Balan Gavril Adrian, Brao Rebecca, Belfiore Valeria@ Politecnico di Torino [Design Unit “Design Methods | Intensifying Blocks”, Professor:Subhash Mukerjee]
This Design Unit, titled “Design Methods | Intensifying Blocks”, is organized with the aim to develop in the students the ability to formulate precise design intentions and to target them to the solution of a given architectural problem, without losing consistency during the process – from analysis to conception to detail, through all representational phases.
The course tries to achieve this through a series of research and design tasks that investigate critically the work of a selected group of well-known international architects. Every group of students is invited to choose an architectural firm and understand its work as deeply as possible, to the extent of actually “interpreting” the selected architect while challenging the given architectural problem.
The site for the design task has been chosen among Torino’s most usual and generic areas – a housing block out of the city center, but not far from it. It needs both new buildings and the transformation and retrofitting of existing ones.
The project references architect Zaha Hadid and her method of working which represents an idea of freedom and escape outside outside the box, through the the use of fluid lines and geometric shapes that nobody is able to emulate.
“Flows’s House” is not a simple apartment building but originates from the idea in which movement, flows, sinuous lines and connection coexist with context; and it’s from the relationship with context that the project starts to develop. The proposal draws inspiration from the study of vehicular and pedestrian currents present in the area, into a structure which is born out of the continuous movement on site.
The residence consists of four volumes that intertwine and intersect with the existing building to create varying heights and elements of contrast between full and empty spaces. The facades are simplified to give more importance to the intervention whilst the existing building is refurbished with HPL panels, a ventilated facade that improves the building from both an aesthetic and technological perspective.
With this operation, the classic block of Turin is intensified, opened and crossed by the city.
How did you approach the work of Zaha Hadid? What projects particularly inspired you?
We started with an in depth analysis of Zaha Hadid, her studies, practice and work whilst also focusing on sources of inspiration as Russian Suprematism. Each project was studied and catalogues to obtain a better understanding of the transformation of her work and approach through the decades: from a dynamism characterized by hard shapes and almost violent to the use of parametric programs which lead to a softening of shapes and a fluid dynamism. This was very interesting as it enables us to understand how an approach and method can change through the time.
What project was most inspirational?
The project that, more than others, inspired us is the MAXXI in Rome.
What defined the selection of drawings you chose to reveal the project?
We reflected on the notion of representation, tracing her approach back to the AA, Malevich’s Tektonik, where she was inspired by his drawings as a means through which to represent the dynamic. This reference is extremely evident in the drawing and painterly representation of the projects through distorted perspectives and views on different scale.This approach was for us pivotal in starting to understand project and representation as one discourse and argument.
How do these reflect the concept of the project itself?
As mentioned previously we chose to show the project with an image that proposed different angles and emphasizes a distorted perspective to try to transpire the dynamic, one that is intrinsic to the whole urban system that materializes and gives life to the building.
Our target wasn’t to represent the project in a detailed and accurate way (although carefully studied) but rather to attempt to represent as much as possible the concept of ‘flows’ which forms the conceptual basis for the project.
What dictated the colour palette of the drawings?
When analyzing many of Zaha Hadid’s paintings, we noticed that the majority of these were on either a dark or very colorful background and very rarely white or black. The paintings we were most passionate about were those of MAXXI. In this case, the background was very dark but not black, it was marked by these very white fluid flows. For our project we chose a dark blue background, white as the main color because in stark contrast with the background, blue and red as the secondary colors to highlight what interested us. More than the color palette, the thing that was of vital importance in these representations were the nuances; dark light, we played mostly on this factor, representing shadows and depth that let out the project concept.
What roles does the model play in the representation of the project? How was this developed?
The models, from the initial to the final ones, were very important to understand how our building was integrated with the urban context. The model took a lot of time, to create it, to represent it and to produce it.
We wanted that our model had an impact to the observer and we decided to give importance to the observer’s point of view. For this reason we have chosen to realize it in perspective, in such a way as to bring out the strength of our project and push the observer to observe it from different points of view.