MORPHING the ARCHITECTURAL GEOMETRY

Post 671 by Gautam Shah

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Architectural forms are primarily of neat geometric constitution. Externally these may remain holistic, but internally evolve into a complex entity. The interior morphing compulsions are for new spaces and novel experiences, whereas the gamble on the exterior front relates to new shapes and silhouettes. Internal uses are varied and dependent on the orientation and connection to exteriors, but external side basic demands are for ethereal lightness and grounding to the gravity. On the exterior front, to sustain the neat geometry and maintain the holistic form, several compromises occur. These include lopsided connections with the outside, regimented face on all sides, irrelevant scale and form for the locality and community. Where such liberties are required, these are sought to be covered up with a monophonic applique skin. The skins could be opaque and glossy, or transparent and reflective. The skin is also included with extensive texture of architectonic elements, surface treatments and ornamentation, to camouflage the variations.

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The validation of a holistic entity, on functional, structural or social is not possible, unless wide range of compromises are accepted. Historically, large number of architectural forms start as a composition of several sub entities, but mature into a singular form. This was more plausible where buildings were designed by a master architect, and later handled by expert builder or a strong political patron. The comprehensive forms also emerge when cannons of styling or architectural orders are well established.

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The maturation to a comprehensive form has occurred on the same building during its planning, with later day improvisations, or as a style upgrade across a region. Such changes come through extensive rejuvenation of the shell or as superficial application. Often, there was no conscious effort for a comprehensive form, but rather affirm to a trending ‘style’. The style morphed forms were more unifying with new orders, thematic confirmation, repetition of patterns, axial symmetry, proportions etc. It also gave way for superfluous decorations to be added, by later generations.

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Architectural geometric forms besides being too neat and simplistic have little to offer in terms variations. So on external and internal sides, the form is transgressed. The bloated form causes spatial diversity. The geometric form is stretched outward as projections, galleries, and inward as cutouts, chowks, ducts, etc. The transgressions occur over existing openings or new ones, but all bring in more illumination and visual connections with nature. Later day structural changes are rare, as many were load-bearing entities. Morphing new things over existing structure was an easier strategy.

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The outward push or exterior transgressions of buildings have had two basic purposes. To create a comprehensive architectural entity by stabilization (wider base), stepped form, hierarchical arrangement of constituents, linking of loose elements, balancing the composition, add segments of interest on the side that are deficient, establishing connections to the site topography or neighbourhood, strengthening or recasting the style value, increase the footprint and for adding the mass.

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Building forms are pushed outward to enlarge and reconfigure the shape of interior space. The breach removes the omni present sense of enclosure of interior spaces. The outward transgressions, like verandahs extend the threshold or buffer zones. In many instances it facilitates sideways view, additional aeration and illumination. The outward push of the building mass added surface area, and space for new architectonic elements or units for pattern making.

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The outward push makes an architectural composition multifarious, but it is the inward push that changes the spatial quality and often the raison d’ etre for the adventurous undulation of the outer form. Openings created or reformed for interior space modulation, began to create a visually recognizable entity at twilight and night times against the darker setting of the town. Steeples, lanterns etc. were simultaneous elements of both the exterior and interior transgressions.

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Architectural form transgressions are profuse at roof level. The chief purpose was to pattern a silhouette. In old buildings the silhouette or the edge-line was factored in twilight hours. But after 19th C the street lights and massing of structures in the surroundings began to redefine not only the massing, but the roof edges. Roofs are re-composed with same unitary shapes being replicated at different scales and with siting positions. These at micro level include manipulation of roof edges, parapets, eaves, finials, grotesque, gargoyles pinnacles etc. At macro level, roof elements include Chhatris, belvedere, flying buttresses, spires, roof lanterns, steeples etc.

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To convert a conglomeration of bare geometric elements into a comprehensive building, several levels of changes occur. The changes include confirmation to gravity by way of a wider base for stability, localization (orientation, climate) (position of entrances in North versus South Europe), Real and perceptive structural stability, cultural validity and stake-holders accordance.

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Such a process of confirmation is consciously negated by the deconstructivist. The confirmation to gravity is post conception adjustment, wider base for stability is camouflaged behind reflective surfaces, localization does not exist, elements of real and perceptive stability are defied on the exterior side but are outrageously clumsy on the internal side, cultural validity and stake-holders accordance is given a go, for the ‘universal’ built-form. It is not architecture but a construct like a sculpture. It is an adventurous built-form offering spatial complexity for new experiences, a fresh behavioural setting, but one is expected to search for a functional utility.

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SHADING DEVICES for BUILDINGS

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Post 670 by Gautam Shah

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Openings need additional shading systems primarily because these are thin and more translucent in comparison to any other structural barrier systems, like walls, floors or roofs. Additional shading systems are preferred because the needs are for small period of time, part of a season, occasion or location. The needs for a shading device are people, culture or locality specific. The openings are used for outward and inward view, illumination, breeze and air change. And shading devices achieve needs by blockage, filtration, reflection, redirection or delays.

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Opening systems like Gates, Doors and Windows have three distinct zones: The exterior zone deals with environmental aspects that are spatial extensive, directional, temporal and seasonal, The interim section constitutes the body of the opening, and so its depth is the operative element. The interior segment is in the personal domain of the owner-user, which makes Interior shading devices easy to install, manouevre, change, with variable yet very precise control over the functions. Interiors shading devices are also visible from outside and so some conflicts of approach to design are inevitable. In most likely scenarios the architect is a different person than the Interior designer, who may or may not confirm to the theme of architecture.

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Shading Devices with openings are of many different types. Different types of shading devices improve each other’s functions, often duplicating it. There is a strong demand to rationalize the system with fewer elements, by way of integration, removal of duplication and redundancy. Shading devices offer micro tuning of the environment, catering to local requirements, provide occasional variations and satisfy the urge for personalization.

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● External shading devices are architectural provisions, with varying levels of integration. There is an overwhelming regimen of the building style, location, orientation and shape-form. The provisions are so confirmatory that user is not allowed to make any changes. The provisions, though occur as fixed devices and as manipulable systems, no spatial relocation is allowed.

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External shading devices are of longer lasting materials as these have to bear the elements of environment like Sun, rain, heavy storms, snow, atmospheric pollution. These are termed architectonic element due to the match with architectural language.

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External shading devices are very effective, as they intervene before the radiation, rain, wind etc. enter into a building shell. Such devices de-rigueur have universal design for all faces and floors, but are affective differently at different times of the day or season.

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● Interim shading devices have thickness as the key factor, and are usually thin. Interim systems could have partial spread or have options of folding, collapsing or demounting. These are frugal and likely to be a single purpose entity. Interim shading systems are often spatial provisions of vacuum or gas filled cavities.

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● Internal shading Devices occur in a user domain and so are preferred for the ease of choice, installation, change and manipulation. These provide variable yet very exact control over privacy. The internal shading devices are housed in a protected environment so can be delicate, lighter in weight and occupy a very small thickness.

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Internal shading devices are multi layered to serve diverse purposes, and offer several choices of spread or placement. The space between different layers is intentional, to work as a metaphysical barrier. Internal systems also serve purposes beyond the shading, like sound and thermal insulation of the interior space. These also provide a tactile (soft) surface, colour and textural effect in the interior space. Interim shading devices filter and diffuse the light in inward and outward directions.

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Internal shading devices are predominantly of soft materials such as fabrics, films, sheets, flexible materials like mats, nets, tapestries, or stiffer materials such as reeds, wood slats, etc. Thin and pliable materials allow the assembly to collapse, gather or roll up. Glazing materials offer largest variety of surface treatments, by way of manufactured constitution, integrated and applique surface treatments. Glass surface treatments now include application of films, texturizing, metalizing, micro (nano or molecular level) engraving, enamelling and colouring.

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Shading devices such as Venetian blinds or vertical louvers are not very effective on the internal face of the opening, as the solar gain has already been admitted into the interior space. But interior shading devices offer glare control, and visual comfort. An internal shading device reflects back part of the radiation, but latent heat remains within the interior space.

Shading Devices are single or multi layer systems, acting as a composite or assembly of individual skins. The layers have prearranged sequence, so access to an inner layer becomes difficult. Some can be collapsed or removed. Layers form a planer element with some materials plus cavities as the substantive body.

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Additive or mounting systems are used as optional or occasional facility like storm shutters. Collapsible or folding systems require a volumetric space for parking or resting, which reduces the net area of opening. Pseudo or pretentious shading devices are in the form of furniture elements, furnishings, panelling, partitions and other architectural devices.

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Thermal management by shading devices: These are designed to take optimum advantage of seasonal angles of a solar incidence. The solar gain occurs primarily in reference to the plane of the window, so an alternate method could be to have a variable plane of the window, but that may not be an appropriate architectural style. However, external shading devices keep the glazing surface in shade to cut off the direct solar radiation.

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Vision management through shading devices: Shading devices as subsystems divide the view out or inwards by framing, masking, modelling. The visual scape is altered through the sill and lintel level and shape, pattern configurations, quality of glazing etc.

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Safety security with shading devices: External shading elements maintain or reduce the size of opening, and so become integrated latticed barriers for safety and security against height related hazards.

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