28 October 2010

Studying Railway Parade……

It has been a constant struggle with Railway Parade.

evolution of retail study models

Initially it was a office building, but due to low demand on office space, we changed to residential.  At first Council was thrilled with the residential proposal and gave us incentives in parking requirement - which they eventually took back months later.  The parking requirement attached with residential development was unfeasible for our site, so we ended up with a fully commercial retail development which has no parking requirement.

So, what is the difference with designing retail development?

This is the scheme we decided to go ahead with.

Retail fitout is an art form in itself.  Retail development is the envelop for that art.
What we have here to work with as architects, is the envelop - the skin inbetween the retail fitout and the weather, the most primitive definition of architecture: "shelter".

Here we derived the concept of defining that skin with its supporting structure, and condensing the service pod (WC, exhaust, air conditioning plant, garbage collection...etc) into a compact box for maximum efficiency.  In a purist kind of way, the envelop and the box are serving the spaces in a very different capacity, therefore they should be detached from each other.

latest study model. detaching skin and box....but just how do we go about doing it structurally?

The issue is that the shopfront window facing the street is subject to a lateral wind load, which will be pushing the structure sideways and that lateral force needs to be transferred into ground somehow - transferring to the box at rear seems a natural thing to do, which in turn contradicts with the "detaching" of skin and box.  I think it has been at least 3 days now....for us to get our heads around way of detaching skin and box.... either way we are going for different degrees of "attaching", and never fully succeeded in "detaching".

This is beauty of architecture though.

Our job is to construct in reality, not in virtual reality.  The art comes in how we can materialise the concept in a physical environment; bearing in mind that even though everything seems possible with the advancement of computer rendering and 3 D modelling, when in reality, it is not.  It is when we have to bring all kinds of fields together, conduct the team towards a vision and direction in order to achieve, not mere "building", but "architecture".

It is another exciting battle we are marching into (after a long battle with program and function and concept)... I think we need to call out to our friendly alliance, the structural engineer, after some more studying and formulating of options...

earlier presentation perspective of the mixed retail/ residential scheme, showing the existing building at front (which we are yet to make for the retail studies). It was a nice scheme, but after the distillation of program, function, aesthetic, the current scheme is much stronger and pure. Obstacles can surely be blessing in disguise.....

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