Architecture Factory (Cork Institute of Technology) by Marc O Riain
2013 - 2014, Platinum A' Interior Space and Exhibition Design Award Winner
The co-location of students in existing studios was yielding co-dependent learning outcomes Students were learning form their peers through exposure. This was the critical inspiration for the project. We wanted to create spaces that invited co-learning. The open boulevard creates both a circulation and exploration space. The existing building was a warehouse. We wanted to occupy the space in a cost effective and low impact intervention. Thus we started with the concept of mobility. Part of the existing space was a shipping dock and the containers seemed a very simple step.
The Architecture Factory is a third level education and learning space situated in a disused split-level warehouse. The brief was informed primarily by cost effective occupancy and the desire for studio pedagogy. The design avoided traditional subdivision of walls and ceilings; requiring sub divided servicing and expensive firewalls. 6 shipping containers function as lecturer's offices dividing the space it into open studios separated from a mezzanine by an open boulevard acting as an exploration-learning lab, an opportunistic exhibition space, and the main circulation. Creating a visually open connection between occupants to encourage interaction between peer groups. Below the mezzanine frameless glazing minimally delineate the recessed acoustic boundaries avoiding a long monolithic horizontal interior façade. The balcony anamorphically distorts the perspectival emphasis. First floor transparencies offer excitement and vista to the activities below. Green shipping containers, reuse embodied energy and radiate a chromatic energy within the space. Roof sections are serrated creating a repetitive texture angled southward for light and away from the mezzanine windows for privacy. The resulting textural composition creates differing cognate compositions depending on whether they are viewed from above or below. Open plan studios occupy parti spaces between geometric organizations of containers in un-partitioned relief. Dedicated work-spaces with wire shelving above, function as both storage and acoustic baffle. The 6 acoustically open offices and studios function intelligibility well. Enclosed seminar rooms below the mezzanine provide more acoustically private spaces for theory delivery and discussion. Student-to-student learning is a natural consequence. The industrial heritage of the building strongly influenced how the scheme aesthetic maintained the genius loci. The use of containers reflects the manufacturing process. The white and grey provides an interior canvas carefully refined to minimize complexity. Color proportionality and density emphasizes the containers but is sensitively balanced not to perceptively dominate the space.
Design Challenges
In a sense delivering acoustic privacy in such an open plan space and maintaining intelligibility in working lecture ares is a big challenge. This was addressed by the use of theatre to break up sound and absorptive materials placed in the line of speech. It works very well.
Production Technology
the existing forgo tiles were removed by an Asbestos contractor in the first 2 weeks. The existing services and containment was stripped out and new south facing roof lights fitter over the future studio spaces. Three 1200mm windows were removed to slide in the used shipping containers. When in place we constructed the metal framed mezzanine on site. Once completed the first floor was poured on the metal deck using 100mm of Ecocem. The first phase of compartments were built under the new mezzanine and second flux servicing. The main warehouse floor was ground back and a fresh concrete screed poured to homogenise the floor finish. Once complete and walls were decorated and open plan servicing completed. Glazed partitions flowed for the mezzanine and shipping containers. The main floor was sealed and painted with an ultra low VOC flooring. Mezzanine floors were carpeted followed quickly by furniture. The timeline to completion and commissioning was 26 weeks.
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