Central Glass International Competition: "Architecture Coexisting with World Heritages Sites"
First Prize : René Davids (with Taylor Medlin)
The Central Glass Competition sponsored by Shinkenchiku-sha Co of Tokyo invited proposals that would encourage visits to the UNESCO World Heritages Sites while simultaneously protecting them from the damage and environmental destruction caused by crowds of visitors. The program was open and entrants could choose to work with any of the 878 sites on the World Heritage List.
The Chilean port city of Valparaíso was established as a World Heritage Site in 2003, largely to protect the environment in which its ascensores (hillside inclined elevators) were created and in which they are still needed and used. The city offered the opportunity to design and develop ideas related to a World Heritage Site that is both an integral part of the fabric of everyday life and contains the most memorable feature of its urban landscape – form, symbol and function all at once.
Valparaíso is one of the most distinctive urban environments in all of South America. An abrupt change of level occurs between the coastal strip and the foothills rising in an arc to a height of almost 2,000 feet, forming steep cliffs which separate Valparaíso into two levels hundreds of feet apart. Upper and lower areas of the city cities are tenuously connected by streets winding up the ravines, steep stairways and a network of fifteen nearly vertical pedestrian elevators, or ascensores.
Prosperous in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Valparaíso began a slow decline when the opening of the Panama Canal eliminated much of the ship traffic around Cape Horn. The consolidation of commerce and industry in the capital city of Santiago to the east and the neighboring city of Viña del Mar to the north also damaged Valparaíso’s prosperity. An increase in the number of paved streets to accommodate cars and buses, and construction of new facilities for convenient mass transit in the hills gradually reduced the need for the ascensores, leaving many in a state of disrepair.
We propose to encourage the use of the Valparaíso Heritage Site by providing the city with wind-generated electricity, a new technology that, like the ascensores, will encourage commercial expansion and continue to foster a sense of community, creating new icons that emphasize the importance of the ascensores while establishing the beginnings of a twenty-first century economic urban revival. Our proposal consists of two interrelated concepts:
1) To take advantage of Valparaiso’s extremely windy conditions, we propose the creation of wind-powered electric generators on the plateau above Valparaíso’s steep slopes. The electricity would be generated through lighter-than-air, wind-driven turbines that rotate about a horizontal axis, then transferred down a series of 1000-foot tethers for immediate use, more efficiently and economically than that produced by traditional wind turbines. The turbines would be located directly in line with the ascensores and create icons for a new era while simultaneously highlighting the technological marvels of an earlier industrial age.
2) “Plug-in pavilions” connected to the upper terminals of the ascensores would be created where free electricity could be made available to impoverished inhabitants of Valparaíso, gathering places where they could plug in and use their sewing machines, electric tools, computers and cook-tops, thus re-enforcing a sense of community, creating opportunities for commerce to flourish, and establishing the motivation for people from other communities and visiting tourists alike to ride the top of the ascensores. Constructed of permanently inflated material, the pavilions would shift in size according to the wind conditions and glow like lanterns at night.
Red House is a hybrid live/work environment unusual for its location, an established residential neighborhood in the East Bay hills. Renovation of the dilapidated three-story house opened it up to the surrounding landscape with views over San Francisco Bay. A sequence of bridges and flying stairs begins at the street, runs through the house, and culminates with a bridge from the third floor linking the house to the hillside. The exterior stucco has a red oxide pigment, the same color as the Golden Gate Bridge. Translucent materials are used throughout the interior for doors, desktops, dividers and diffusers. The sliding stainless steel panel hanging above the double-height main living space encloses the upstairs bedroom when fully extended; a continuous horizontal slot in the door allows it to slide past the balustrade. The challenge of integrating new construction with portions of the existing house was resolved with a scrim of aluminum bar grating that unifies the main elevation and acts as see-through railings for a covered porch on the first floor and an open deck on the second.
Wurster Hall Courtyard
Wurster Hall at the University of California, Berkeley houses the departments of architecture, planning and landscape architecture. The design for a new interior courtyard celebrates their commonality with two intersecting folded planes and integrated planting. A slatted hardwood screen provides privacy for the faculty offices on the west side, and becomes a covering when it reaches the floor; hydroponic plants cover the east wall. Six folding benches add seating and texture to a space overlooked by students and faculty from the fourth floor design jury space and the new transparent non-slip glass stair. The stair, which connects the second floor to the fourth floor, is located between a translucent glass plane pierced at the west end by a balcony and the existing south wall. The north wall is covered by reflecting glass to provide privacy for other faculty offices. Existing concrete canopies on the north side will be transformed into containers for hanging plants.Red House is a hybrid live/work environment unusual for its location, an established residential neighborhood in the East Bay hills. Renovation of the dilapidated three-story house opened it up to the surrounding landscape with views over San Francisco Bay. A sequence of bridges and flying stairs begins at the street, runs through the house, and culminates with a bridge from the third floor linking the house to the hillside. The exterior stucco has a red oxide pigment, the same color as the Golden Gate Bridge. Translucent materials are used throughout the interior for doors, desktops, dividers and diffusers. The sliding stainless steel panel hanging above the double-height main living space encloses the upstairs bedroom when fully extended; a continuous horizontal slot in the door allows it to slide past the balustrade. The challenge of integrating new construction with portions of the existing house was resolved with a scrim of aluminum bar grating that unifies the main elevation and acts as see-through railings for a covered porch on the first floor and an open deck on the second.
Housing on Modified Ground (with Jay Atherton and Aimee Chan)
This proposal for Octavia Boulevard retains a portion of the topography once altered to build the old Central Freeway in the Hayes Valley neighborhood of San Francisco and recaptures it as a roof profile. Rather than the wholesale imitation of a Parisian street now envisioned by city planners, this project suggests a hybrid urbanism that draws inspiration from San Francisco’s topography and indigenous building traditions, such as the bay window and a variety of transitional indoor/outdoor spaces. Retaining the modified ground and recapturing its undulating forms on the roof allows the surrounding areas to recapture the contours of the landscape and take full advantage of the height limitations imposed on the site. A trellis-like wire frame allows vines to grow over the top deck, establishing continuity with the surrounding terrain and recalling the site's years as an overgrown ruin.
La Caldera is located on a hill in the East Los Angeles neighborhood of El Sereno. Each of the eleven houses is configured around a series of transitional spaces: an internal patio, a sun porch with opening glass walls facing the common courtyard, a traditional porch and yard facing outwards to the surrounding hills. An outdoor terrace off the master bedroom over the garage in each unit provides a private retreat. Another room and bathroom near the entrance provides a possible semi-independent living situation, home office or extra bedroom. Kitchens face the courtyard and there is cross-ventilation and abundant natural light in every room. The surrounding perimeter driveway, sidewalks xeriscape provide a firebreak between hillside vegetation and dwellings set well back from the edge of the slope.
Riverside House, Music Studio and Guest House
This residential compound has been commissioned by a musician and recording artist who lives in a mixed neighborhood of apartment buildings, religious and educational institutions, and single-family houses in the near-desert of Riverside, California but dreams of living by the ocean. The house is a programmatic hybrid consisting of a residence, a recording studio and a guest house for visiting artists. The design is a re-interpretation of the traditional Mediterranean courtyard house combined with the fluid spaces of modernism. The result is a group of buildings that employs a contemporary formal language but remains rooted in traditions of the past. Porches reminiscent of Caribbean verandas extend from some of the rooms to punctuate the composition of glazed surfaces, trellises and corrugated metal cladding. Sliding window walls, a large indoor aquarium and a pool in the courtyard dissolve the traditional boundaries between dwelling and landscape into a permanent flux of breezes, water, reflections and light.
The four-unit of the Pueblo Sierra Apartments in Riverside, California is intended mainly for use by students at a local university. Residents are offered a variety of private and communal spaces: private apartments each with an enclosed private outdoor court, each with access to a shared covered roof terrace, and a community courtyard with shade trees and planter seats. Each unit in has an entry forecourt, two bedrooms, and an upper-level terrace shaded by a canopy with views of the San Bernardino Mountains. The main entrance from the street is through a covered parking court and a shaded courtyard with a variety of seating arrangements.
There are few places where the structure of the American family has changed as visibly as in San Francisco, but the range of available housing options has not kept pace. Allomeric House is designed with the flexibility to accommodate families with children whose requirements may change over time. Each unit offers a range of options for internal subdivision; the only fixed element is the stair. Differing patterns of occupation within individual units and changing positions of the folding sun screens will animate the façade. The roof of the residential area is a plaza for children to play and families to gather. Three staircase systems ensure an active street with entrances to shops and residences. The large outdoor terraces are of a similar scale to the informal gathering places in the surrounding neighborhood in Hayes Valley and evocative of the deep front porches and bay windows of traditional San Francisco houses.
Casa Rivera is a house court comprised of eight four-bedroom townhouses for a small corner lot directly opposite the historic Evergreen Cemetery in East Los Angeles. Formal devices of framing and enclosure are employed at all levels of the composition. Two buildings with four units each frame the courtyard plaza, an outdoor urban room whose walls are the surrounding houses. Four frame-like volumes contain the stairs for each house and define its volume. Interweaving of interior and exterior space culminates in a roof terrace for each house whose privacy is ensured by the projecting frames of the stairs. A parking garage is tucked under the slope at the side facing the street and a small community building closes the courtyard with a vine covered pergola for outdoor gathering on the roof.
Daybreak Grove is a thirteen-unit housing project for low-income single-parent families, in Escondido, California, inspired by traditional Latin American cities where plazas are the focus of community life and the California bungalow court, with a space enveloped by buildings as the primary organizing element. The sequence of sidewalk, front yard and porch continues existing city rhythms; each unit has its own entrance from the street. A one-way driveway and parking at the rear keep cars separated from play areas. The compact unit size is complemented by a rich variety of outdoor spaces: a front yard and porch, a back yard and porch, and the small patio which provides each family with a private outdoor living space and ensures natural light and cross ventilation in every room. Kitchens are oriented to the courtyard where there are grassy play spaces, a laundromat with outdoor theatre, drought-tolerant shades trees, and raised planting beds.
Sunrise Place uses traditional bungalow court organizational principles with a progression from public to private space that extends the city sidewalk into the central court. The most public space, the parking court, is on grade adjacent to the street and covered with trellises. Following the parking court is the community courtyard surrounded by eight units, four on each side, each with its own entry porch adjacent to the kitchen window, and outdoor patio in the rear. Farthest from the street is the community back yard, with a children’s play area, a small laundromat/theater which is both a play structure and meeting place, shade trees and garden plots. Like boxes at the opera, each unit has a front porch facing the palm court, and a small private patio in the back. There is natural light and cross ventilation in every room. Double-height stairs act as wind chimneys so that each unit remain cool on the hottest summer days.
Observatory House in San Diego, California is a fusion of the traditional courtyard house and the Queen Anne tower house, with imagery derived from the nearby observatories of Mount Palomar and Mount Wilson, sited like enormous all-seeing eyes in the coastal foothills. The double-height cube tower, its four walls lined floor to ceiling with books, has small lateral windows which admit shafts of light without compromising its privacy. Shelves set at different heights accommodate books of various sizes. A dumbwaiter moves items from the ground floor stacks to the Reading Room and on up to the rooftop Observatory. At night with its luminous windows, the Reading Room is both beacon and oculus, grandstand and cave.
The Kitchen is designed as an ever-changing pageant of people, produce and machines in which what is being stored, replenished, discarded and rearranged is also part of the decor. The spatial order is defined by two black monoliths on opposite sides of the room: the Media Totem adjacent to the desktop with spaces hollowed out for TV, telephone and cookbook library, and the Tool Totem adjacent to the cook top which holds wooden spoons and other cooking paraphernalia.
Honda House is a 2000 square foot residential prototype designed to fit on a 25 x100 foot urban lot. Like the Honda Civic hatchback, it is compact, economical, well-adapted to urban congestion and contains a rich spatial variety within a simple envelope. Public rooms are located at the front, kitchen, bedrooms and bathrooms in the back with the garage and service areas tucked underneath. There is a retractable sunroof over the living room and a studio/office/workshop pavilion on the street separated from the main house by a shaded courtyard.
Built in 1932, the Aztec Motel is the oldest motel on Central Avenue in Albuquerque and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, which means it cannot be significantly altered. Like other old motels, the Aztec has replaced the rooming houses of the past and provides long-term housing for low-income residents. This scheme utilizes the existing motel and an adjacent parcel of land across the alley for a new facility serving women recovering from drug addiction and their children often turned away from existing programs because of their special needs. Courtyard parking spaces are relocated across the alley beneath a new nine-suite residential facility. Each suite contains two sleeping areas, a bathroom, storage space and a balcony; women with only one infant or pregnant for the first time would stay in the smaller rooms of the existing Aztec. A bridge building with communal spaces connects the new residential building with the courtyard.
Twice House is a residential prototype which offers a uniquely flexible range of living arrangements, including division into two separate units and expansion into as three or four units in one or two subsequent phases of construction.
Lavandería la Modelo is a renovated laundromat near an on-ramp on the frontage road of the San Bernardino Freeway in East Los Angeles. Interior flooring, wall finishes and equipment were upgraded, a new lounge area added and exterior colors, signage and lighting chosen to increase the laundromat's prominence on the street and visibility from the freeway.