge, Redding, California

Abstract principle of a cable stayed structure



Tension Cable Stainless steel u-bolt Cable anchorage block Stainless steel bush fitted in aluminium casting Aluminium casting 305-millimetre-diameter aluminium tube with welded connections 100-millimetre-diameter hardened steel ball 305-millimetre-diameter hardened steel cup


Base Anchor Bridge Socket


Recreating Intertidal movement

FLUVIAL MUd ExPERIMENtS In order to understand some basics about a material that was very key to the site, I decided that I would conduct some basic experiments with fluvial mud. Mud is bonded together through static electricity and flows like a viscous liquid when it is saturated by water. With pressure it becomes more solid and resists the compression allowing objects to ‘float’ on top of it. Its tightly bonded structure also causes it to be very ‘sticky’ and coat any objects that touch it. I visited Penarth Mud-flats outside of the Cardiff Bay Barrage to collect samples of fluvial mud deposits that are similar to those found on Spurn Head. I then used these samples to recreate a mud-flat environment in my bath, which I was able to test various simple forms during tidal situations - by filling and draining the bath with water repeatedly.


Firstly two cuboid forms placed on the mud that were relatively large for the scale of the environment. The increased pressure from a small base area meant that they simply sank as the water was filled and drained. Lower profiled forms were then tested, however this time a com-

parison in mass was used. A heavy clay form was used at the top and a wooden piece below. Neither form sank into the mud due to its pressure being applied over a larger area, however there was a distinct distance difference with the lighter wooden piece moving much further with its low den-

sity. This creates an arguement for looking into potential bouyant forms that can be held in place with ballast until required to float. Finally the last forms I test with were profiled and smaller than the previous two. As if the form had been broken up into several

independent pieces. These forms travelled forwards slowly with the water drainage but at differing rates showing there would have to be consideration for this fact and if there were to be connections between they would have to be flexible.




The approach I took to the buildling foundations came from several aspects. I wanted to raise the bulk of the buildingâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s form above the mud-flats, in keeping with the attitude of Soft Ecology. So I looked into oil and gas rig construction rather than boat hulls that sit heavily on the water and mud. The buoyant tanks are also connected by hollow stainless steel tubes that also act as floatation tanks.

Using an offshore mooring line is the means of connecting the anchor on the mudflats to the floating structures at the surface. The mooring line consists of wire rope.

When resting on the mud, only the tanks make contact with the ground, still providing space for the movement of water across the surface of the ground and for various aquatic creatures to navigate beneath the building.

The mooring system must be designed to withstand the environmental forces from wind, waves and currents from any direction.

The tanks allow the building to float during flood conditions and also to float ahead of the passive land growth as not to interfere with the delicate ecosystem that is being developed in the Salt Marsh.

The floating buoyancy network with hollow tubes

Whilst not required to move on the water the tanks are filled with excess ballast to stabilise the platform

Mooring systems can be suitable for shallow water and the principles of keeping an oil platform inplace on deep water apply to keeping the platforms in my proposal in place.

Therefore my decision is to use a taut leg mooring system that will restrict the majority of movement between the segments of each platform

Taut leg mooring system.


Ballast pumped out for floatation / Pumped in for anchorage


Rapid erosion of materials.

MAtERIALItY OF thE SItE The highly exposed nature of the site causes rapid and unexpected changes of situation for buildings and their materials. it makes an interesting comparision with the typical weathering that is experienced by materials. The bricks on the left are an example of part of the construction of a collapsed building on spurn point due to the retreating coastline. The lumps of wall have undergone attrition and been worn and rounded into a form of a boulder which we would not expect from a clay brick material. They appear soft and doughy. To compare with usual wear the matrix on the right was composed from a study at an architecture reclamation yard in Tremorfa, Cardiff.

studies completed at cardiff architectural reclamation yard in tremorfa.


unintended damage

human usage

material weakness u nw o r n head piece


fig 2.1

fig 1.1

fig 2.2 lichen & moss bioligically weathering the edging

extremeties of detailing have been r u b b e d s m o o t h through use, removing the finish and s o fte n i n g the wood to touch.

fig 2.3

fig 1.2

manual damage from later construction with cement mortar

fig 2.4

fig 1.3

fig 2.5 physical impact damage shattering the brittle fired clay.

fig 1.4

ďŹ red clay edging blocks

top piece of the post has b e e n r u b b e d spherically smooth, removing any indenations or imperfect i o n s making it very ergonomically suited to the hand and inviting more use.

fig 2.6

bannister end posts

steel radiators


tEctONIc BREAkdOWN There are two main tectonic components to the platforms apart from the stainless steel. > CEDAR TIMBER SHELTER -That is a horizontal structure that houses most of the functions. This is relatively low in height - a maximum of two stories. This area sinks down towards the mud and water in spaces such as the cafe that wish to be lower to the water for better interaction between the visitors and the natural processes, and also rises areas such as the rental accomodation in the bird observatory further above the water to protect the occupants. > CERAMIC GRANITE EXTRUSIONS - The white ceramic vertical componentsembed themselves into the timber horizontal layer yet rise up above them bringing light down into spaces that are in the centre of the building or for the creation of special spaces such as the Camera Obscura. Internally they are clean white tiled contrasting with the warm cedar cladding of the ‘normal’ spaces.

Will become weathered and silver from the wind and sea - becomming part of the windswept landscape.

Will remain sharp and crisp held above the landscape providing a mystery to those on the spit as to their internal functions.

Bird Observatory & Visitor’s Centre


Ceramic Granite


Cedar Weathering Newly installed

12 Years Later



The Cedar horizontal component of the proposal is intended to appear as a form completely covered in the timber. So in the detail on the right I have researced a method of wrapping the cladding around the roof overhang and also conceal the roof drainage below it in order to give the impression of a timber roof plane that is floating out over the edge of the building. The reason to going through this extra effort is because the roof is seen not only from the side as you approach the platforms, but also from above on the widow’s walks on top of several of the platform segments. This therefore creates a warm roof scenario and with the use of very efficient thin rigid insulation from a supplier such as Celotex, the U-value of the roof can be brought down to an extremely low value of 0.20 W/m­­2K

Roof Buildup AA ; Cedar Timber Cladding Battens Secondary Steel Structure supporting Cladding above drainage layer Weather Barrier Rigid Insulation Profiled Steel Deck Primary Perforated Steel Beams at 612.5 Centres Steel clips Cedar Timber boarding

U-Value Calculation for Roof ; Components: Singly Ply Membrane Celotex EL3000 Insulation (130mm) Mechanical Fixings Polythene, 1000 gauge VCL Timber Deck U-value, Combined Method : 0.20 W/m²K

Overlap cladding with correctly orientated grain will warp over time into a stronger bond between pieces.







In a similar attitude to the timber cladding, I wish the ceramic extrusion to appear to be continuous as they puncture through the roof of the timber shelter. Around the perimeter of the extrusion where able I have proposed glazing so that occupants can visually see the tall towers of smooth ceramic bursting out towards the sky. Therefore internally there is a continuation of the exterior panelised cladding system down and under the ceramic extrusions where they are visable - e.g. the camera obscura or lifeboat watch.

Intended effect

Wall Buildup BB ; Ceramic Granite Cladding Panel Mounting System - Steel Secondary Structure Brackets Weather Barrier Rigid Insulation Steel Primary Structure 612.5 Centres Z Clip Inner Finish Support Plywood Adhesive Layer Tile Finish





Assembly sequence


As I explained in my tectonic approach to the scheme I have two contrasting elements. The timber which weathers and wears down slowly; and the ceramic granite that maintains its strong, robust & clean appearance. Shackerleyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s cladding system is very suitable for steel frame construction. It also has the benefit of being able to replace specific panels if they fail or break over time.

Example in use


What is ceramic granite? Ceramic granite is an attractive and versatile material manufactured entirely from naturally occurring constituents - refined clays, quartz, feldspars and metal oxides. Panels are dry pressed at extremely high pressures, typically over 12000 tonnes then fired at 1260°C until irreversibly fused. No bonding agents are used in the process. Because it is completely free from fissures, flaws and other weak points which reduce the strength and versatility of quarried stone in its original state, ceramic granite provides a proven, engineered façade solution with known performance. Ceramic granite is : Impermeable Exceptionally hardwearing Mechanically stronger than any natural stone Compact and homogeneous - no fractures or weak points A proven, engineered material with known performance Absolutely frost proof Totally fire proof Resistant to acids and alkalis, even when concentrated* Huge range of colours, grains and veining Non-fading ‘through colours’, unaffected by light/UV rays Uniformity and reliability of colour even over large surface areas Available in choice of surface finishes




wind rose

One noticable feature of the site that I found upon visiting, was the severity of the wind. It combination with this, the prevailing direction of the wind is from the West, over the Humber Estuary. Through an interview with the Nature Reserveâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s on Site Warden, Andy Gibson, I learned that this wind, and not the occasionally Easterly wind from the sea, caused Spurn Head the most problems.

The sections reveal how the building is also composed of a wind break concept, with thick Westerly walls with few penetrations allowing for the Easterly face looking back at the landscape to open up and enjoy views.

% Chance of Wind Direction

days of gale

Location: Hull Spurn Manby Cleethorpes Average Days of Gale Per Month

In response to this I have had to create a building form that shields the Westerly gales across the flat estuary. The plans on the right hand page show clearly the areas of protected outdoor space to help increase the times when it can be operable (Green Areas)whether for visitor activities such as fishing and cafe eating, or pratical functions such as lifeboat crew drills or equipment maintenance. I have then allowed for more transitory outdoor decks on some of the Southern faces. These are where the iterating facades open the walls up and their envisioned use is only in optimal summer temperatures (Yellow Areas).



Visitor’s Centre; an advantage of orientating the building this way is that the approach is towards the open glazing of the Eastern facade.

Lifeboat Station; openings only occur in ‘special’ locations such as the watch in the lifeboat station (seen in this section) or in the auditorium and cafe of the visitor’s centre. Making the opportunity of seeing out onto the Estuary something to seek from one of the connecting bridges or widow’s walks.

Bird Observatory & Visitor’s Centre

Lifeboat Station


Prevailing Wind

Positive pressure

Negative pressure

Bird Observatory & Visitorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Centre


Prevailing Wind

Positive pressure

Negative pressure

Lifeboat Station

PASSIVE VENtILAtION StRAtEGY Due to the narrow plan of the building and being orientated in an North / South direction, the secondary advantage from the shielding is the ability to take advantage of the negative pressure build up on the Eastern side of the building to draw fresh air through the building. This is shown in the sections on the left. Cool air is drawn in through operable vents in the ground floor plate as to avoid direct strong blasts, and is then allowed to escape through operable vents and windows on the East facade. In summer this will form an effective cooling system, with a constant supply of cold air from the Humber estuary being able to provide fresh cool air into the building.


WASTE PROCESSING PONTOON BRIDGE The pontoon bridge is constructed from several deployable sections that have an integrated â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;living machineâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; system of reed beds that process the grey and black waste of the buildings and transform it into harmless fresh water which can be released into the environment.

Reed Bed Integration Piece 1 Reed Bed Integration Piece 2

Sections of bridge


Living Machine Schematic


DISABLED ACCESS Disabled access was considered early on in the design of the linear segments. I realised that I would have to accomodate the needs of wheelchairs if I was intending on changing the floor levels as part of the ‘Deckscape’. Therefore all public zones of the scheme are accessible via either platform lifts or 5 metre 1:12 ramps that comply with disabled access building code, the layouts of these routes are displayed in the diagrams on the right. Below shows the consideration for centralising verticle movement for disabled access in the central segments (in this case the Bird Observatory, but the same principle applies in the Lifeboat Station), the lift sits between the level changes allowing easy access to all floors and the rooftop widow’s walk without the need to incorporate several lifts or not being able to access certain parts of the design.

By specifying a platform lift I was able to minimise the amount of service space associated with the mechanisms of the lift itself.

Widow’s Walk

Camera Obscura

Reception & Warden Research

Exhibtion & Cafe

Bird Observatory central visitors centre segment


Lifeboat Station

Bird Observatory & Visitorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Centre


FIRE STRATEGY Fire is a severe problem for my scheme. The lack of access for a firetruck means that the simple strategy would be to evacuate people down the pontoon bridge - but failing that route being available, every segment of platform has accessible outer decks. On these will be located small inflatable liferaft for high tide conditions or descendent ladders so that people would be able to descend to the mud-layer in an emergency and wade to shore with provided â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;mud shoesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; - effectively snow shoes that spread out the pressure to prevent sinking.

1 life-raft tank per open deck area

In all cases distance to an external deck under 18 metres

Due to the nature of the project there is only one main escape route from the central segment of each platform.



SERVICES Building servicing is relatively simple due to the linear arrangement of spaces. Each platform contains a suitably sized plant room (see red areas on plans). These plant rooms link to the rest of the platform along their axis and bridges. Electricity is linked to a mains supply that is installed on the spit of land, soon to be linked to a proposed off-shore wind-farm, the Humber Gateway. These cables are enclosed within the pontoon bridges back to the spit.

WATER Potable water would be an awkward service to provide to the platforms, it is not as easily flexible or small as electrical cabling. Therefore as the platforms move Westwards, small wells are drilled by a landbased machine at the mouth of the pontoon into the chalk bedrock where fresh water can be retrieved. This is processed in a small hut that is incorporated into the bridge and pumped to the platform.

Processing on the pontoon

Submersible Pumping System Diagram


hEAtING I looked into potential eco-friendly methods of heating the platforms. The best solution I could find was the taken from the case study to the left, a visitorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s centre that is heated by a ground source heat pump buried on a mud flat.

Mudflat Heat Source Case-study

Brancaster Millennium Activity Centre, Norfolk Location: Norfolk Type of development: Activity Centre retrofitted in historic building Facilitator: National Trust Open or closed system: Closed loop heat exchanger system System configuration: Horizontal Heat Source: Mud flats Rationale behind project: The Brancaster Millennium Activity Centre is a residential education centre which was opened in 1997 to promote environmental sustainability. The Centre is housed in a refurbished 17th century building. The building was refurbished using sustainable materials and it incorporates several renewable energy technologies. Other renewable technologies have also been incorporated at the centre and include solar hot water, solar PV and a small wind turbine. System specification: The centre has a heat pump which uses the adjacent mud flats as a heat source. The heat pump supplies under-floor heating in parts of the building. 1km of plastic piping has been completely buried under the mud flats to serve as a heat exchanger. Brine is circulated through this piping and as it circulates its temperature is raised to that of the mud. The brine then flows into the heat pump where heat is extracted from the brine to the water that is then circulated through an underfloor heating system. Outcomes: Ground source system

Heat Pump Diagram

Heat Pump

The intention would be to allow the heat source pipes to be buried in the mud and gradually sink deeper to more effective temperatures. Overtime as the platforms move westward, the connection to the source will be lengthened using appropriately insulated and efficient piping. Internally underfloor heating will provide radiant heat to the spaces. Underfloor Heating

Sprayed On Insulation

Underfloor Heating Pipes above insulation


RESPONSIVE WALLS As a direct link to the Primer, the appropriate south facades of the platforms are actually the louvre system I invesitgated using the heighway curve. These walls flitter open and shut with the changing light conditions to provide solar shading when needed - but also to create an impressive array of dynamic shadows across the spaces such as the cafe and exhibiition hall in the Visitorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Centre.

Locations of Iterating Walls on all 3 platforms


Low Light-Levels, Low Iterations - More Open

Bright light and the facade is very closed and creating dramatic shadows across the space.

Segments begin to react and close to the increased sunlight


LIGHTING STUDIES PLATFORM 1; Bird Observatory & Visitorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s centre Overshadowing studies completed in Ecotect

Being on a mud-flat there is no overshadowing effect from any terrain and there are no surrounding buildings in context, so the only effects of overshadowing can come from the building form itself.


Bird Observatory and Solar Path (June 21st)


Distance between the segements of the platform is sufficient to prevent solar gains on the south facade of the more northern segments.

Worst Case - December 21st

At noon the southern most segment (the cafe) does not shade the south facing window on the exhibition space allowing for improved solar gains throughout the day.


In summer there is absolutely no issue with overshadowing.

Best Case - June 21st


December 21st interiors

This series of diagrams show the movement of light through the internal spaces over the course of a winter day. Eastern glazing means early morning sun is able to penetrate the space and begin passive heating through solar gains from around 9 am. Then with the openings continuing to the south, the sun tracks around until early afternoon still heating the spaces. Finally in this worst case scenario the sun sets at just after 3 pm but is still hitting the southern facades at this late stage.


N 1200






June 21st interiors



In summer the solar gains are much the same as Winter however the external decks are much more likely to be inhabited. Originally in combination with the wind sheltering concept of the form I restricted decks to the east of the building, however I realised that this was very restricting to the occupants who would want to occupy the decks in the afternoon and evening sun, therefore I extended the decks around the south facade of both the cafe and exhibition hall segments of the design.


These decks now receive some sun until 6 pm and although that is not the late evening, the building is not likely to be occupied by the public in the late evening and will be entirely satisfactory.











LIGHTING STUDIES PLATFORM 3; LIFE boat station & vts Overshadowing studies completed in Ecotect

In the same way as the bird observatory, being on a mud-flat there is no overshadowing effect from any terrain and there are no surrounding buildings in context, so the only effects of overshadowing can come from the building form itself.


Lifeboat Station Solar Path (June 21st)


The majority of the day overshadowing on the each otherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s facade is not an issue.

Worst Case - December 21st

However at noon when the segments are alighned with the sun the arrangment causes overshadowing for approximately one hour.


Once again in June there is no issue with overshadowing.

Best Case - June 21st


December 21st interiors

This series of diagrams show the movement of light through the internal spaces over the course of a winter day. I followed the same principles as the bird observatory platform in locating the majority of glazing on the south and east facade. Eastern glazing means early morning sun is able to penetrate the space and begin passive heating through solar gains from around 9 am. Then with the openings continuing to the south, the sun tracks around until early afternoon still heating the spaces. Finally in this worst case scenario the sun sets at just after 3 pm but is still hitting the southern facades at this late stage. The only real difference is that middle hour from approximately 11.30 am to 12.30 pm where overshadowing from the tall ceramic elements blocks some of the sunlight penetrating the spaces in the northern two segments. However, this is such as short amount of time that it is a minor issue.


N 1200






June 21st interiors

The principle effects of the sun on this platform are the same as the bird observatory in Summer. I crept the decking around to the South edges to receive sun later into the day in the same way as the bird observatory platform. There are no real issues to be seen. N












Technical Report  
Technical Report  

Technical requisites report for my Master of Architecture thesis project at the Welsh School of Architecture