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 Bogatá 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.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Volumetric Studies

The brief for the volumetric study was to go beyond thinking of a building as an individual object and take serious consideration about its interaction with its specific context. I chose Site A, Murano, and this involved masterplanning the immediate context around it. The island at the moment is mainly derelict - there are a few warehouses but I learnt from spending time on the island that the majority of the area is overgrown or deserted, hence the reason to create a masterplan.  

After myself and a team of students created this laser cut model of Venice, we split ourselves up to design different areas within the initial masterplan. Within this area I had to choose a site for my building design, illustrated here with a matchstick cube inside my black foam board masterplan.

These series of gifs show my first set of volumetric ideas for suitable scales of development, based on cutting away sections of a solid piece of cardboard. The gif below shows at first: 

1. A 3 storey box, to demonstrate the maximum size of development for the site. 

2. The same box with an overhang in my new proposed courtyard, allowing people to pass under, with a triangular section on the third floor that allows views to the communal garden areas to the north.

3. A bottom heavy design that sets back each level to maximise light 

4. A mixture of 2 and 3, featuring both overhangs and set backs.

This next gif shows the same series of volumetric proposals looking north over the courtyard:

I then started experimenting with the form of the masterplan around the site, moving and rotating sections to create different spaces whilst still keeping the same size floor plates: 

I currently think that this (below) is the best location for the site - it overlooks a courtyard and has views north towards the new Vaporetto link and the communal gardens; and views south over the courtyard and (on the top storey) views looking towards Venice. The same series of volumetric shapes have been placed on the new site to see how well they respond to their immediate environment: 

I was interested to see how my area of the masterplan related to other people's proposals for different areas of the masterplan. I was pleased to see that the (cardboard) section above my (black) section followed the same line, and was of a similar height; albeit with more dense massing. 

From an aesthetic point of view I'm pleased I bought black foamboard rather than white foamboard, as it really contrasts well with the wooden model. The colour of the cardboard also seems to work against both elements, but my final presentations will be of a higher standard. 

Monday, 1 November 2010

Orientation, Prospect and Aspect Part 2

To continue our desktop study, we change our scale to look at individual blocks rather than general plan views. This meant we could look at the particular ways and reasons that buildings were positioned in their surroundings.

I started looking at blocks next to the canal, and quickly spotted a pattern. The blocks were usually orientated perpendicular to the canal, rather than parallel to it. The blocks were also built right up against the water, with flat façades to maximise waterside frontage. This meant the public pathways were positioned inland - you couldn't walk alongside the canal.

Alleys between the terraces allow light into the buildings furthest from the canal. They also allow views of the canal from far inland, so people still feel connected to the waterfront that is so important to Venice.

This study could be then compared to the other two areas of Venice. Murano was very similar to typical Venice but I noticed that a few buildings broke the 'perpendicular to the canal' rule and sat parallel to it.

The buildings highlighted in purple are a church, a hotel and a glass blowing factory. They break the perpendicular rule because they are buildings of importance, and not just generic shop fronts or apartments.

The study of building layouts in Giudecca shows a very different looking diagram. The Giudeccans aren't so precious about their waterfront, setting buildings back to create public walkways along the waterfront. There are lots of open areas, no rows of terraces; but instead communal courtyards and green spaces within residential developments (highlighted in green). 

I then scaled down even more to look at the individual façades within the building blocks. I then separated the building façades with their openings to look more closely at the relationship between the window and door layouts.

What was apparent was the differences between the façades in different areas of the city. The façades in central Venice are much more uniform, more symmetrical and more attention is paid to detailing and craftsmanship. The façades outside central Venice look cheaper, they are more asymmetrical, and it is apparent that a number of later additions, such as windows or balconies, have been made due to numerous different owners in the building's lifetime. 

Most of the façades have large windows in the middle levels, letting the most light into the principle living areas. The top levels are usually bedroom levels, and small windows occupy this level. The bottom floors of Venetian buildings have traditionally been trading floors, so feature large doorways for customers and deliveries. I think the deteriorating paintwork adds to the beauty of these façades - I much prefer the asymmetrical crumbling façades on the outer islands to the very regimented façades of central Venice.  

Orientation, Prospect and Aspect Part 1

The AD3.1 (semester 1) design project was based in Venice. To start the project we split ourselves into groups and shared the site analysis/desktop study between us. My group were given the heading 'Orientation, Prospect and Aspect'. This involved looking at how Venice was built up and was developed, with the idea being that the potential development sites on the islands of Giudecca or Murano could follow these architectural trends.

To start with we selected three areas of Venice: 'Typical Venice', 'Murano' and 'Giudecca'.

We then traced these areas on AutoCAD to make clear diagrams, which also served as a solid and void study:

It was clear from these diagrams that the area in typical Venice is far denser than both Murano and Giudecca. The only thing traced in the diagram is the buildings yet the canal is clearly defined in the centre. The buildings are built right up to the waters edge, as this is where people in the city want to live - they want to be as close to water as possible. The dominance of solid over void is apparent, as is in some areas of the main (south) island of Murano. Further away from this island however, development gets more sparse. Giudecca is the least built up of the three areas. It seems to be that the most developed sites in Giudecca are on the north of the island, facing Venice; and the least developed are on the south side, facing the lagoon. 

An interesting diagram we then produced shows buildings and the land out of context. Note that the buildings follow the line of the land, north-west to south-east, and aren't orientated to any specific sun path, for instance.

This will benefit the design process because I know (that if I design by water) that the buildings are usually built right up to the edge, as this is where most people want to live.

We then looked at density visuals taken out of plan format, to assess typical views from a point in each area of Venice. Of course these are only typical views, but we felt they were useful so the observer could establish a general visual language for the areas.

The red highlights buildings closer than 5m, orange highlights buildings closer than 10m and the yellow represents buildings further than 10m. The diagrams clearly display that the shallow depth of view in central Venice means there is little room for development. Murano has room for growth further away from the canals and Giudecca has the most scope for development, shown by the deep field of view (quantity of yellow) in the diagrams.

The diagrams also highlight the heights of buildings - showing taller developments in central Venice (favourable locations for people to live) and shorter buildings on Giudecca, typically warehouses and low-rise apartments.