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PUBLIC SCHOOL NEW YORK / USA Starting point for this project was the investigation of interaction of two different systems. Adaptation through relaxation creates intersting shapes with specific traits . Just like eroded stones in the see : Hard edges are sculpted into much softer curvatures. How does this relate to education? In education recess and focus play an important role and can be seen as two adaptive systems as well. In the design of this school ont he edge of Manhattan the theme of soft versus hard edge became the benchmark for sculpting education spaces offering areas of recess and focus . Another important feature becomes the interaction of the classroom units. 2 grades , a lower and a higher grade form a strong bound unit . A" buddy unit" where mutual care and spatial interaction form a protected space within the larger body of the school. Furthermore bridges overarch the pattio and connect same grades. The students and parents enter on the 2nd level while the 1st level is accesible by the public and offers a gym and a large auditorium dipping into the sea that connects to two music rooms for communal use.

circulation FERRY TERMINAL







#2 school






studio gisela baurmann











European settlement

"The Battery"

Castle Garden

natural coast line open harbour Fort

fortifications of the coastline protection Fort

Battery Park Ferry Terminal-Immigrants Industrial Piers

open soft

closed hard



Battery Park City in the making Reinforced coastline Ferry Terminal-Commuters De-industrialization Piers become "no-mans-land"

semi permeable hard and soft

semi permeable more hard than soft








studio philip parker


By observing movements in nature and tracing the change in materiality, directionality, inflection and interval certain moments become visible. These decisive moments of change and inflection can also be found in social fields of cities. Line drawings of various types and intensities animated in 3D software start sculpting surfaces which are imprinted with distinct characteristics and genterate new movements along, against and through, depending on factors like curvature and porosity. These surface qualities add up and frame spaces that become occupiable by the public. The structure responds to an existing social condition and create intertwined private and public zones. Located on the Plaza of the Marine Midland Bank office complex on 140 Broadway in Manhattan the project focuses on creating a sculptural structure that engages with the backside of the existing building to reactivate it by affording a new circulation and additional multifunctional communal spaces.






4 Members

ca. 180 m 2 6 Rooms 1 floor

SINGLE 1 Person

ca. 64 m 2 4 Rooms 1 Floor

What if a tower would grow with the number of its inhabitants? A linear 2D pattern evolved into a modular system of distinct volumes that can be arranged and offsetted in various manners. The size of the modules define floor plan layout and facade appearance. Thus each apartment has it´s individual character representing it´s owner(s). When entering the spacious lobby on the ground level a curved staircase welcomes guests and inhabitants. It acts as the connecting community space offering integrated seating alcoves on the first 4 floors. On a splitlevel at 3,5 m a small bar and relaxation areas invite to eat, drink and relax. Beside this a Lift guarantees fast accessto the upper floors. Additionally a small garden in the ckyard on the groundfloor, protected by surrounding buildings, invites the habitants to rest. All these elements afford creating an inhouse community to avoid anonymity and isolation. 14


upgrade a room



between the folds


ARTIST STUDIO NETHERLANDS A roof that moves with the wind to reconnect to nature. Three screen like walls define the buildings structure while defining three seperate areas working space, living room and private area, simultaneously creating layers and visual axes. The geometric code originates from folding studies based on the fibonacci order 1,2,3,5 and 8. These numbers modify the spacial order. Their sublime character is purposely employed to give the forms selfevident structure and realtion. Using folding techinques the 2D surface evolves into a complex 3D shape translated into a roof structure in Grasshopper. The duality of solid to dynamic is also represented in the projects materiality. Self-insulated concrete walls with integrated furniture units enable flecibility in the use of space for the artist. A small living unit seamlessly casted in concrete is added to the studio space. The roof consists of high performance lightweight fabric designed for aeronautics and astronautics moving with the wind exposing the inhabitant to nature..




RESTAURANT cusine think tank



1.1 m 0.7 m 0.45 m

3.1 m

5.1 m

Cooking plays an important role in japanese culture but takes great inspiration from western style. By partially opening the kitchen guests can experience food more closely and get involve in the process. To protect the calm atmosphere the restaurant is framed by a concrete wall also serving as the major structural element. Horizontal windows create interesting communication with the outside. The inner courtyard is defined by room-high glass panels to create a communicative atmosphere. In summertime all panels can be opened to extended the space to the outside. The second floor resembles the classical japanese style restaurant: small alcoves offer privacy being seat- ed around small tables on tatami mats. A protected cross culture space to en- joy time and exchange ideas.





"Excellent!" I cried. "Elementary," said he." Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The property of an old power plant hosting various institutions: an alternative cinema, a theatre stage, artist studios. the location leaks a hostel for being a completed microcosm. To keep the endearing clutter and its communicative spirit the hostel is located in the back of the biggest plant, Simultaneously creating a quiet and idyllic atmosphere. Aligned to the small river, facing nature, the hostel offers a calm sleep ambiance Therefore the hostel is reduced to the essentials. Basic necessities like sleeping, eating, refreshing defined the concept. Low budget but proper level of comfort are the paradigms that initiated a process of pondering the various aspirations and led to the decision of sorting the different needs by creating zones within the building. a sleeping zone, a logistic zone with cleaning alcoves and a community zone with a small cafeteria. The sleeping zone is segmented into double rooms and rooms with 4 beds. Its compartments open up to the south, straight into nature. Whereas the logistic part forms a compact back that protects the building. The highlight of the hostel is a filigree wood frame foyer with the cafeteria offering space for spending time communicating and eating. The purity of the inner structure defines the simple structure and is represented outside by the plain facade construction.


HOTEL quint essence


URBAN CONCEPT POTSDAM | GERMANY Being former residence of the prossian kings and the german kaiser until 1918 and home town of the parks and palaces of Sanssouci, germanies largest world heritage site, Potsdam has several claims to national and international notability. But times have not always been that glamorous. during the war a vast section of the precious historical downtown suffered damage from bombing attacks. After the second world war, Potsdam became part of East German and thus isolated from West Berlin. Financial problems and cold war obstructed reconstruction. Many historical houses were pulled down instead of being restored. The socialist government realized public housing projects in the former historic city centre. Nevertheless parks, lakes and the river Havel crossing the city make Potsdam and its many cultural spots a unique cultural landscape. However the culture spots have drifted apart. it has become difficult for visitors to walk around the city. Especially along the river a vast gap 1has emerged. In 2013 architect and Ingenieur Association Berlin AIV announced a competition finding a concept of reconnecting Potsdams areas and to create new living areas. Potsdam and its landmarks has created multiple identities. Two main parameter have always been important for Potsdam: The prosperous flora that inspired gardens and parks all around Potsdam and visual axes towards landmarks and throughout the whole city. These two characteristic variables took a leading role in my concept. By creating a new urban life along the river with various squares, promenades and parks the visual and infrastructural connection is improved. Vis a vis situations and new squares with visual axis plus a walkable bridge reconnect the city center with the main station on the opposite side of the Havel.


URBAN CONCEPT woven identities




W/NERY savour & sense


WINERY THURINGA / GERMANY Embedded in an idyllic and copious landscape this structure invites to experience nature. The main corpus faces the natural topography of a vineyard and its plot. Residing in a light slope it consists of of 3 distinct volumes. 2 massive concrete elements hosting functional parts of the building. In contrast to the massive base the top part opens up to the surrounding through its filigree steel frame and glass construction and the roof with its translucent cover made of perforated corten steel - Inspired by vine leafage. The steel cover produces bracing light and shadow on the observation platform. The ceiling-high windows can be opended in summer to let more nature in. The open kitchen in the top room of the pavilion offers space for meetings, vine dĂŠgustations or cooking classes for and by local wine growers. It can also be used by visitors relaxing a few hours after a hike through the painterly landscape.


PAVILION WEIMAR / GERMANY Intention of this project was to give an old tea pavilion the chance to regain its role as an communicative meeting point by analysing its historic value and carefully adding an extension to provide further space and state of the art facilities. The design incorporates an cylindrical shape with an slightly angled roof which circumscribes the rectangular pavilion and offers an additional minimalistic entrance. The structure consists of wood frame covered by an translucent plastic membrane to provide indirect light and beautiful shadow effects inside the extension connecting nature and interior. Moreover the membrane makes the extension a precious glowing landmark in the darkness of the night.


PAV/L/ON preserve remember rebuild?






"one moment in time" (japanese saying) How to capture the ephemeral condition of a bursting bubble in line drawings? How to express the dissolving of a delicate boundary condition ? My project focuses on visualizing momentary condition and change in line drawings utilizing a variety of drawig and modeling techniques. Illustrating the moment of eruption and dissolution by combining tarditional drawing style with 3D modeling.




a5 B3 B1




"The older the layers, the more each of them is uniform over a great extent; the newer the layers, the more they are limited and subject to variation within small distances." (George Cuvier)

1B 3a

Inspired by 19th century biologists George Cuvier's "Linnaean taxonomy" and Erich Häckel 's catalogue of nature 's shapes this project works with shapes and their transformation. Utilizing 3D and 2D software shapes of different geneologies are created which are then grouped by traits of their appearance.




"the pathos of things"

(japanese saying) This animation deals with the details and the precision of objects and their relationship with space.


"the pathos of things"

(japanese saying) This sequence investigates representational methods in rendering and drawings illustrating the aggregation and disintegration of part to whole object relationships.



WR/T/NG deconstruction of the wall


Since the early days of architectural theory has been refiguring and refining the characteristics of space and its division influenced by changing parameters, always thriving for justification, epistemologically, historically. socially, politically. I started this essay with a number of discoveries that raised questions and might reveal connections across generations of architects and theorists. I will examine the special relationship of spacial division and materiality in connection to underlying architecture theory. How has history changed our perception of the spacial divider? What influence has language had on the creation of space? Has computer technology and its parametric language of design altered the approach of how we create enclosure and division of space? Has computation connected or disconnected us from nature? Have we liberated material through computation or is material oppressed by algorithms? Or on the contrary have computational methods helped to incorporate axioms and methodologies that Gottfried Semper envisioned centuries ahead of time but never was able to translate into an architecture in practice? Starting point will be Gottfried Semper and his groundbreaking treatises about material, nature and form-giving parameters in architecture "the four elements of architecture" with special focus on his thinking about the spacial divider. Furthermore I will pay attention to the loss of meaning through translation of his work from German into English. As the richness of German constitutes a major impact on Sempers language and the use polysemy in his theory is essential for understanding his work. Parts of his original text remain partially untranslatable to English. Before I analyse the perception of Semper's ideas in the uprising architecture scene at the end of the 19th century in Chicago focusing in particular on the influence on Frank Lloyd Wrights "organic architecture" which I will compare to recent development of organic architectural methodology in close connection to materiality and the use of the computer as a tool to reconnect to Sempers leading-ideas about nature and material. For that I will look in particular at the spearheading theorists Neri Oxman and her "Variable Property Design" as well as Skylar Tibbits and the methods of "4D printing". Gottfried

Semper born in 1803 as a son of a rich textile manufacture in Hamburg, Germany, studied math and archeology in GĂśttingen. In 1826 he left Germany to studyarchitecture under Franz Christian Gau a respected archaeologist and architect in Paris. Gau awakened Sempers enthusiasm for the history of architecture and encouraged him to go on his "grand tour" to France, Italy and Greece to study historic buildings. During that time he formulated early thoughts about architectural principles that would later become essential for his theories. Returning to Germany in 1833 he started to hold lectures in Dresden about the history of architecture and published a pamphlet about his findings with the conviction that building practice was in the need for an eclectic but "characterful" cladding (Bekleidung). Based on his early lectures and the publication Semper formed the idea for an ambitious written work. At the age of 35 he was assigned his first important commissions in Dresden including a maternity hospital, a synagogue and the Royal Theater (Hoftheater) built in a neoclassical, democratic style which Semper considered appropriate deviating significantly from Schinkel. This building launched a brilliant architecture career which would end abruptly in 1848 with an political ĂŠclat causing the democratic revolutionary Semper to flee Germany. Planning on immigrating from Paris to the US the unemployed Semper ĂĽpractical art. Arrivin in London he was strongly influenced by the British zeitgeist and the World Exhibition, 1851, getting involved by designing the pavilions for Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Egypt, Canada and Turkey. For the first time in history the "Great Exhibition of the Work of Industry of all Nations" displayed consumer goods from all over the world along with imperialistic treasures; only to reveal a discrepancy between the lack of design and quality of European industrial production and Asian handcrafted manufacturing. Like many others Semper sensed a need for reform. He saw the cause to the problem in the effortlessness of operating a machine to produce goods.Soon later Semper published two books that would draw the trajectory of his later work (...)


WR/T/NG from edo to tokyo


The City Tokyo has faced various changes throughout its history. From its beginning as a fishing village at the delta of the Sumida River it grew into a metropolis of a population close to 14 million. Tokyo has played an important geographic as well as symbolic role in the perpetual political race of the Japanese imperial family against Shogun, military rulers from Samurai families. Studying the cities history I grew more and more curious about the fact that the city s name was changed from Edo to Tokyo marking the beginning of a new Era, the Meji period which is often referred to as the modernization of Japan. Linguistically the name Edo "bay entrance" and Tokyo "eastern capital" do not have the same origin. Just from the literal translation a change in importance from a bay area to a capital is obvious but what lays beneath. Why and how did Edo become Tokyo and what were the consequences and influences for this drastic symbolic change? In the following essay I will focus in particular on the development of Tokyo during the 18th and 19th century. In the 16 century the first foreigners enter Japan. Catholic Portuguese missionaries are sent with the effort to start churches and convert Japanese to Christianity. The shogun Nobunaga, the military leader ruling at that time is in favor of missionaries but the situation begins to change under his sucessor Hideyoshi who holds suspicions against Christianity. Once baptized converts are to carry a Portuguese name and encouraged to adopt Western culture. This practice contributed to suspicions that the converts were in reality foreign agents working to subvert social order. Furthermore Hideyoshi well known for his strong military culture and strength is discontented with converted Samurai warriors the highest class in society being animated to change their line of work to become memebers of the lower classes as farmers or artisans. Soon Hideyoshi and the following Tokugawa shogunate will ban Christianity and all western influence and close Japan for over 200 years. In the Shimabara Rebellion of 1637 mostly im-

poverished peasants protesting against high taxes are supported by christian samurai turned farmers in southern Japan. These events trigger the bloody slaughtering of christians in the following years. Foreign religion and western culture is blamed for negatively influence converging on the rebellion of 1637. As a result the shogunate embarks on the installment of a restrictive policy of isolating Japan from any foreign influences called Sakoku "closed country" in 1639 enacted by the Tokugawa shogunate under Tokugawa Iemitsu. A 200 year period of national isolation begins under which no foreigner could enter nor any Japanese could leave the country on penalty of death. No foreign trader can enter Japanese ports. Only Dutch and Chinese are allowed around the Japanese harbor of Nagasaki and their whereabouts are restricted to an isolated artificial island in the bay of Nagasaki called Dejima literally "exit island" built in 1634. Dr. Engelbert Kämpfer was a German Doctor who first provided medical as physician to the dutch trading post in southern Japan . In his book De beschryving van Japan published in 1729 Kämpfer describes the elaborate procession of daimyo lords from all over Japan to edo, the residence of the emperor Tokugawa and the emerging economic capital of Japan. On his way from the isolated island Dejima to Edo Kaempfer recognices the strong roll that the mercantile class plays on the 5 roads, the Gokaido, leading the way to Edo providing food, and residence as well as amusement to the privileged 10%, the samurai families. In describing the wealth of the merchants and the growing group of Ronin, Samurai warriors without a lord and thus besides their privileged status through birth  economically disadvantaged Kaempfer indicated the change in the existing hierarchy. Kaempfer after his journey based in Edo soon becomes of interest to the Shogun Tsunayoshi the 5th Tokugawa ruler. Edo became an economical epicenter for a growing mercantile class. (...)


VUB Viktoria Usui Barbo Portfolio  
VUB Viktoria Usui Barbo Portfolio