Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
Perforum in Tallinn, Estonia by Maxwan
August 20th, 2011 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: Maxwan
Program as Inspiration
The building program provided the inspiration for the design. It is a collection of many different uses. Instead of trying to press all of these varying spaces with varying needs into one singular form, the design allows each component to take on its own form. This permits each programmatic element to work independently and efficiently. The varying spaces are not compromised functionally in order to fit into a certain form.
Forum as Mixer
With this independence comes a need for cohesion. A grand forum was formed to elegantly resolve this issue. It not only provides formal coherence, but it also provides social cohesion. It creates a space to hang out, bump into people, or a moment to sit and watch people. The walls of the grand forum are more than merely edges of a mixing chamber. They provide literal windows into the activity of each program – vignettes into the life of the building. For each program there is an opportunity to retreat to the comfort of their own space, while the grand forum allows users to mix with each other like in a public space with the comfort of being climatized.
The building is very modest toward the street. The walls are mostly glass with curtains behind, with the arch of the grand hall giving an open window to the life is inside, as well as an ideal place for event advertising. This is intentional. It allows these young men and women the opportunity to be open and free to share their work with each other inside the building, but the comfort of not being fully exposed to passersby. If one wants to engage with life the school, one needs to enter it and be a part of it themselves.
Another outcome of this formal decision is the series of external spaces created, adjacent to the grand forum and between the programmatic boxes. Another exterior space is for the elementary school, which is located behind the building to give privacy and intimate outdoor spaces for the children. These smaller, more intimate spaces allow users many opportunities to step outside, whether to catch some sun on a terrace, look upon some flowers, or perhaps just to have a smoke. Much like the diverse boxes, these spaces each take on their own character. This also allows for the building to feel porous, allowing students to flow easily across and through the building and site freely, with many movement options.
Each program is placed in a specific setting. The performance halls are located in the southeastern corner, so these mostly closed boxes are adjacent to buildings off site that are also blank wall structures. The dorm and the elementary school are located at the rear of the site to allow for privacy and their own entrance space, with easy drop off. The activities with the most motion – dance spaces and the gym – are at the front of the building both because of their low-modest heights to blend into the context and it provides an opportunity to show passersby a hint of what is going on in the interior of the building. The TMKK, Ots, and the general school are located in the middle of the site in order to have the height pulled back from the streets. The ground floor of the Forum is always lined with active program – library, cafeteria, recording studios, etc.
Parking is handled in one simple layer of underground parking, which can be entered both from Parnu and from Liivalaia. A simple drop off location is off of Liivalaia. Ample bike parking is also provided underground. Multiple elevators and stairs provide direct access into the forum and access to the programmatic boxes with a key card. Loading takes place on the southern side of the site with room for turn around, allowing direct ground access to the performance halls, sound studios, and the music schools.
Another added benefit to the ‘series of boxes’ approach to the design is the ability to phase the project in any number of ways. We anticipate the building being constructed all at once. However, the ability to break up the building into a series of pieces is always a good option to have.
The attitude toward sustainability is diverse. Green roofs are used on the higher structures. These can be used to collect water for flushing toilets, hand washing, and irrigation. The winter will provide good opportunity to use collected snow on roofs and its melt for water. The high forum will be used to provide more natural ventilation, pulling air through the buildings into the forum, exiting out the top. Obviously, low flow toilets, composting area, non off-gassing materials, and assorted other energy saving/healthy materials will be specified. There is great potential to use geothermal energy on this site, but further study will be necessary to determine its viability.
Construction | Materials
The building is generally a concrete structure of columns and slabs. Due to the parking spaces underground it is based on a convenient 7.80 x 7.80 meter grid. This allows maximum flexibility for the buildings above. The forum is steel structure filled in with insulation and plaster board. An additional acoustic treatment will line the interior of the forum. This material will require later research to determine the appropriate material that balances aesthetics, acoustic qualities, durability, availability and cost in Estonia. Closed portions of the building are an insulated concrete wall. For openings in the façade – that single glass is backed by a ventilated space with sun shading devices and another double window.