I just got back from the Monterrey Design Conference this past weekend, filled with lectures that not only wowed architecturally or artistically, but also got me examining things and thinking in new ways, which is always very cool. There are a number of projects to share, but tonight I’ll start with this one, because while I may think there are some design aspects that are not quite fully resolved, I really like how it takes the necessities and plays with them hard, springboarding from the constraints to create a multiple series of wins.
The brief for the project by the city was a for a gymnasium, with a community centre. There were requirements for the size and height of the gym, and a max height for the property. The retail/supermarket on the first floor may have been part of the brief (I can’t remember), but other than that, the developers were allowed to add in whatever they chose. Now, for a gym, you need some deep trusses to support the roof (as having columns in the middle of your playing surface is just a drag for everyone). And so the first of the various nifty bits in this project came in coming up with the idea to use the height of those deep trusses and nestle some residential apartments in between them. The space between the trusses would otherwise have been “wasted” – now instead you’ve got 12 new housing units for the city.
The units themselves are quite nicely done, with a courtyard in the middle, a tall living area, and a small loft that opens onto a deck. I especially like how the countertop becomes the landing for the staircase, and even more so how the huge windows at the end of each unit is angled to provide a vista down the street, rather than looking straight into the building across the way.
This sawtooth edge also is used to good effect in the gym, providing indirect natural light in a way that prevents glare and also protects the windows from errant sports balls. The community room nicely sets out from the building slightly as a glass box, and is attached to the gym via a grand staircase & bleachers, letting it be both separate and part of the gym as needed.
Overall the whole design does a lot of its work vertically, nestling and stacking its functions in and around themselves and the structure until everyone wins: a grocery store, a community space and gym, and apartments with plenty of light, interest, and a view onto the world. Good stuff.