After a thesis dialogue last week with my peers, I am resolved to start to develop the analysis that I’ve been doing for the past five months into the architecture of aquaculture. It’s a difficult process trying to render the complexity of this program and user base into built form, made even more difficult by the nature of my pilot site on the Eastern Knubble on the north shore of Cutler’s Harbor. As a first step, I’ve spent the past two weeks developing thoughts and ideas in section, rather than plan, which is what I had been doing while designing the program. All of these sketches are drawn through a basic “barn” type structure which will house the growing tanks for the developing cod. I started with what is essentially a traditional building, similar to the Shaker barns that I remember growing up, because overall the narrative of this project is the re-vitalization of what is traditional with new technology and ideas where needed.
What I found I needed was to understand what the basic relationship of the structures, the pier, the ocean, and land would be. The end result was the little diagram at the bottom corner of the fourth page. It is what architects call a parti, an underlying organizational diagram, which I can use throughout the design to make it legible and give the program structure. The realization that lead to the diagram was that traditionally, the fishing town has three zones: the land, on which the buildings of the town are constructed; the sea, in which the fish live, and the livelihood made, and the docks and boats, which allow access from the land to the sea. The docks and boats act as a sort of artificial land, they are physical protrusions of the land’s solid plane over a what is otherwise an inhospitable terrain. What I realized in the parti is that aquaculture has the reverse of this relationship, where an artificial sea is created on land, with tanks and ducts prolonging the ocean landward. In section, I would have a pattern where both the land and sea would be projected past their natural boundaries, and that this collision would be the driving force behind the architecture.
With this understanding in hand, I set about making a first attempt to render this space as a model. I decided to make a “chunk section” which would be a step forward from the sectional sketches and address most of the basic issues and ideas present throughout the project. This model is a first draft. It is very much a slightly manipulated barn arranged almost literally on the parti diagram which I had sketched. Nevertheless I believe that all of the details and mutations that will appear in future designs is present in this model in a sort of embryonic form. Unlike in the roof model from a previous post, this time I began by making a model in Rhino 4.0:
This digital model was based on the sketches, and is not very much different from them, except that it adds the third dimension and a much greater amount of precision. Although Rhino is capable of making much more complex forms than this, I decided to try to translate as close as possible my sketches to understand all of the parts of the building and landform in a simple and functional design, before moving onto more expressive forms. To begin with, this section follows the parti pattern of alternating land and sea, and natural and artificial landscapes:
It also is an accessible cross-section of the program, which allows for the movement of both workers and recreational occupants within the same space:
Programatically, this section identifies the three main access corridors which will exist in plan; a long continuous boardwalk, which will be the behave as a common space for the cod farm, and connect to Cutler Rd. in the original town; a smaller access route behind the facilities, for industrial use only; and a hiking trail above the boardwalk, which will wrap around the Knubble, and making the bluff into a park shared by the Cutler and the Cod Ranch.
I also took the liberty to start to consider the buildings’ performance, on a very basic level:
Although not fleshed out now, the form and appearance of the buildings may change considerably based on how they should perform. At the moment, I’ve designed a basic shading device on the south facade, to block unwanted sunlight from the building in July and August. This element is primitive now, but I think will morph into a more expressive and important element.
Finally, I translated the model out of Rhino 4.0, and into wood and cardboard, in order to understand the physical relationship of the parts I sketched out. I built in as much detail as I could into this model, because even though it is a first draft, the more detail present the earlier on, the more I can correct and improve.
Like in any other creative field, in architecture it is very difficult to hold an abstract in the mind. Ideas have to be recorded, even if they are only half baked, and aren’t ready to be published and released. This last week’s efforts are the first stab at creating an architecture that is both rooted in tradition and looking forward. My designs I hope will walk a tightrope between many different extremes and interpretations, but in the end, I want it to do two things, serve all of the people who will use it and depend on it, and be a place that no one had ever imagined being in.