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.
University Boulevard Transit Shelters in Vancouver, Canada by PUBLIC
February 8th, 2014 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: PUBLIC
At the main entrance to the UBC campus along University Boulevard are two strategic insertions into the transit infrastructure that provide covered shelter for the trolley-bus loop. The transit shelters act as a conceptual extension of the nearby line of Katsura trees. Slender steel columns are arranged in a staggered line and hold up an over-sized cellular wood structure clad in glass.
From a distance, the glass reflects and fills gaps in the surrounding trees, but as one approaches, the wood is revealed and creates the effect of walking underneath branches. The shelters help create a long covered space, continuing the canopies of adjacent buildings down the Boulevard into the heart of campus while the sidewalk remains largely uninterrupted by vertical structure, reducing impediments to heavy pedestrian traffic.
The shelters aim to create the kind of visual balance between random and regular pattern that one finds in nature. With the tree canopy as a starting point, the structural exploration began as a series of beams, and then the beams connect to hold up glass. We sought to imbue that structural grid with movement and above all, to create a design that performs both visually and structurally.
After a series of pattern explorations, structural analyses and fabrication scenarios, the form that emerged was a single repeated pentagon rotated and flipped along its edges. This produced a regular module for ease of fabrication and a random arrangement for visual movement. It repeats without becoming repetitive. In order to keep the shelters light and streamlined, and to give the canopy a floating quality, structural elements take on multiple tasks; columns act as rainwater leaders, the precast ductile benches support steel map cases and both fit between the spacing of the columns to provide a windbreak.
Glulam beams of laminated fir were cut, shaped and predrilled by a computer controlled Hundegger beam processor – a channel was saw-cut down one edge of each beam to receive a steel plate. A self -tapping screw system made the construction possible whereby 12,000 screws drill directly into the steel plates creating a moment connection and eliminating the potential for deflection or buckling that might have occurred with a typical bolted connection. The shelter is more about wood craft than wood tectonics, hidden rather than expressed connections to achieve a tight fit between segments and maintain the monolithic appearance of the cellular wood structure.