The previous week had been about marking the beginning of the design of the public institution that would take form over the private confines of the house. While decisions about the type and program of institution that would suit the neighbourhood, the initial layout of its two storeys had begun the previous week, this week was about deliberating on the construction and structural detailing of the house along with developing the design of the institution. Thus, the peer review and suggestions at the start of the week provided a start to taking the design forward, while the schedule of working on-campus for the week provided a steady pace of working without any slacking.
Considering that the development of the design would be a continuous and ongoing process, an exercise to resolve the structure of the building was to be done in addition to it. The structure of concrete and brick infill wall reflected in the wall sections to detail the development of the building from the underground level of the pit to its roof, as well as others that focused on only the two floors of the institution that was above ground. Since the drawings were made on a larger scale, it required a larger level of detailing, that reflected decisions on every aspect of the building material from the depth of the concrete beams to the material and installation of railings. I had a fair idea on the material of the structural members of the building from the start, considering it would influence the dimension of elements in the floor plans and sections. Hence, greater thought had to be poured into the smaller elements of fenestration, such as the material and detailing of the sliding windows, and its distance from the outer railing to protect one while looking down at the ground. Having insufficient knowledge about these elements and their dimensions, considerable time was taken to look up on them. Owing to that, the sections reflected the mechanism of the sliding glass door that was fit within an U channel, which was in turn nailed into the wall. The requirement of exploring of opting for different articulation of openings in each of the section further allowed to explore my own memories and the internet sources to come up with distinct fenestration that would optimally suit the function of the interiors. Thus, the space under the stairs dedicated for storage had rotatable louvers to allow the flexibility of needing or blocking sunlight in accordance with the items inside, while the fixed glass in the shop ensured to prevent dust from untidying the commercial space at all times.
Review on the drawing highlighted the inefficient choice of fenestration in few places while in others, the incorrect representation of its details and dimensions. While I had thought that the cushiony cork floor would be an ideal soft ground for the children adjacent to the open courtyard in the house, discussion with the faculty pointed out that its insufficient water-resilience and damage under ultraviolet rays would infact lead to the opposite outcome. The changes in these details were to be now reflected in the next exercise of drafting the elevational views of the house on all its front.
Sketches were made on the previous plan to reflect changes in the fenestration and other elements that the review brought about, and it further guided in making the three elevational drawings of the house, since its fourth and south side was a blank wall that was shared with the adjacent house. Again, the focus of the drawing, while to make the building elements in all right placement and proportion, was to reflect the fenestration on the wall that looks out into its surrounding. Further, since the building had no internal rooms or partition, the outer surface of the wall had to well thought to decide whether it would open out to its surrounding or block the harsh sunlight. This brought on differences in the elevations- with the east and north side, that receive pleasant light throughout the day, opening to the street and green agricultural fields through large openings, while the west side was relatively closed off to protect the interiors from sun and provide more surface area for cabinets and storage in the food processing space of the institution.
Discussing the elevations with the faculty had brought about interesting changes in the outer skin of the building and resolved a few issues that I couldn’t. While my intention to open up the northern façade of the house to look onto the agricultural fields had reduced the protection of the circulation area between the store and food processing area, the solution to raise the wall along the stairs created an interesting contrast to the adjacent open space of the café that was only guarded by railings. The suggestion to modify the façade of the house by creating projections windows and depressed window sills, and deciding on using solid walls as a contrast to large openings brought a different outlook to my design. While I thought that creating large openings wherever possible was the way to open up the building to the outside, the feedback made me realise how the play of mass and void of the outer skin further accentuated the openings, exhibiting a better understanding of whether they were required to be open or not.
The week ended with a site visit to one of the educational institutions in Ahmedabad, Shreyas Foundation. In addition to how the practice of educational system was distinct and personally impressive, the different types of buildings, that the institution housed, offered a lot of insight into how differently my design evolve. The presence of load bearing and frame structures and the different types of materials and detailing in each exposed me learn about an eclectic choice of fenestration and façade details within that single campus. Further, the importance of vegetation among the non-living buildings was emphasised by their maintenance and growth, in addition to its incorporation within the curriculum of the students. These were all elements that were missing or being developed in my own design, and the visit served as a reference in addition to the usual internet source to first hand experience and make choices for my own institution.
The week offered an opportunity to play around with the fenestration, creating an understanding of how the different types modified the relationship between the outside and inside. The opportunity to self-explore them further helped, considering that the knowledge developed by searching for it oneself would create a more lasting impression than others. Going beyond finishing the structure, it created an urge to play around with different elements and realise how it modified the language of the building. It made me yearn to look and experience how these changes would be felt if the building took form in actuality, but considering that it is difficult for a number of factors, I would have make do with a virtual model that would be made in the coming weeks.