Thursday, 30 December 2010

Music Therapy Centre 1

This blog entry features my pin-up music therapy centre proposal. 

The design of the building appears quite simple... the toilets/plant room are all stacked in the corner of the site, as is the circulation. The ground floor is public space, with a performance space that is open to the adjoining courtyard. 

The three therapy rooms are on the upper two levels, and have neighbouring one-way mirrors for observation of therapy sessions. 

On the first floor is a staff and student workshop. Speaking to music therapists, I was told that most of their time is not in fact spent in therapy sessions but rather consulting psychologists, psychiatrists and other music therapists about patients. Watching video footage, presentations and sound recordings, as well as teaching music therapy students required a large space so this is provided in the first floor.

Another thing I learnt from therapists was that instrument/equipment storage was very important, due to some patients reacting negatively to drum kits/gongs etc. Simple shelves in therapy rooms can store small percussion instruments, but I have set aside a storage area in the third level for larger instruments. 

Next to the staircase is a small internal courtyard, which patients are greeted with as they arrive at the first floor. I had hoped to continue this courtyard down to the ground floor but there simple was not enough space for a reception desk and ground floor circulation. Having moved it up a level, I am pleased with the fact the general public do not see it... only patients and their friends/families.

The two sections below show circulation quite well, but I need to draw another section that better shows the therapy rooms.

Presently I am considering an in-situ concrete construction, with timber panelling signalling breaks in the fa├žade, and public waiting areas. Note the tree in the image above, hinting a route for pedestrians through the building. The wide panoramic window on the ground floor lets light in behind the stage.

The image above shows the performance space open and closed. When open, it allows the general public to view performances, and it closes at night for security. The image below shows just how large the opening would be, as seen from the stage:

Further development of this room is required - concrete walls opposite each other create so much reverberation problems, so I need to design angled walls (more constatina style timber panels) to bounce sound around better. I plan to keep the floor stone, so there is little transition between outside and inside. The lemon tree in the background would offer free lemons to all who pass it. 

Waiting areas. Music therapy session last about 1.5 hours. Friends and family are expected to be close by with some patients, so they would require nearby waiting areas. I have included a waiting area on the first, second and third floors (the third floor being the rooftop terrace). Sofas, bookcases, coffee tables, magazines, and views north west over the communal gardens. The image below is the first floor waiting area, which I need to populate with chairs.

And the next image is the rooftop terrace idea, which needs materiality (timber floor panels and timber balustrades). The relationship between the timber and concrete could be quite interesting.

The feedback from the pinup:

Wall thickness's, fire protect the stairs, improve quality of therapy spaces (i.e. timber panelling, backlit, new floor design), make concrete components tactile, including a concrete model, draw interior elevations maybe hidden doors for the dark rooms, 'rooms need to be friendlier... like an old instrument'.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Interdisciplinary Project - Design Week

This week I had been involved in a design project with students of landscape architecture, human geography and project management. The brief was simple - find a function for Fearn Island (below) that will help draw people down to the River Aire, a well-developed but thoroughly under-populated area of Leeds.

The site was an unusual shape and the only access was via the lock just next to the Royal Armouries (see my Royal Armouries blog post). We decided between us that a link via the existing bridge was a suitable way of entering the island. The landscape students quickly got to work on designing an array of different vegetation and pathways, seen on this image:

One problem we soon learned was the flood history of Fearn Island, illustrated in the image below. Whatever we decided to design on the island, it would have to withstand the flooding.

We decided that we wanted to use sport to promote the island. We spent a while pondering over kayak racing, rubber duck 'racing' events that would bring large numbers of people to the area not very often, but we decided it was best to design something permanent for the island to attract visitors. Finding a sport that would work on such a long, narrow site was tricky. We dismissed archery (health and safety) and jousting (this already exists close by at the Royal Armouries).

Eventually we decided that a rope-walking course could work on the site. A 'Go Ape' style course could cater for anything from childrens' parties to stag dos due to the flexibility of the rope walking courses. We did some research on the sizes and features (bridges, nets, zip lines etc) of rope walking courses:

The common structural feature were the tall columns that supported all of the rope bridges and nets around them. The advantage to using tall vertical columns on Fearn Island was that in the event of flooding, the main building/usable space would be well above ground level. The storage for all the equipment could be housed in one of the existing warehouses on site - this structure could even be raised up to protect it from high river levels. My job was to create the visuals, which I did in the last two days of the week. I wanted the columns to be at different heights, sculptural, and be adaptable to different course layouts.

Our design was praised for its simplicity. No water, electricity or services of any kind would have to be built because there would be no real building on the site. It was also praised for its flooding strategy... of no flooding strategy. If the river floods then the course would not be used; but it would also not be damaged. The potential was also highlighted - zip lines over the river to end the course and some sort of lighting scheme in the cylinders to promote the space at night were mentioned. As concept images go I feel my visuals are quite self explanatory - two environments - a public park below with people swinging about on ropes above. 

Our group quickly bonded after the initial ideas stage. We were all enthusiastic about the idea of a 'Go Ape' course - and I think this helped us work together well. 

The landscape students were keen to plan the percentage of deciduous and coniferous plants, and where they were grown, what seasons they were in bloom etc. This bemused me and the other architecture student, as it was a bit too much detail for a concept design. The human geography students did not feel suited to a design project - they said they did not do anything like this in their course, but they were always keen to lend a hand and were useful in the research stage, the desktop study. The project management students were good at managing, although the rest of our group were annoyed and a bit embarrassed when they decided to rename Fearn Island 'Adventure Island' without consulting us about it. This may have been because they did not play a part in the design stage so felt they had to do something creative. It may have also been because their PowerPoint design was particularly uninspiring and overly-wordy so we voted to summarise it into simple image/diagram/bullet point format, and the creative among us (landscape & architecture students) redesigned it to a presentable standard. 

We all enjoyed the brief, working with students from different courses from the initial ideas to concept image design, but felt the last day was a bit rushed so our presentation was not quite as planned as it could have been. i.e. it ran over the time limit and some of the points were a bit over-explained so that everyone had something to say in the presentation. We all liked the design though, and I'll be biased and say it was certainly the most fun design in the competition.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Revised Masterplan

The main criticism of my masterplan was that, although it was based on average Venetian proportions, the overall layout could be built in Leeds, in Manchester, London etc. It didn't look specific to Venice, so I had to adjust it to look like it had grown over time.

To begin this study, I cut out (to scale) building blocks from central Venice and overlaid them as best I could over the top of my old masterplan:

I experimented overlaying these shapes with each other and with the old masterplan, in every possible combination:

I settled on this layout, combining the shapes of the central left with the old masterplan in the centre:

The darker areas in the image above are where the two set shapes overlap. I liked the grey routes through the site, the chicanes, the fact there was no straight route from A to B. Following on from this, I re-drew the AutoCAD file:

The language is the same as the old masterplan - grey represents residential development, orange the commercial/retail (shops and bars) and the pink shows a new community centre. The winding paths through the site show up more clear on this diagram, a feature that was very apparent when walking through the street of Venice.

I then sketched down some shadow studies of the central courtyards. I like how the dark pathways open up into light courtyards, an experience I enjoyed in Venice:

I then sketched some of the views within these spaces, at human level. It's amazing how a couple of trees and people can add so much life to a space:

Although not exactly a maze, I wanted the spaces between the blocks to bit a bit confusing so people would accidently explore courtyards and spaces that they had not intended to at the start of their journey.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Volumetric Studies Part 4

My second pin up sheet tomorrow describes the process of the individual building site I have chosen within the masterplan. Heading the sheet will be a series of 12 cardboard models:

... and then the three designs I have developed with wooden models:

Similar to the masterplan sheet, I'm combining different media to show the whole design process. These sketches were ideas that I then chose to construct out of cardboard:

The image below shows the stepped idea (sketch above, top right) flipped on its head to create an open space below. Part of the fun of the design process was twisting and turning the initial twelve models to see if the same shape could fit the site in a different way:

I then looked at some inspiration for 'riads', internal courtyards, which I am keen to include in my design to add light into the back of the building. The image on the left is from Bogat├í University in Columbia, by Daniel Bonilla Architects, which I admire because of the transparency in the materials as well as the courtyard (surprisingly) not being open to the elements. The image on the right is a trauma centre in Sri Lanka. I appreciate the simple colours being enhanced by the greenery, and the desire to explore the different levels:

I then created 3d computer models of a smaller internal courtyard, as simple concept images: 

They show different levels sharing the same open space in the heart of the building, promoting the theme of community.

I also wanted a fourth level roof terrace, a shaded area without walls, to offer great views south over Venice, so I produced another concept image showing this:

I then placed the models in the site to show how they relate to their surroundings:




I then created computer models and inhabited them with people to give a sense of scale for each proposal:

The first scheme created a cantilever for people to pass beneath, between the communal gardens (north) and the courtyards (south). The cantilever is very linear, suggesting direction for people below. There is a semi-roofed area on the first floor facing the gardens, and closes off the courtyard.

My second development features the first floor pushed back from the courtyard, and the ground floor pushed out slightly to create more room for the internal courtyard. The shape of the building opens up to the gardens.

My third idea uses the wall on the right as a pivot to create three floors all stepping further away from the initial footprint. This increases the size of the courtyard, but makes the building quite top heavy.

The wood I am working with is too small a scale to carve out the internal courtyards, but they would be positioned in the top corner of the models. I expect to start designing at scale 1:100 (as opposed to 1:250) in the next stage of the design process. 

Volumetric Studies Part 3

All work in this post is to be presented tomorrow for a critical review.

I think it's important to show all parts of the design process, and not just the finalised plans, so visiting tutors can see my process of working towards a final solution, and can offer advice or critique about my steps along the way. I'll start off tomorrow with my initial sketches, where I am experimenting with layouts of the masterplan:

The main focus of my presentation sheet will be on the AutoCAD masterplan, which shows the masterplan in the surrounding context.:

Beneath this will be a series of computer models, to help establish a three dimensional sense of the new spaces:

My final sheet is too large a file size to upload to this blog site, but I think it shows clearly the processes I went through and the reasons behind each design decision, from initial sketches to CAD models and 3D views.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Site Model

It's taken a few days but the site model is looking quite good. The model is necessary to show each of the proposals from everyone designing masterplans on Murano. Buildings are not glued down to the base so they can be easily taken off and then replaced with other student's individual schemes.

The model shows an area of Murano on the right; and across the canal, most of the island of Serenella, at a scale of 1:250, which works out as size 2A0.

All the wooden elements were laser cut, a process that involved using the AutoCAD file of the area to create layers and layers of the same building footprint that were then glued together. The black edges on buildings were burns from the laser cutter, and we decided on a white acrylic base to contrast with this.

Everyone in the studio thinks this contrast looks quite good, and certainly lets it photograph quite well:

Our current thoughts are to varnish the base to create a more even colour, due to the different colours of wood being used. We don't want the base to distract from the masterplans on top of it.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Volumetric Studies Part 2

I continued my volumetric studies by looking at the way the building form interacts with the courtyard. I experimented with intruding the courtyard space, withdrawing from the courtyard space, and creating passages through the building, north to south; in a series of six models.

The common theme was tucking the building into the corner created by my masterplan around it. The designs are also a lot more linear than my first set of volumetric ideas. However as my masterplan develops, so will my design for the site. 

I feel the most successful proposal at this stage is this design (below) that creates more courtyard space to the south but also creates a courtyard level on the first floor looking north. The three storey block on the east is hidden when viewed from the courtyard, making the building seem a lot smaller and less bulky than it actually is.

This could be the design that I develop in the next part of the brief.