Alex Gazetas

Pavilion | Tremenheere Art Park, Cornwall | Unit 21 | 2013

Ibn Battuta Plaza | Tangier, Morocco | Unit 21 | 2013 

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Andrea Palladio intended his buildings to be proportionate, comfortable and useful. To this end he devised detailed principles of construction based on his study of Ancient Roman architecture, which he set out in his treatise ‘I Quattro Libri dell’Architettura.’ Palladio’s principles worked together to produce the elegant and balanced architecture for which he became renowned. Chiswick House designed by William Kent is one of the key buildings in the UK which follows Palladian principles.

Light is a vital element in Palladian interior architecture, and the use of it varies immensely. In Italy, with its intense sunshine, interiors were designed to be cool and shade-giving. In Britain, with its weak sunshine and more temperate climate, light had to be maximized. For Palladio the employment of natural and artificial light was crucial to show off a room’s potential; shadows could be used to dramatic effect in apses and sculptural niches, and to define the rich mouldings and carvings of this inside-out architecture.

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Light Cloud Pavilion

According to ancient Roman belief, each independent living being – human or animal – has a ‘genius’ or protecting spirit that keeps it alive. ‘Genius loci’ is the spirit of a place – the sum of its visible and invisible characteristics. Throughout history, these characteristics have inspired architecture that has sought to be in harmony with its immediate ‘situation’ or, place.

The spirit of a place can also be conveyed by responding sensitively to its light. The importance of light to the spirit of place is no more evident than in the western part of Cornwall. Located 5.46 miles north of the site at Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens lies the seaside resort of St.Ives. The area is renowned for enjoying a special quality of light that has attracted generations of artists for nearly two hundred years.

Taking inspiration from the unique light that is enjoyed in this part of the UK, the form of the new pavilion has been derived from lux levels across the site, which were mapped and turned into point cloud data. This was then used to form the ‘cloud-like’ roof, ceiling, floor, lighting, screening and structural elements. The intention behind the pavilion is to manifest the world of hidden information into physical form.

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Ibn Battuta Plaza

A square for summer, a square for winter – the new public squares focus an array of new activities that negotiate different scales and urban configurations through adjustable physical states that will attract people from outside the area stimulating wider social capital and encouraging urban renewal in downtown Tangier.

The rectilinear shaped site, situated along the wall of the Old Tangier Median lies in close proximity to the tomb of the Moroccan explorer Ibn Battuta. Over a period of thirty years, Battuta visited most of the known Islamic world as well as many non-Muslim lands, a distance surpassing threefold his near-contemporary Marco Polo. Using a selection of maps in the same way that Ibn Battuta did in the 13th century, the proposal reveals a hidden world of virtual data transposed into physical form. The summer and winter squares are designed to literally mimic the geographical hierarchy of Tangier in its formation, taking the local features of the county aerial map and suitably displaying them through their architecture. Tangier townships, roads, school district boundaries, railway lines, and agricultural field configurations have all been used as the basis for designing the proposal. This not only forces a new reassessment of conventional public typologies to produce an innovative building but also provides an opportunity to physically re-affirm the city of Tangier as the geographical crossroads and economic center of Northern Morocco.

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