Thursday, February 28, 2013

Diploma tall building group also working 28.2.13

28 Feb 2013: Some of our readers may have become aware that there are now TWO tall building studios in the second semester. The primary Masters group are still doing the Advanced Tall Building project (ATB) in Paton house with David N-C. The school took a decision to have another tall building studio in second semester, consisting only of Diploma (5th year) students and these are working in the 'Upper Gallery' near the coffee bar. 

Phil Oldfield and Dik Jarman are heading this studio.
It follows that Dip students are blocked from taking the ATB option and working with the Masters.
The Dip group are doing a site in Blackfriars, London, just north of the Elephant and Castle. 

Design tutorials progressing 27 Feb 2013

27 Feb 2013: Its the second week of design for the Elephant and Castle scheme, and we are seeing something from each group - I always think this a small miracle-moment when somehow students make that creative leap, and from such tentative beginnings, a strong design emerges. One thing that is on our mind is that we meet Ivan Jovanovic in a week's time and he is going to be asking tough questions about bioclimatic strategies.

Group DAV have an education tower with an oversize residential tail and DNC is working to trim it! It's a bit more Singapore than London at the moment. Just at that moment, the Sun shone through the window, the first for 10 days!

Group KQLX had a strong idea in the first week, and it is developing. It's going to be a handful even for the three of them, because they have so many mixed use ideas in one design.

Group LJQ have an interesting form, with a large 'goalpost' for the tower, and three alternatives for the podium fronting the Elephant and Castle.

Group 'Big Blend' are concentrating on the southern part of the site with a twisting tower and some green park terraces cascading down into St Mary's churchyard.

Group DCWQ are thinking of a twin tower with complex pattern of small cubic forms, and we are wondering about opening up a light shaft down the centre of the taller one, and moving the service cores outwards. Although Montreal's Habitat is a visual inspiration, it was a nightmare to build (in 1967) and more recent tall projects, e.g. by MVRDV, show a way to achieve the effect with less pain.

Group ATA have a twin tower too, but are exploring the form-making result of using triangular forms. There are some advantages in a triangular footprint, but it needs to be larger than this and they have many options to consider for the core position.

Singleton Group Jayanth has a residential tower with a wide south face, and sturdy megastructural frame at the east and west ends.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Facade modelling - the Core and Outrigger

22 Feb 2013: Its been a busy day for the Tall Building students. Phil headed a seminar of almost 2 hours just on elevators and escalators! Then our minds turned to 'Case Studies' in which each student will give a presentation for 10 mins (in March). The rest of the day was spent on DMT (Design Materials and Technology) or FCT (Facade Technology).

The Floating Clouds group have chosen to make a model demonstrating 'Core and Outrigger' and DNC has provided quite a lot of help from his garage, cutting up spare plywood shelves and roof slates to make some components. The group are also using rubber bungee as the 'columns' for the tensile facade. This is a start to making the first test model, threading the wood blocks onto the bungee.

They are putting slate floors in at intervals to provide some distributed weight. They are intending to build a lattice trussed outrigger and belt truss in two places.

Another group, the Bluesky Dreamers are intending to make their model in aluminium and clear plastic, and this will represent the Megabraced facade idea. The sponges are going to be held in water containers, so we can consider passive damping.

As the model mounts up, it is really unstable and requires a large team of very pretty girls to keep it upright. The men either stand around taking photos or stacking more dangerous weights on top, typical!

We can now make it stable by adding the tensile facade, and 8mm bungee is perfect, secured with metal eyes and figure-of-eight knots. But it is still not safe enough.

We now try additional facade columns, on the long and sort sides, and try to make the tension in each column approximately equal.

It is now standing upright, but a steadying hand is still helpful. The blocks have wood swarf on them after drilling and should have been cleaned off - the micro-gaps between the blocks cause too much sway.

Its going to be stored for the night, but is a little bit reluctant to be carried! and like a disobedient cat it 'jumps out of their hands' Miaow!

We can reduce the instability by cleaning the blocks and gluing them into pairs, thus reducing the number of gaps from 48 to 24. Here they are, drying overnight, with the bungee providing some pressure to help the glue set.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

First design tutorials of Semester 2

20 Feb 2013: Last week it was presentation of Site Analysis, so it is time to start design work. This is the first week of trying to design ideas. We have a wood base model of the Elephant and Castle (left over from last year) so we have the groups trying two or three different alternatives using physical models made of card or foamboard. After such a lot of analysis, and conscious of the urban context, we are rapidly into quite realistic proposals. 

Douglas Amna and Vivek (Bluesky 1) have three options for the site, although the one in the photo is a bit large! Model scale is something they have to get used to.

Kaiqing, Xuwei and Chen (Floating Clouds), considering a range of twin tower solutions

Wang Qi and Danqing (Superscraper) offer a twin tower with interesting complex cubic geometry

Floating Clouds again, with images on laptop. One interesting idea is a twin tower with 'vertically sliced mixed-use' and vertical farms.

Superscraper (1) again. DNC suggests put a sock over it.... the lightest ladies tights, naturally!

Floating Clouds (2) with three models. Sellotape makes a good tensile facade at 500th scale!

Superscraper (2)

Bluesky (2)

Jayanth (Bluesky 3)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Someone's busy making tower components!

19 Feb 2013: Here's a snapshot of some ongoing work on the experimental facade towers. These plywood and slate parts are for the core and outrigger model. We also intend to make a very large number of aluminium brackets, and the only way I know of is to drill and cut them by hand. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Working on a tall building model to test in Wind Tunnel

18.2.13: We're designing three tall building models a metre high that can be used for airflow, resonance and seismic testing in a wind tunnel. The towers will have a litre can of water at top to test damping. Three models: core and outriggers, lattice facade, mega-braced frame . Here's the outriggers team! The purpose is to explore the role of the FACADE as a structural element.

diagram Gunel and Ilgin
One of the problems we have is the 'D'Arcy Thompson' one of SCALE (ex-Growth and Form). A tower that is ONE metre high is as different from one 100-200 metres high as a spider is from me. Throw the spider out of a first floor window, no harm done - it will throw out a silken thread and float safely to earth. Please don't do it to me! A 200th scale model is actually an 8 millionth of the real thing, considered by volume and mass.
   If you made a core of of one single piece of wood, it would be completely solid with no elasticity, and would topple over. We have to make a core that resembles a backbone of vertebrae, that can sway and bend. We have to post-tension it, because if needs to behave elastically and not just bend and stay bent. The building has to be firmly fixed to a baseboard, to simulate a strong foundation.
    We are going to try using bungee cord for the facade to make it behave elastically. Although it is tempting to make a facade out of clear plastic, imagine how solid that would be if translated to full scale - the only thing that may resemble the behaviour of glass in a real tower is the thinnest cling-film. Many of the structures are being bolted (so that they flex). The bolts must not be too tight or the structure is too stiff to behave elastically. If they are too loose, it is slack and deforms plastically. So we are using spring washers, self locking bolts and may have to use some of the bungee cord as bracing to restore the shape.
    All interesting explorations!! (More pictures will follow)

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

David Leonard visits TB Studio

13 Feb 2013: We are lucky to get an annual visit from David Leonard (of Leonard Design) who is a globe trotting architect master planner with projects in China, Spain, South America, Malaysia, Mauritius, Italy, Kenya and of course some in the UK. We got him at just the right moment to coincide with our students doing a master planning exercise on the Elephant and Castle site. 
Above and Below: the 'Bluesky Dreamers' group show David their site study and take him through analysis of some volumetric permutations for the site. The other groups followed with similar ideas for organising volumes on the site. 

David had to leave at lunchtime, but we remembered to get a group photo. It's been a good morning, but we continued long into the afternoon with more presentations on the History of London, Social Spaces in Tall Buildings, and Bioclimatic/Passive/ Active strategies for tall buildings.

Friday, February 8, 2013

High rise lectures by Phil

8 Feb 2013: We are having a series of lectures on Fridays (during second semester) , shared by the Masters and Diploma students. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

More pictures from London Site visit

4 Feb 2013: We are grateful to Grace Susanto for uploading some of her London January Field Trip photos to Facebook.

Here's another view of the beautiful structure that is part of the Producing Architecture exhibition at the Building Centre, curated by Prof Michael Stacey of our department. 
We visit this London model every year, as it gives the students a broad idea of how London is laid out. The model stretches far enough in each direction to show all significant sites and buildings that we are ever likely to see on a field trip. 
Above Left is the Strata Tower that is just next to our site in the Elephant and Castle.
Above Right is the London Shard by Renzo Piano workshop. It was not open on the day of our visit, but is open in February onwards for £25 a visit!
Left is Moor House on Moorgate. Interesting building with the curved facade facing south. 
Exchange house (SOM) bridges 75 metres across the railway lines of Liverpool St station. 

Above Left is the Broadgate Tower (SOM) that represents the northern-most end of the high rise district of City of London.
Above Right is the Heron tower (KPF), showing part of the south facade. Most of this facade is elevators and stairs, and most of it has a PV covering, as the students on the Left are just examining. As there is a site to the south of the Heron that has a 35 story tower under construction, do not expect much from this PV wall in the future.
The Megastructural bracing on the Heron Tower is necessary because it doesnt have a conventional solid core, so the facade is also the structure. Looking up the PV south facade of the Heron Tower. 
The other half of the students on the field trip are looking at Long Span Structures, so they diverted off to look at the Excel centre, O2 dome and the Thames Barrier.