From a Home to an Institute

Having visited the House of MG, I was first introduced to how a residence can be expanded into an institution. Introduced would be an inappropriate word to use, for it may be possible that I may have visited a space like this before, but now, I was observing things around me and learning. I used the knowledge I gained through this visit, and analyzed the highs and lows in my design for my peer’s house where I converted it into an institution for food packaging and processing. Now, it was time for me to convert my new childhood home into an institution, which was intimidating yet very exciting.

Before diving straight into the design of my childhood home, I first analyzed the requirements of my neighbourhood- the age group pf the residents, their hobbies, various occupations, etc. My neighbourhood is already abundant in a wide spectrum of facilities, so it took me some time to think about the programme for my institution. I decided to convert my house into a cafe and an indoor gaming space where people of all age groups could congregate and have a fun time together. Since my mother is very fond of cooking, I decided that my mother and a few friends could run the cafe. Since I stay in a very densely populated neighbourhood, to provide some relief in this concrete jungle, I made the seating of the cafe in a rooftop terrace. This design went through multiple changes after realising the pros and cons after each design.

Axonometric Model: Axonometric Model of the first iteration of my institution

In my first iteration of the institution as seen in the axonometric model above, I realized there was still a lot that could be done to improve my design. Having a space for indoor gaming could be replaced by something better, because people could simply congregate at someone’s house for the same purpose and enjoy themselves. Also, it was important for me to explore more about how a concrete structure would harmonize with a wooden roof.

Having understood what I had gained and lost in the first iteration of my institution, I drafted orthographic drawings of my second iteration. This time, I removed the terrace seating, and centralized the entire idea of the institution around cooking with spaces that cater to the same- a kitchen for my mother and her friends to cook, seating adjacent to the cafe, a reception area, and a large terrace. This architecture also followed the theme of olfactory architecture and memories and experiences created by smells that I had in my childhood home.

This time, for my second iteration, I created a beautiful experience of being able to watch the chefs in action in the kitchen, but I had covered the courtyards and kitchen garden below, and hence, lost an important part of my design. Also, different circulation stairways and openings had to be explored.

My third iteration was challenging, but it taught me a lot. My site model was like my personalized Google map, and gave me an idea of my institute and its immediate context. It taught me about my neighbourhood such that I could see the buildings, roads, footpath around, and hence could orient my openings accordingly. It was difficult at first to gauge the dimensions of all the spaces around, but once the model was completed, it became much clearer to me and to any viewer where my institution was placed.

Site Model for my instituition

I also made a cardboard model of my institution, where each layer was made independently and could be stacked later. This helped in understanding the layout and circulation at every level of my institution. It was difficult to envision the entire institution while making each element, but when it all came together, the spaces became much clearer. Since my structure implemented principles of porosity, and fenestration played a vital role, not adding any windows or doors made my model look very incomplete which did not portray the spaces how I had envisioned them. By adding the inhabitation in the spaces and reimagining how I would move through and experience each space, I would be able to work on the articulation and quality of each space better. This time, I ditched my initial flat concrete roof and experimented with a wooden pitched roof, something that I had not done before. At first, understanding the structure and applying it was tough, but this new roof enhanced the spaces in my institution. I also introduced a mezzanine in this structure, but eventually understood how that may not be most ideal for my program.

After a thorough peer and tutor discussion about these cardboard models, I realized what worked for and against the institution, and watching other’s discussions opened my eyes to a lot of design opportunities and possible solutions to tackle the shortcomings in my design, and hence, proved to be very constructive.

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