The major aspiration of this project was to achieve greater sustainability through large design moves that work with the earth’s natural energy flows and cycles. Such moves, like careful solar orientation and the creation of a high performance envelope to enhance environmental comfort while minimizing the requirement for mechanically operated systems; and where mechanical systems are necessary, they are employed in the most sustainable manner possible.
Another major focus for the project involves an investigation in structure, geometry and materials that explores the possibilities of using the inherent physical qualities of hyperbolic paraboloids to maximize the performance of the structural envelope while using the minimum amount of material. The result is an impactful large scale space with sweeping geometry that is mindful of sustainability without compromising interior quality and sensorial experience.
Structural System and Envelope
The structural skin enclosing the gallery spaces consists of a stacked plank wood lattice system. The 38mm x 160mm members are built up and assembled on site in an overlapping manner to create a woven two way structural diagrid system with greatly enhanced performance. The form of the roof consists of three hyperbolic paraboloids (hypars) spanning across the gallery spaces. Hypars possess intrinsic geometric properties that maximize structural performance while using the minimum amount of material; allowing them to span large distances with an extremely thin assembly. As wood is the only structural building material that is renewable, carbon neutral and low energy, the material choice for the lattice significantly enhances the ecological performance of the project.
A strategy of layering was used in the design of the envelope, in which layers are added and subtracted in response to local conditions. Robustness is the quality of being able to withstand stresses, pressures, or changes in procedure or circumstance. A system, organism or design may be said to be “robust” if it is capable of coping well with variations in its operating environment with minimal damage, alteration or loss of functionality.
The skin of the building was inspired by Islamic screens, admired for their intricate fractal patterns and ability to regulate internal environmental conditions. By modulating, heat, light and air the screens are capable of creating interior microclimates that balance solar orientation, program requirements and user comfort.
The panels maintain the fractal origins of Islamic patterns while introducing a new fractal pattern based on the golden section which was developed by contemporary mathematicians and designers. An interesting characteristic of the pattern is that is a-periodic, which means it does not repeat in a regular or tileable manner, yet diagonals can be drawn at regular intervals that align perfectly with the corners of the panels. This creates an ideal situation for a structural diagrid mesh that supports the screen panels from behind. This establishes an integral geometric and physical link between the structure and skin of the gallery. A generative algorithm was developed to propagate the pattern across each facade and introduce perforations in response to solar orientation and interior climactic requirements. The panels would be lasercut to achieve the mass customization required by the adaptive patterning.