16th Venice Architecture Biennale Albanian Pavilion Competition Design Proposal
The Albanian Pavilion creates a sense of place, a journey through space, that provokes the senses and imagination. At the end of the journey, through pathways, like a bundle of fiber optics, leads to information about Albania.
The intervention aims to dissolve and unconstrain the spatial limitations of the existing room, by introducing a series of bent vaults that pull people into and through space, creating new spatial and circulatory conditions [Freespace].
The vaults are an interpretation of the Albanian arched portals. Citadels used portals to control access into the fortress. The main entry points were organized with arched portals and vaulted geometries as layered boundaries enclosing a sequence of spaces. Portals were also built within the citadel’s walls offering opportunities to connect with the outside, framing views, and providing enclosure. The portal typology is also present as entry thresholds into private houses in cities like Berat and Gjirokaster. These thresholds demarcate the lines between private and public, inside and outside, sheltered and exposed.
In the Albanian Pavilion, these thresholds are extended and extruded within an elliptical form. Users entering the assigned pavilion’s room are faced with two options: walking tangentially around the elliptical structure or going through the portals into the vaulted space. When the vaulted passageways cross with one another, new void conditions and geometrical intersections are generated. The resultant is an architectural maze where the edges of crossing vaults are redefined. The vaulted trajectories bend and produce spatial awareness, capable of transforming the perception of place and time. The crossing vaults offer a multiplicity of paths and views, freedom of movement, and a democratic array of choices within a curated space and experience. The vault end conditions are always associated with entry point or with contemplative places where art is being displayed.
Immaterial qualities of space are achieved through formal geometry and innovative construction methods. The Pavilion’s structure is conceived as a waffle plywood frame system. Expanded metal mesh is affixed to the wood structure and follows the contours of the vaulted geometries. White plaster finish covers the metal lath to achieve a smooth and continuous surface.
The Albanian Pavilion is not only a freespace but a safespace. The kind of abstract space that inspires, nurtures the spirit, bends time and transcends mental boundaries. A space that expands possibilities of movement, a space that stimulates senses and triggers the imagination. A transcendental space that is uninhibited by construction methods and tectonics. A space that evokes our architectural history and curates the colorful, reflective, and sublime artwork of our most beloved contemporary Albanian artists.
Aquarium and Marine Research Center, Porto Palermo, Albania
Harvard University Graduate School Design, James Templeton Kelley Thesis Prize Nomination
The project proposes a Figure | Figure typology that enables two disparate environments to intertwine into one existence and experience. This new duality reconsiders spatial hierarchies established by oppositional dichotomies such as figure-ground, solid-void, object-subject; where one condition inherently always supersedes another. Informed by the program for an aquarium, space here is not conceived as the residual background trace of the relationships between objects, but as an experience in reciprocity with the environment of water and marine life.
In contemporary architecture, the fascination with surface (facade) and its meanings, readings, image, and visual effect, have killed the idea of space. This project is about inhabiting spatial form. The paradigm of two congruent Figure | Figure continuums that do not mix is explored through the study of Triply Periodic Minimal Surfaces and Parametric Variants. Minimal Surfaces demarcate the two reciprocities and provide the structural and programmatic logic for the project. The transparency of the demarcation enables an immersive experience of water and marine life; multiple materialities, suspended gravity, layered transparencies, flows, views and temporalities. This reciprocity between water and human space reconsiders the relationship between the human body, water, and architecture. The mediums of water and space articulate and envelop each other, contributing to the production of a new cultural, educational, and phenomenological experience.
Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning, Toronto, Canada
Work performed at NADAAA www.nadaaa.com
Regional Airport, Bucharest, Bulgaria
The project is a regional airport. As is the case for most airports, the site is flat and devoid of any topographical variation. Airports fall under the shed typology, where the roof is the most important part of the envelope. It is the portal to the city, the first impression that visitors and locals experience as they arrive from above. The spatial concept for this project are rhythms and thresholds. The design allows for innovative and expressive articulation of the roofscape and spaces. This is achieved through the reticulation of spatial and structural bays, which are conceptualized as cells, complex parts instantiated into the armature, the whole. Reticulation prefers hierarchical gradients of manipulation in forms of network patterns, rather than simple modular aggregations, establishing a cohesive and figural field condition.
The cell is asymmetrical in all directions, providing differentiated results and complexities depending on its placement and orientation within the armature. There are eight parameters, such as beam and column dimensions, and slab thicknesses, that are designed and adjusted to respond to different programmatic conditions. The parametric cell can behave as a structural framework, an enclosure or a floor surface. One leg of the cell is angulated allowing for differentiated spatial and lighting conditions. One side of the cell is open-ended enabling spatial variety when aggregated. The design of the armature is informed by the size of the airport bays. Wider bays accommodate international travel. Narrow bays serve regional and domestic travel. Complex relationships occur not only between the primary cells but also between the secondary cells, the skylights.
Parametric design allows for a rule based design process and rapid versioning. It means establishing a system of measurable and variable factors that define the design and its behavior. Parameters are designed as a set of guidelines. Contextual, structural, programmatic, aesthetic, and environmental data are some of the key drivers informing the design. Versioning, variation, transformation, optimization, adaptability of parts to situations, complex relationships created among parts, and rationalization of form and surfaces are some of its advantages.
Tirana Multimodal Station, First Prize International Design Competition
Charged with establishing easier connections to the main activities and services in the heart of Tirana, the design creates a hybrid typology that combines a transportation center with recreational facilities. It allows commuters to navigate fluidly among different modes of transportation - light rail, commuter rail, buses, cars and bicycles - and offers opportunities for people to shop, eat, work and play. The site, at a distance from the city center, incorporates a hotel and office tower and many community amenities: event venues, park, soccer field, tennis courts, swimming pools, and cafes. A retail spine unifies the diverse program and creates transitional space between horizontal and vertical. Undulating bands modulate natural light, and the tower contributes density as well as iconography. In keeping with the scale of the city, the design creates a commuter and communal hub resonant with the future development of Tirana.
The Chapel is a landmark on a beachscape. A place for partial shade, shelter, gathering, and contemplation. A space conducive to meditation. The project is comprised of four thin precast concrete shells joined at six points of connection. The geometry of the shells are minimal surfaces, optimal in the use of materials and structure.
In the age of political instability, alternative facts, and increasingly environmental and natural disasters, a safe room provides physical and psychological safety.
Bunker cabin is designed for a young couple with a passion for music and gardening. The cabin is conceived in layers. The outer shell is light and ephemeral. It filters light and directs views. It opens up the sleeping and living areas to the outside, creating a direct and strong connection with nature.
The inner shell hosts the functional aspects of the house, with the safety room at the very center. The spiral staircase takes the owners to the basement where the very thick concrete shell protects them from the possibility of nuclear disaster. This room also doubles up as a music recording studio and a virtual reality space.
At the upper level, the spiral staircase leads to a hidden greenhouse; where flowers, herbs, vegetables are grown year round for consumption in a controlled environment. Also, at the roof, photovoltaic panels and water storage equipment ensure self-sufficiency and independence from the grid.
This project explores the possibility of inhabiting the interstitial spaces created by a network of tubular elements. The Playground is an interactive public art, a sculpture that kids and adults can engage and play with.
Aesop Store in SoHo, NYC
Work performed at NADAAA www.nadaaa.com
House in New Hampshire
Work performed at NADAAA www.nadaaa.com
Harvard Tozzer Library and Offices, Boston, Massachusetts
Work performed at Kennedy & Violich Architecture www.kvarch.net
Design Media 3 Student Work, California College of the Arts, 2014
The assignment explores aggregated geometries, assembly methods, scalar variation, tiling, symmetry, repetition, and differentiation. The main parameter driving the design is the manipulation of apertures that enables artificial light to pass through. The time and cost of fabrication (lasercutting time, the cost of materials and 3D printing) are also considered. Students document their final proposals through drawings and present full scale fabricated prototypes of their designs.
Lowney Office Renovation, Oakland, California
Work performed at Lowney Architecture www.lowneyarch.com
Design Media 2 Student Work, California College of the Arts, 2015
For the first assignment, the geometry and the performative aspect of everyday objects are represented through a series of analytical drawings and orthographic projections using AutoCAD. Important considerations in the development of this assignment include drawing position, geometric precision, line-weight, construction lines, degree of abstraction, and the overall composition.
Solid void is the second assignment. Patterned images are used to give cues to the project’s structure, systematic approach, and distribution of voids. 3D Rhino and physical modeling are a fundamental part of this assignment which employs a subtractive process for the production of double negative (intersection of voids) spatial conditions. Students represent their projects through a series of diagrams, solid void models and their inverse. Through the production of the inverse models, students learn different fabrication strategies and techniques. They obtain a better understanding of the connection between digital design and the precise analog execution of their projects.
While the second assignment is a subtractive approach to design, the third one explores an additive process of aggregation. It asks students to rigorously investigate part to whole relationships through the design and production of module types, ultimately to be aggregated into a folly. A folly is an art or architectural object in the landscape. The dimensions and site of the folly are determined by the intention of each project. The size and materiality of the module are specific to each project. Simple geometric operations such as mirroring, scaling, rotating, translating, tessellating, pleating, carving, and folding, can yield an array of aggregate outcomes and produce profound internal and external spatial conditions. Abstract images are given to students to spur the process of their folly design. Students analyze their image and determine its geometric and systematic qualities. This analysis is applied as the underlying logic to generate the module, the connection, the aggregation, and the overall form of the final folly. Students are encouraged to keep in mind material qualities and attributes throughout the generative process, allowing for an open iterative dialogue between analysis, operation, material and form.
TD Garden Proshop, Boston, Massachusetts
In collaboration with C7A, www.c7a.com
Photography by Kwesi Budu-Arthur
Multifamily Residential Housing, Albania
The interior design logic informs the exterior envelope and establishes the massing character of the project. The site is comprised by two adjacent parcels. The two land owners merged their properties seeking an efficient site planning strategy that would allow them to consolidate the zoning setback requirements while optimizing the overall building footprint. The floor plan places two residential clusters, facing opposite directions, each with its own interdependent circulation core. The design deploys the concept of rotational symmetry, resulting in a highly articulated facade.
Broad Museum, Los Angeles, California
Located in Los Angeles, The Broad Museum is a multimedia museum. It is a permanent think-tank for artists, an incubator for the arts. It provides opportunistic spaces that encourage experimentation and improvisation. The museum challenges conventional requirements of the museum as a repository of artifacts by minimizing its support spaces and maximizing its potential for creation and artistic exchange.
Circulation of people and art through exterior and interior spaces drives the design. In addition to the traditional 90-degree wall of the Exhibition Hall and Active Archive Galleries, a different type of gallery, the flexible Intervention Space, connects and enables the interaction between art and architecture. The geometry of the enclosure of the Intervention Space is crystal-like facets. The form provides a different type and quality of space for artists to respond to, such as transparency and temporality of light throughout the day. This Intervention Space also enables the circulation of art through exhibits and turns the routine of art circulation into an event. Space is sectioned so portions of the gallery can be closed off to the public depending on curatorial needs. On the ground level, the Forum is a multifunctional indoor-outdoor theater, gallery, or amphitheater. Stairs immediate to the Forum separate the amphitheater environment from the urban context, while still maintaining openness and connectivity between the two streets bordering the site. Exterior amphitheater space could be used for gatherings, as a temporary sculpture park, or projecting digital art on the exterior walls, enabling passersby to engage with art without going inside the museum.
Work performed at Lowney Architecture www.lowneyarch.com