Layers and Folds

The building changed throughout the day with the varying conditions. The surface of the structure seemed to breath with expansion and contraction with the changing sun, temperature, windflow, and changing use. The individuals in the structure in early morning were different or doing different things than those in the afternoon and evening. What appeared to be a slender structure in the early hours transformed into a squat building with various apertures on the east and west sides. These openings were like grilles, venting the interior spaces in the evening breeze. Most buildings stand static with systems that support and compensate for the changes within. This building changes for the uses and conditions that are scheduled or natural at the given hours and seasons.

The structure is a manifold of pliant, fabric surfaces that move and fold for the given use. The layers are oriented with their broad sides to the north and south, and their edges face to the east and west to accept the prevailing winds. The north surface is rather transparent, relative to the south facade, which is translucent in areas and opaque in others. The north facade pushes outward as the day progresses, and the south face starts vertical and extends outward at the top of the elevation and tapers as it descends. This slope prevents the majority of the sun from infiltrating the southern side, but it opens the rooftop and highest points of the structure to more sun. To counter this, the northern facade top edge migrates to the south, nearly meeting the southern facade, and the next southern interior layer extends upward and bends the the north to create a brise soleil.

In the early morning, the east and west facades of the base are narrow and slender, because of the limited number of people entering the structure. As the day moves forward, the structure expands like a bag or balloon with increasing users and the changing environmental conditions. Initially, they appear like folded sheets oriented vertically, while they open and contort through the day, like a pleated paper hat that moves and refolds with a moving head. Some layers expand to create openings, some fold to limit exposure. The edges of these are opaque and become transparent as they extend toward the interior. Some pleats have incisions and openings that do not close to allow access to the exterior.

The interior is accessed via two massive cores that slant toward the south, like horns. The cores carry the users and also the load of the facades and structure like hanging garments on a rack. Though the building moves and changes, these cores stay in one place and only their skins change with the building’s use. Elevators and stairwells open to the same elevations no matter the orientation and disposition of the building and its spaces. The adjoining spaces move and alter like living organs within the body of the building. The geometry of these spaces closely follows the forms of sheets that expand and contract with the contents. Spars move forward and back to accommodate these spatial changes. Some of the spars are hinged like those on a boat, and some of the others are on articulated arms that translate in space.

The layers of the structure and the floors are continuous. This creates a small curvilinear transition at both the north and south facades, while the continuous ribbonlike facades and floors are like “U’s, ” with their bottoms or bases never extending lower, but their upper edges pushing upward with contraction and downward with expansion. So, the geometry accepts and meets the use, but allows more dynamism with facades slipping in elevation. This slipping of the layers creates new, interrelated spaces that span across the valences and contract into stacked layers. At times there are mezzanines and passages between, and at other moments there are narrow hallways and stacked surfaces. Circulation among the floors is consistent within and along the cores but evolving through the spaces and among the stacked layers.

The changing spaces of the structure require flexible furniture and users, as the spaces must mutate to meet the use. Therefore most furniture is on casters, and the pieces are manipulated by the users as the day proceeds and the building changes. At times the floor surface becomes wall surface, and rooms disappear into the fold. The change is slow but continuous, and the interior spaces are secured with sensors to ensure the users are not packed or enmeshed in the moving layers and laminations.

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