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18APR 2012

C-Strip / A-ngine+Improved

Posted in Architecture - Mixed use by A-ngine

The CStrip is best described by an attempt to translate the environmental qualities of the proposed site into a meaningful architectural geometry that can accomodate and maximize the performance of an adaptive and fluctuating programme which focuses on producing and distributing information through the use of informal societal behaviour. The developement and subsequent use of different computational techniques allowed for the collage of the several dimensions of environmental and programmatic datascape into a finite three dimensional architectural object. The project evolved into two systems which cater to two different requirements: the areas which required adaption are empowered by a flexible system of interlocking umbrellas which can fold and unfold individually and comprise energy harvesting systems such as greywater extraction and photovoltaics, based on locally sensed conditions; the areas which emerged as having no need for physical adaption are hosted inside a cracked landscape with punctuated apertures whose geometry result from the ventilation and lighting conditions required by the program underneath.

By thus splitting the process into two individual parts, we were able to maintain the local topological qualities of the site while at the same time we enhanced them without disrupting the existing local circulation flows and visual parameters. Data was collected and investigated through different techniques regarding the crucial parameters influencing our programme. Thus, the windspeed and solar insolation grid was processed with the help of Ecotect. The visibility analysis, crucial for our later functional distribution was explored in DepthMap. The traffic density was developed using an elaborated circulation analysis programmed in Processing/Java, whose starting parameters were informed by local observations of pedestrian and bycicle flows in different key points of the site. The detailed programme description underwent a series of evolutionary changes which were based on the interpretation of the given assignement in relation with existing conditions and as well as a macro-analysis at an urban level and subsequent scale detailing of the aforementioned process.

Thus, we shifted from an information distribution centric set of functions to a leisure-oriented setup which would favour not only the spread of data, but would actually become a place for the creation of new information through informal social mechanics. Given our rather complex functional list, we devised a system which would be able to properly place the mentioned programmes throughout the site's layered informational and geometric landscape. Thus, each programme was assigned different environmental requirements, such as affinity to high density traffic or dislike of windy spots. This we summed up as a special fitness function by which we could evaluate each point on the site and find the optimum placement. Furthermore, inner rules were devised to accomodate the behaviour of the functions in relation to each other - for example, indoor sports activities tend to cluster together but try to avoid auditoriums. Theathers like the company of cafe's, which in turn are attracted by auditoriums and so forth.

Thus, the balancing of all these parameteres was entrusted to a swarm-logic based process implemented in Processing/Java. The system reached equilbrium in different states, which could be summed up into three main families. Each was evaluated individually for maximizing performance. Performance was defined in terms of qualities of topological spaces produced, required connections in between the functional clusters as well as total enveloped area (thermal hull). Once reaching a final setup, we redid the traffic analysis to take into account the new additions to the campus. The resulting patterns were normalized to maximize both connectivity and usage.

Thus, a new pedestrian and cyclist infrastructure was generated which later served as the base for the geometric grid which would later deform to accomodate the functions. Architectural constraints were taken into account by defining minimum and maximum volumes for each programmatic function. This voxelization allowed us to mantain control of required volumes and allowed for a logical generation of the cracked landscape. The final functional placement was translated into "voxels", or three dimensional pixels, each represting a different function. The overlay of winter and summer distributions (resulting from different environmental conditions) revealed the neccessary "fixed" parts of the landscape as well as the areas in need of adaption and sheltering. The final process overlay of the project: functional voxels, normalized circulation, the deformed grid adapting to the new infrastructure, the final fixed landscape, the static structural system and the adaptive system.

Though seemingly linear, this process encompasses different non-linear and adaptive sub-processes. One of our goals was to maintain the adaption rate to a minimum and place in the right positions, both in terms of environmental-conscious thinking as well as in order to reduce maintenance-heavy elements. The final adaptive structural system is composed of a folding umbrella-like mechanism that can adapt and perform in various conditions. While sheltering from rain, it can collect greywater and channel it to processing facilities. Sun energy can be harvested through the use of intelligent fabric-system with embedded electrochromic materials. The flexible mechanical part allows for smart differentiated unfolding which would allow for sheltering from wind.

The solid structural system remains true to the landscape visual aspect and tries to encompass as well as possible the complex programmatic needs from within - functions that need to be separated both visually and acoustically from each other required separation walls which are loadbearing as well..

Design team:
Dimitrie Stefanescu [www.improved.ro] & Patrick Bedarf [www.a-ngine.com]



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