Designed using Revit 2019 and Rhino 6 rendered in Revit 2019
Rendering post-production done in photoshop
Wetter, Hotter Summer
This condensed summer studio focused on climate conditions in Austin, Texas. Through site visits to Snake Island located in Lady Bird Lake in Austin, students were to design a youth hostel which was comfortable for guests year-round without the use of electricity. Students combined passive heating and cooling elements with sensory experiences observed during the site visit to create their final design. Program requirements included: bunk sleeping space for 6, two private rooms to sleep two people each, a double height communal space, a communal kitchen, a washroom, and leisure activities for guests.
Snake Island is located in Lady Bird Lake in Austin, Texas. The climate is hot and semi-humid but the island features mature trees which offer natural shade. During our site visit in July, water and soil temperatures averaged 82 degrees in the shade. I analyzed the site in two ways: qualitative and quantitative elements. Quantitatively, average temperatures were hot during the summer but natural wind patterns provided easy breezes which were cooled by passing over the water in the lake. Qualitatively, the island had an 'unfound' quality. The textures under foot and under hand were rough and natural: soil and twigs under foot with rough bark and overgrown bushes under hand. Because of the shape and orientation of the island in the water, the approach to the island's entrance led to the island 'revealing' itself to me as I approached from the southwest side. These were qualities I wanted to carry through to my final design.
It was important for me to break down my sensory experience of the site into different types of experiences and use those to drive my design. The first type of sensory experience I explored was an emotional experience. Through my time approaching and exploring the island which our hostel would be located, I had an overwhelming sense of discovery. To understand this, I determined which aspects of my tangible sensory experience contributed to my emotional sensory experience and the feeling of discovery. I concluded that conceal and reveal moments caused by the shape and orientation of the island and the heavy tree coverage, uneven ground and elevation changes while walking around the island, rough and unrefined textures beneath my feet and my hands, and the abundance of birds inhabiting the island were all tactile, auditory, or visual experiences which could be identified and combined to create my sense of discovery. I wanted my hostel design to respect the unfound nature of the island and I wanted my guests to feel as if they were discovering the island for the first time despite an established structure existing there. To convey the feeling of discovery in my hostel, I employed the same tangible sensory experiences I concluded led to my emotional sensory experience during my time on the island. To keep the space cool during the summer, warm during the winter, and to make the smallest visual impact on the island, I carved the hostel into the earth and sunk the northern walls into the ground. Because of where guests would approach and access the island, this kept the hostel hidden from sight until guests arrived at the front door of the space. To maintain the uneven feeling of traversing the island, I programmatically changed floor elevations depending on space use. The main communal space in the heart of the hostel was sunken further into the ground than any other floor level. The beds in the private rooms were also sunken below the floor plate. In the shower area, guests would enter through a curtain of water falling from the ground plane and onto the floor of the sunken bathroom similar to a cave and waterfall. Once inside the space, guests into a shower/steam room. I wanted to challenge myself to find a way to passively cool the space beyond just passively keep it from heating up. To achieve this, I designed an evaporative cooling wall along the south side of the space. Similar to a swamp cooler, the evaporative cooling wall worked by using moisture to remove the heat from the air as the natural breeze carried the air through the wall. Swamp coolers use damp pads within their system and to get the same effect in a beautiful and architectural way, I designed custom pressed concrete blocks. Initially, I had considered using limestone for the blocks as limestone us abundantly available in the region and it is a porous stone which would act similarly to a wet pad. However, limestone is water soluble and would not offer a longtime solution for the design. Concrete is a porous stone which is not water soluble so the decision was made to use concrete for the custom pressed blocks. In the design of the blocks, two angled cutouts along the side of the blocks focused the wind into specific spaces which would require more cool air than others. The water trickling between the blocks add an additional auditory experience by controlling the sound of the space and blocking out any city noise from downtown Austin which sits northeast of the lake. The opposing center walls in the space feature a louvered wall system which works in three positions to accommodate temperatures in all seasons.
Prior to our site visit, I read Juhani Pallasmaa's Eyes of The Skin and a few key statements and ideas stuck with me throughout my design process. The first was the idea that when we see an object from afar, such as a design or drawing on a page or a building from the exterior, it becomes an object but when that object enters a field of view that includes our peripheral vision, the object becomes an experience. Because of this, I chose to present stereopanoramic renderings using VR goggles to bring my reviewers into the experience of my design. The second idea that stuck with me, is how we should experience architecture through our other senses rather than experiencing architecture through an occularcentric manner. Pinup reviews make this difficult as they are inherently occularcentric. To change this, in addition to our visual collages, I used audio clips I collected from the site visit to isolate distinct sounds and created an auditory collage of how my space would sound to guests. The auditory collage was presented simultaneously with the VR renderings to create an immersive sensory experience for the reviewers.