To not build inside the mounds or on the plateau is to miss out on the opportunity to showcase Fort Ancient’s historical significance–that one has to excavate the plateau before building.  Therefore, the proposed museum is inside a 100’ by 100’ excavation that starts ten feet deep into the ground.  There are three main exhibit halls that are each 2 additional feet deeper into the excavation so the deepest you are is 16’ deep.  The approach to the museum is guided by mounds of the dirt that come from this excavation.  When leaving the museum, you are in direct axis to the lodge which you cannot see from the museum’s entrance.

As you approach the lodge, you realize you are getting a visualization of how deep you were in the excavation since the lodge is 16’ in height, the top of the lodge being the level of the plateau and the bottom of the lodge being the level of the excavated site.  The lodge follows topography lines while the museum follows a rigid grid system similar to that of a real excavation.  The lodge, while it serpents along the topography lines, can be  contained inside the excavated site since they are the same volume.  The lodge’s point of interest is that the rooms are glazed to view the mounds on the south as well as view the topography on the north.

Diana – Schematic Design

Case Study-Diana

While my first case study of the Aloni House is of a built project, for anyone who wants inspiration from bolder conceptual (unbuilt) projects, Oppenheim Architecture + Design is looking to establish an innovative design that intervenes a steep incline.  This Florida-based firm takes on the task of designing a Desert Lodge in Wadi Rum, Jordan.  Oppenheim proposes a subtractive design that carves out spaces from the side of a cliff, or side of topography.  Where there are natural faults and fissures is where Oppenheim proposes to insert these habitable spaces.  Also, the design intends to leave as much of the nature untouched as possible.  In renderings, it looks as if three walls will remain the natural raw rock, and the surface that was carved will be glazed.  The conceptual design also proposes using the cliff as a wall, and perhaps cutting a slit into the rock to support an overhanging roof.  Environmentally, this is great for thermal purposes.

While physically, this case study is related to our design project in program and topography, what we should take away is some design considerations and strategies.  Oppenheim did not decide where to carve into the site; instead, they allowed the natural topography to tell them where to carve.  Also, the design intends to leave as much nature untouched as possible, while still intervening on the site.  This is a good lesson in that what we are looking to do is find a balance of intervention and respect of the site.

Case Study_Diana

The Aloni House by Greek firm, Deca Architecture, faced a design issue similar to ours: how do we intervene such a topographically variant site while being sensitive to the site’s historical significance?  Deca Architecture’s answer for a site on the Greek Island of Antiparos was to capitalize on the valley where two slopes meet.  Stone laid one on top of the other from the bottom of this valley meet the two slopes to create the walls of the home.  While this move responds to the site, it has not intervened with the site yet.  Deca’s intervention of the site comes when the design calls for carving four courtyards out of the landscape.  Carving these four negatives spaces out creates five positive interior spaces that are protected from the elements but are also flooded with natural light. Environmentally, the orientation of the home not only lets in daylight, but also capitalizes on views of the sea.

This design also reflects the site’s historical use of dry-rubble stonewalls.  Once used for agricultural purposes, the earth-retaining walls were the most important interventions on the site.  Now, designs still use the same stonewalls to create new landscapes for vacation homes.

While there may not be valleys that meet up perfectly on our site, the important idea here is that, while one option is to carve into the site, another is to find potential in the natural forms already present.  Deca Architecture seemed to let the site drive its design from where to locate the building, how to orient it, where the courtyards should go, to what material should be used.  Aloni House is a successful example of a site-driven design.

Diana – Site Analysis

Terrace Park: the Butterfly – Diana Chan, Alex Kaplan, Anders Rustin

Here’s our Terrace Park Presentation in pdf format!  Enjoy!