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.
DIAMOND CITY in Adelaide, Australia by Tom Wiscombe Design
November 20th, 2013 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: Tom Wiscombe Design
We propose an interior city existing inside a mysterious diamond-like object. The approach stands in opposition to conventional master planning, where a set of reductive instructions such as building use, open space, and setbacks inherently undermine any tendency towards massively dense or monolithic forms. This building is not a map of history, a reified system of flows, or an evolutionary diagram.
It is a self-contained thing, complete with its own ground, buildings, and involuted urban ‘silhouette’. Rather than infilling the site following the European model, or sprawling across the land following the Jeffersonian model, this project is a singularity. It is a self-contained world which is alluring precisely because it does not give up its object-hood and refuses to be reduced to a set of site or building relations.
The design is based on nesting a complex crystalline object inside of another, less complex object. The inner object is too big to fit fully inside, and therefore it sometimes cuts through the outer object. The resultant figural cuts open up the outer object to the city, revealing the increased complexity on the interior.
These cuts are made in such a way as to produce overhangs and interior formations that infer enclosure although the inside is in fact an outdoor space. The actual (air-tight) interior of the building is found in the poche space between the inner and outer objects. A second set of diamond cuts on the exterior of the mass produces areas of glazing, providing views and daylight for the various programs housed there.
The building hovers on a small hexagonal footprint produced by undercuts along the perimeter. This releases it from the land and makes it appear discrete. This autonomy is further emphasized by large-scale, free-form tattoos which scatter across the mass like reflected light. The tattoos are scale-less and point to a tectonic realm free of the domesticating aesthetic produced by little pieces of building material such as panels, bricks, or shingles.
The project contains museums and galleries, offices and creative lofts, a hotel, bars and restaurants at the three peaks, and amenities and retail functions at the ‘ground’ level. The project provides approximately 50,000 square meters of leasable space, to be financed and administered by the City of Adelaide together with local developers.
The building has three major ‘entries’, oriented towards the city to the south, the University to the west, and the Park Lands to the east. The ground level is to be treated as a public square and made available for cultural events such as festivals, open-air theater and music, and farmer’s markets. Deep balconies sliced into oblique surfaces allow for horizontal circulation between functions, allowing breathtaking views down into the public square. Four major cores provide vertical access between all levels.
Several historically preserved buildings near the corner and west perimeter of the site are to be retained and re-purposed to house cultural and educational activities related to the adjacent University of South Australia. All other existing, outdated, Royal Adelaide Hospital buildings on the site shall be demolished.
The project achieves energy intelligence through passive and active measures. The internal public space is a microclimate. It is a sanctuary, protected from the sun and rain by its own involuted form. Hot air rises and exhausts through the massive openings above, pulling cooler air in from below. The airtight spaces of the building are shallow and designed to maximize day lighting and to allow for natural cross-ventilation.
Active measures include ground-source heat pumps which circulate cool water in a closed loop from deep caissons into chilled ceilings throughout the project. This system will serve as the primary temperature-control system for the building. The tattoos on the building skin will be embedded with thin-film solar material in order to contribute to building electrical needs, and a rainwater harvesting system will be embedded into the large faceted surfaces of the roof in order to contribute to building water needs.
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