Friday, 17 December 2010

Project 'Habitat' 3. Result

Constructive structure of the building – monolith, reinforced concrete outer walls 200mm and 200 and 150mm inner walls.
One column 200x200mm in the middle of living zone supports large span (7500mm) roof construction – timber beam.
Concrete – good material for sculptural purpose and it makes load bearing constructions as thin as possible.

'Slate - a metamorphic rock type that splits easily in one preferred direction and is highly impermeable at
right angles to the cleavage planes' Professor Rob Duck
Slate is the most typical roof material at Kenmore. I used this material to make building fitting in regional context, because of good technical qualities of this material and with sustainable approach – to
use local material.

1. Concrete (recycled) wall
2. Natural and local insulation (hemp wool, sheep wool)
3. Concealed gutter
4. 5. Slate panels for roof and walls
6. Window head panel
7. Window sill panel

The interior of the house is painted in white as contrast to dark gray exterior. White colour makes inner spaces more spacious.
The contrast as way of expression is very important in the design of this house. Contrast between outer - inner, building and local architecture (in same time respect local context) and between inhabitant's lifestyles.
Common feature – clients are strong, individualistic persons. Therefore materials are simple, natural and functional.

Section shows some sustainable solutions, for example:
*‘Massive’ roof and wall’s cover with slate panels provide
good ‘thermal inertia’ - house slowly accumulate heat and
and conduct to inner space.
*Rainwater collecting for reuse.
*Natural ventilation with heat recuperation.
*Windows are located according to views and insolation.
*Heated concrete walls and floors.
*Thermal heat pumps with energy gathering from a lake.

N elevation

E elevation

SW elevation

View from local road over Loch Tay

View from Pier road

Interior view - living room

Interior view - Bella's area

...see more images at STUDY WORKS.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Project 'Habitat' 2. Process

From the very beginning of presence at Kenmore and the first sketches I have thought about relationships between my design and its surroundings – local townscape, the lake and the hills.

In the book ' Thinking Architecture', Peter Zumthor writes, that architecture that is made entirely only from tradition and by dictates of its site is false and without connection to contemporary world. Whereas architectural design speaks only contemporary approach without sense of its site, this design does not fit in its environment and has not found its place.
I found very important to follow this idea and pay close attention to the dialogue between projected house and the environment where it sits and to find a balance between these extremes.

The most important aspect in the process of designing my idea was clients. Their needs, habits and life style is totally different, therefore I decided build my idea on something which represents these contraries. The first sketches shows very ordinary scheme – living volume along the street side and perpendicular volume for common needs. 

In process of sketching crystallises the idea about triangular form of the house's plan with functional argument – individualistic inhabitants need separate space. Each of 3 inhabitants could accommodate another (their own) 'corner' of the house.   

For me designing always starts from plans - to locate functions and get notion about scale

Volumetric model: blue colour – Tony, green - Bella, red – Tracy, yellow – common area,
black – garage and technical room.

This is base of further countless transformations in ground floor plan.

Triangular form in a plan is simple and strong and it demands strongly articulated 3rd dimension - walls, roofs, elevations.

The first sketches had very simple, static and
conventional design.

Triangular form in plan is dynamic – 3 corners pull form each to another direction. It demands dynamic in the 3rd dimension too.

In process of designing form I worked with models to gain

proportions and dynamic and dialogue with surrounding environment.

The main idea of this solution was getting better insolation in

deep living space simultaneously avoiding over shining.

Insolation in Tracy's and living area
on the SW side of the house

SW elevation 

E elevation

Insolation in Tony's and Bella's area
on the E side of the house

Weak point of this solution is rhythm of openings which makes the

whole volume more fragile and flimsy. 

And then I got final solution - where Tracy's volume get 

analogue form as two storey volume where live Tony and Bella. 

Argument – high space for artist needs.


Final stage - two solutions for form and location of openings. 



More static solution

More dynamic solution

And the winner is... dynamic solution with spontaneously located 


Sunday, 21 November 2010

Project 'Habitat' 1. Brief

Last Friday we had interim presentation of our design project 'Habitat'. For me it was a possibility to self estimate my ability to present my design and get feedback from more than 1 person (tutor) – there was 2 tutors, 3rd year student and peers as well.
Just day before I collected my design info and tried to get out from my laptop as much as possible, I decided that my struggling with the form of the building is finished. It was very long and not too much time left till the final review – just 2 weeks. And I have so many things to do more. But... after the presentation I am changing my design again! Why? Because something does not satisfies neither tutor nor me. The whole form or one particular part of the roof? The position and form of windows? What else?
In this post I would like to show the evolution of my idea and by the way, optimise the textual part of my presentation.

The main aspects of my design are: site analysis, clients and  architecture precedents.

Firstly, site.
Kenmore is a small village on the coast of Loch Tay surrounded by hills of Breadalbane. The building site is located on a peninsula and this location is very visible from entire surroundings, moreover best views are seen particularly from this site. The best view is on Ben Lawers over the north side of Loch Tay, which is a bit under height of 4000 feet.

Kenmore has a quite long and significant history. For example, the Kenmore Hotel which was built in 1572 and probably is the oldest inn in Scotland. The local architecture consists mostly of dwelling houses built from the end of the 18th century till nowadays. Common feature for most of the old buildings is double pitch roofs with very steep slope - about 60 degrees. Houses that are built in last decades uses less slope - about 45 degrees.

Second aspect is clients.
My virtual clients of this project are very interesting persons. They are: businessmen Tony (Soprano), student Bella (Twilight) and artist Tracy (Tracy Emin).

Last aspect - precedents.
These precedents represent different style of architecture and different features whose I decided to analyse.
First is Walsh house designed by British minimalist John Pawson. This precedent is significant with strong respect of local context because village has tight planning restrictions in the interest of preserving towns historical character.
Form of the building is very modest and pure, plans - logic and clear.

Next precedent is Y house designed by Steven Holl. It represents separating day – night, public - private activities – as result it is consist from two volumes with different functions whose intertwine from upstairs to downstairs creating a different  domestic movements.


Third precedent Mobius house designed by Ben van Bercel interweaves the various activities of people's life into one structure - work, socialising, family and individual time. I choose Mobius house to analyse daily circulation through the house and separating functions.

Monday, 8 November 2010

And the winner is...

... Kengo Kuma & associates. Its entry was unanimously chosen from six shortlisted proposals. Well, it seems that the choice has made in favour of the most pompous proposal to get another Bilbao effect. The winner proposal embodies qualities of architecture in the pre-crisis time. It is more tended to result (V&A museum exhibitions) than process (design in action).
Of course, I hope Dundee will gain notability in world design's arena and museum will be good contribution of achieving it.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

The new V&A at Dundee building

I decided to take a part and make my opinion about 6 short listed designs made by world famous architecture offices. I visited both the exhibition and the website and each of them gave me different insight. It is not easily to analyse so complicated building projects, especially if you are just the 1st year architecture student. 
So I put limit on just some, the most important of those functional key attributes given in questionnaire at the exhibition and on the website and asked to rank those from most important to least important. Of course I have not forgot about visual aspect – I add one my attribute – visual corresponding of building to its function and environment (the city and its surroundings). Architecture as local mark.
Here it is – 5 attributes and my estimation for 6 proposals (1 = the best solution; 6 = the worst solution) as well some significant close-ups in proposals. At the end – the sum of all marks.

A. Easy to explore (I would extend this attribute to - 'functional using').

  1. Delugan Meissl
Compact solution – all public rooms placed around vertical circulation, good transparency from each part of the building. 
  1. Kengo Kuma & Associates
Thrilling but not to easy to explore. Impressive solution for world class museum, but inflexible for up to date multifunctional design centre. 
  1. REX
Effective solution for exploring a variety of exhibitions, workshops and entertaining zones placed on 4 levels around central core with logical sequencing of different functions – marshaling level, civic l., creative l. and finally exhibition level.

Comparison between typical circulation and Hub-and-spoke in REX proposal
  1. Snøhetta
Excellent solution to explore all public spaces on one level. 
  1. Steven Holl
Easy to explore each level separately but there are functional difficulties to use this building as a whole, because of intercrossing so many functions and because of lack of boundaries between them, for example restaurant and creative learning on the 3th level. 
  1. Sutherland Hussey Architects
This is the most complicated proposal in terms of functional using therefore could be difficulties to explore all public spaces without confusions. I suppose that main causes are: a lack of core, variety of space height in one level and a lot of different staircases and their position. 

7 (!) staircases in proposal of Sutherland Hussey Architects

B. Eating /drinking area

  1. Delugan Meissl 

Far way to the eating/drinking area – impressive path of steps and ramps climbs to the 2nd level ('brasserie') and 3rd level (restaurant). Unfortunately this proposal has not outside recreation area, including some outdoor part of café. Just gigantic stairs. It is big minus for so important public building. Location of wine bar – accidental. In section has been seen some stairs to outside terrace, but in plan I do not find this info. 
  2. Kengo Kuma & Associates

Very good location of restaurant and bar&café on different floors with different outer areas for enjoying different views. Restaurant has 2 entrances (quite far way inside and separate entrance from outside) what makes it more independent and exclusive. The best proposal from recreation point of view.  

The signature restaurant with view to river Tay in Kenzo Kuma & Asoc. proposal

3. REX
Good location of restaurant on ground level with logic place of entrance, best views (both to the South and to the West) and with large outer area. More democratic café/ brassiere placed on 1st floor with view to the river. Ibidem near attractive counter around a void to restaurant on ground floor. 

4. Snøhetta 
Logic locations of eating/drinking areas. The most democratic brasserie situated in the centre of building on gallery level beside main hall - by the way to all directions. Bar is deepened with counter along glazing with view to the South. Restaurant is located on main – entrance level with terrace. Shortage – location of restaurant on south side without the view to the city and romantic sunset. 

5. Steven Holl

Effective places for eating/drinking areas with impressive views to the city from 23m and 40m heights. Minus – location of restaurant below traffic zone and probable windy conditions on open terraces. Attractive floating artificial island with summer café. 

6. Sutherland Hussey Architects 
Good idea to locate eating/drinking area separately from bustle in foyer with framed views to both city and Newport over river. But fact that it is placed between staircase on one side and passage on another makes it quite dark and feeling of Dundee's industrial past is guaranteed. 

C. External appearance/external space
    1. Delugan Meissl
    This proposal put emphasis on sculptural pomposity not on appearance. See also: B. Eating /drinking area. Not distinguish between public space and delivery access. External space without any substance - elements of environmental design.  

    2. Kengo Kuma & Associates.
    Very good external appearance with spacious recreational area with various various elements of environmental design. Interesting access of supply – bridge over pool.

    Saturated recreational space of Kenzo Kumas's proposal

    3. REX
    Good external appearance that is solved into tight conformity with public space of surrounding waterfront. It is not only footbridge to design centre but wholesome public space with various elements of environmental design. Minus - there is no separation between public space and delivery access.  

    Relationship between V&A public space and Waterfront Masterplan in REX proposal

    4. Snøhetta
    Excellent external appearance that is exciting event from the beginning of pathway. Intelligent solution of delivery. Will it work when building will be built? 
     Schemes of connections and accesses in Snøhetta proposal

    5. Steven Holl
    External appearance is solved really like footbridge to ship or airport gate. Fascinating and frightening. This building is not for disabled persons.  

    Unuseful for disabled persons and supply footbridge in Steven Holl's proposal 

    1. Sutherland Hussey Architects
    Good solution of external appearance – promenade with useful ramps for disabled persons in wheelchairs. Good solution for delivery access – separate under foot way. 

    D. Sustainability

    1. Delugan Meissl
    Miserable fact – I could not find any feature of sustainable solutions used in this proposal. For instance, there is not daylight using for galleries, just skylight in atrium.  

    2. Kengo Kuma & Associates.
    This proposal shows some good sustainable solutions: Its operate with natural ventilation through gaps between concrete elements and daylight diffusion through skylights – sidelights for galleries. Still, external construction are shown very thin. Consequently, there will be big thermal loses. Proposal seems very expensive, too.


    Very thin layer of roof construction in Kengo Kuma's proposal

    3. REX
    The best proposal regarding to sustainability. Well considered solutions of daylight insolation and natural ventilation for all program areas, solar and rainwater collecting, economic use of area and, I hope effective solutions for reducing thermal loads. 1

    Conspicuous scheme of sustainable approach in REX proposal

    4. Snøhetta 
    Very sustainable proposal with solutions of taking energy directly from tidal movement of the Tay (seems unbelievable), effective daylight using through out glass outer façade and through holes (likewise shark gills) in the roof. Blinding of glass skin could be problematic for drivers and neighbours. Economic using of inner space.  


     Daylight holes in form of shark gills in Snøhetta proposal.

    5. Steven Holl

    In proposal has been seen a lot of sustainable solutions, like using local materials, using geothermal energy for heating and cooling, river propelled turbines and solar panels on the roof for electricity, daylight control etc. However, building has energy inefficient form – big outer surface to relatively small useful area.  

    Variety of sustainable solutions in Steven Holl's proposal

    6. Sutherland Hussey Architects 
    There are some good sustainable solutions, like effective daylight using for galleries and double façade of cast glass lantern that theoretically could reduce thermal loads. However there is nothing about air changing inside of the building in cl. natural ventilation. 

    E. Visual aspect

    1. Delugan Meissl

    Visual quality of this proposal is in his airy fluttering. Supporting part of the building is significantly smaller then rest huge mass of artificial 'stone'. It makes feeling of non interrupted horizontal line. But it is too monumental and seems more concert hall than design centre.  

    Significant effect of non interrupted horizontal line in Delugan Meissl proposal

    2. Kengo Kuma & Associates.
    Strong concept of 'open public hall' sympathise to me, but its not corresponding to its main function – design centre. It is too big for local scale.  

    3. REX
    This proposal is very majestic, like stormy sea. Concept of Bluebell – convincing. The most impressive is his tectonic – coherent construction what makes form of the building modest and effective simultaneously. It pays attention but not screaming. 

    Effective visual language of REX proposal

    4. Snøhetta
    Design of this proposal is totally 21st century organic architecture. It reflecting future design. It is very delicate to environment and fit in it. It really looks like design laboratory - floating laboratory. Unfortunately this proposal has not visual local mark qualities. Shining with shimmering reflected light is not enough. 
    5. Steven Holl

    This is opposite proposal to Snohetta. Its scale is enormous. Its proportions make it unreal. It embodies big ambitions. Maybe it is something what need to ambition city? Impressive is night visualisation with city in background. New building has good relationships with urban silhouette of the city. 

    V&A and urban silhouette of the city in Steven Holl proposal

    6. Sutherland Hussey Architects

    Visual image is created in traditions of constructivism. Building looks very industrial, massive and complicated. In the same time there is good contrast between robust lower part and airy and transparent upper part. Red painted internal surface of 'grotto' gives life to this building. It is very local building with its rhythm of piles.  

    Significant dark 'grotto' in Sutherland Hussey Architects's proposal  

    Results: sum of all marks
    1. Delugan Meissl 24
    2. Kengo Kuma & Associates 20
    3. REX 10
    4. Snøhetta 10
    5. Steven Holl 19
    6. Sutherland Hussey Architects 22
    As result, my sympathies are divided between REX and Snøhetta. In my opinion both proposals are embodied qualities of responsible, sustainable, intelligent and up to date architecture. They are clear and coherent in terms of manner of presentation and delivering a message to an observer. Finally I vote for REX, because its design is little bit more significant and considerable than Snøhetta's.
    All images taken from