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New Project at Hong Kong University(HKU)

This summer I participated in HKU's summer course for Architecture, to experience what life really was as an architecture university student. It was quite intensive, the course ran from Monday to Friday for 3 weeks, 9 am to 6 pm.

What I want to talk about today is the final studio project that we had to do in the course. The task we were given was to create a "habitat" for a specific occupation with a specific adjective. The occupations we could choose from included Astronomer, Florist, and Farmer. Some adjectives we could choose were zany, laid-back, and lazy. What I chose was a Reclusive Writer. I chose a writer because I feel like it would be interesting to create a space for such a creative field. The idea of a reclusive person was also very interesting, as I was interested in seeing how I could manipulate form and function to fit this person's personality. The site we were given to work with was a simple 8-foot cliff.

I started with some preliminary sketches to get some ideas.

Being reclusive means avoiding others, preferring to be alone, which means that the writer would spend most of his time in his habitat. So I separated my building into two spaces, his workspace, and his living area. I want to create great contrast between these two spaces, making them independent from each other. I decided from the start that the outer facade is not of the utmost importance, as a reclusive person would not have many people visiting. Therefore, I will focus more on the experiential aspect and the atmosphere created by these spaces.

The living space will be very conventional, simple geometric forms that you and I see every day. The workspace would be more unique and special, incorporating more organic forms, straying away from convention. This space would be cantilevered out from the cliff. This symbolizes his detachment from reality, escaping the ground plane. The form that this space will take is similar to a sphere. A platform for writing would be floating in the middle of this sphere. This creates a fantasy-like environment to get those creative juices flowing while writing.

To develop my concept even further, I started to separate different spaces within the two principles spaces. For the workspace, I created a form where it seems like two domes are merging together. The indent in the middle helps separate one space into two, where the top is the writing area, and the bottom is his library. This way, the writer can ascend to his work, or descend to read. There will also be a skylight at the top of the workspace, to allow natural light in and create a bright environment. But also, allowing a far away view for the writer to think, as I also think myself that it is easier to creatively think when looking at something far away. The skylight also contributes to the idea of being reclusive, as the opening is not a traditional eye level window. This shows that even though the writer is exposed to the outside world, it is still closed off from society.

Separating the living area into different spaces was the next step. Being reclusive, I wanted to hide the workspace from the living space. I refrained from using the traditional door, as I feel like they interrupt the fluid circulation of movement. So as seen from the sketch on the left, I separated the space in a way where the entrance to the workspace cannot be seen from the open living area, while also allowing for natural circulation between spaces. I will also have a ribbon window(one of the 5 points of architecture by Le Corbusier) to let natural light into the living space.

What I have designed is called a transitional space, the space where the resident moves through to transition from one space to another, from the living into the workspace. Not only did I create this transitional space with planes, but also with light. The natural light from the ribbon will shine through very minimally into the hallway, creating a darker space. This lack of light contrasts it from both the living and workspace, which both recieve natural light. This is also an experiential element, as entering the workspace from the transitional space would make it feel way grander, as the transition from dark to light creates this affect. This similar affect is also created with the sloped roof. As the resident moves closer to the workspace, the roof gets lower, but once entered, the roof gets higher again, as you are in the dome. This again contributes to the grandness and shock factor I want to convey.

Alright, enough talking, now on to the final model that I created.

As you can see, I was not successful in combining the two domes into one hyper organic form, I had to seperate them with supports and beams. I also had to add suspension type rods to hold up the bottom dome, which also did not help my intention, as I felt like just having the ball float was a much stronger representation of a detachment from reality.

This is what the transitional space looked like. As you can see, it succesfully seperated the living from the workspace, and also successfully seperated the light, creating a transition from light, to dark, to light again.

These are my technical drawings of the model:

Overall, I really loved my time at this course, and feel like this is one of the projects I am most proud of, as I could finally apply what I have learned in the past to what I am doing. I hope to hear your thoughts and comments in the comment section below. If you want to share your own projects or architecture related experiences, feel free to contact my email so you can start posting on this blog as well!

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