Excessively Interior : SciARC Graduate Thesis 2014 : Austin Samson

Through the layering, carving, and manipulation of interior space, a new coherency between architectural conditions can be explored where space is created through the excessive layering of mass and volume and the envelope is a bi-product of the hyper-articulation of those elements.

The use of an envelope as an initiator of the design process has been constantly in flux, always trying to blur the line of inside and outside in order to produce certain levels of ambiguity, moving from the deep column forests of Roman architecture to the intertwining of courtyards and massing, to single surface architecture brought forth by Alejandro Zaera-Polo. This thesis pulls from the likes of Aldo Van-Eyck, more specifically, his pavilion and its ability to continuously transition from inside to outside while at the same time maintaining a clear distinction of space and hierarchy.

The site, Boston City Hall, provides a basis of comparison between the successes of the Van-Eyck pavilion and the apparent failure of Boston City Hall’s ability to activate the surrounding plaza through its ambiguous lower facade.

The program, a typical office tower of varying purposes, allows for the exploration of using an inverted approach to design, by forming space from the inside out, to disrupt the typical pancake floor typology that exists in almost every tower created. This will result in a multitude of spatial typologies within a single tower rather than the same floor being repeated over and over.

Bulge, De-laminate, and Inflate: There are three towers, and each tower has three wall systems employed to create space (an articulate surface, a corrupted surface, and a paneled surface). Each tower explores a different technique to create spatial conditions within the systems as they come in contact with one another. The result is varying degrees of openness or seclusion within each tower. There is then a glass curtain wall employed to further the ambiguity of interior and exterior space within each tower. For example, one tower is fully wrapped but inverts itself on the inside where a second tower utilizes glass to enclose specific volumes throughout.

Carving: Carving, in the form of butchery, as seen in the diagrammatic book “Whole Beast Butchery” is used as a technique to open up the massing in specific areas. As the layering becomes ever more excessive, it becomes more difficult to distinguish between thick massing and thin skin and the volumes they create. Carving is used here as a tool of precision to open the massing back up to those volumes so they do not become lost in the complex surface structure. By doing so, architectural elements such as floor slabs, stair cores, and elevator cores are exposed to the outside. It also allows for pockets of outdoor space to creep into the very center of each tower.

Columns to Volumes: Working without an envelope also allows for new coherency between architectural elements to be explored. Columns can be inflated or de-laminated into volumes seamlessly resulting in a new type of relationship between inside and outside. Central cores can be carved away or bulged out in order create spatial conditions that further integrate the more standard from of design (such as a core) with more unique conditions without having to create separation between the two.

Staggering Floor Plates: The tower typology also gives the opportunity to disrupt the typical stacked floor plates that almost every tower built utilizes. Designing interior first allows for not only differentiating program vertically but horizontally as well while maintaining hierarchy between spaces. Staggering floor plates also allows for outside rethinking of the typical balcony in that exterior tower space is no longer required to hang on the exterior of the building but nestle itself within the tower as well while the use of carving ensures that those spaces remain exterior rather than being buried and lost inside the tower.

Inverting Lobby: Finally, the lobby typology has been completely inverted where one is not inside the tower until they enter the elevator. This is meant to exaggerate the existing government center that almost does the same thing. The use of stilts to elevate the upper floors of the government center allows for movement under the building without ever entering the structure. The same goes for each tower. On the ground floor, a forest of columns reaches upward and eventually translates into volumes that create the lowest inner spaces high off the ground.

Animation: Animated sectioning is used as a design tool during the process in order to discover and capitalize on specific moments within the complexity of each tower.

This project looks to explore the use of unconventional tools as a way to produce new hyper-articulated form.