Excerpt: The academic project by Preet Bhalodia from Faculty of Architecture, CEPT University explores architectural tectonics. The project proposes an innovative architectural pavilion at Lakhpat, Kutch, India, using tensegrity structural system with timber and steel as materials.
Introduction: This project intends to look into architectural design processes, and one of the most significant aspects of this is understanding the transformation process through various levels of interpretation. The design process for the project was separated into two stages: the first part termed ‘Abstraction,’ focused on deriving abstract ideas from a selected theme from nature. In this project, Flying Squirrel was taken as a starting point.
After careful observations of the topic, Abstract 2D diagrams were made depicting various observations as a first step. The next step was to translate them into 3D abstract diagrams by using different model-making materials and techniques. The second stage of the project, termed ‘Tectonics’, concentrated on establishing structural systems, building materials, and technology appropriate for the architectural form generated at the end of the abstraction stage on a given site. An architectural pavilion using tensegrity structural system was arrived at as a final form with the help of digital and physical model-making tools.
Lakhpat is a fortified town in Kutch, Gujarat, India, with a unique topography of sea on one side of the fort wall and desert on the other. The town has a serene landscape view from the top of the Fortified Bund Wall, frequently visited by tourists. The town is also dotted with rich historical landmarks such as the Lakhpat Gurudwara Sahib, and many prominent sufi shrines. Once the hometown of millionaires and a route for international trading from the Arabian Sea side to the Indian Territory, the town has now become a touristing attraction in the Kutch region.
‘Points in the Landscape’ were the design intervention on and along the fort wall of the Lakhpat town to enhance the experience of the visitors and make them arrive at different pause points, in order to interact with the historical landscape of the place. Designs were developed for a new social landmark that could be climbed up and explored by visitors. The focus in this design studio was to create structures that the visitors might be able to use and touch, and were rooted in the principles of ‘architectural tectonics’.
The design process for the studio was structured around two broad stages: Abstraction, and Tectonics. The process of Abstraction involves observing fundamental features from a selected topic from nature, and representing the same in the form of abstract 2D and 3D diagrams. For this project, Flying Squirrel was taken as a topic and thoroughly studied, and its Abstract 2D diagrams were made.
As a next step, some of the 2D diagrams were translated into 3D diagrams (models) by adding another layer of mass and direction(axis). The task was to interpret the 2D diagrams into a 3-dimensional form with the help of different model-making techniques and the use of different materials. After the 3D abstraction stage, came the Transformation stage, where the 3D abstract models were transformed by changing the model material, which also added another layer of transformation in the design process.
After completing both the sub-stages of Abstraction, some of these abstractions were tried as structures on the given site and program at Lakhpat, Kutch. They were kept on-site to understand the scale of the model with respect to the fort wall, alongside analyzing the form placement with respect to the site context.
Out of all the iterations done during the form evolution process, one of the forms was finalized and developed further with another set of iterations to evolve the structural system, materials, and the joinery details.
This particular finalized form also had a function. Here, the final structure was a Pavilion cum Viewing Deck. The Pavilion leads visitors toward the main entrance of the Fort Wall, and the Top part/Roof is accessible to everyone, which becomes a Viewing Deck for the visitors.
The structural system choses for the pavilion is a tensegrity with timber sections as compressive members and steel cables as tension members, with steel fabricated junctions negotiating all the structural junctions. At the end of the studio a detailed physical (1:20 scale) was made, along with a set of drawings that explained the structure and materials, such as: Exploded Axonometric, and selected details at 1:5 scale.
[This Academic Project has been published with text submitted by the student]
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