Thursday, 20 June 2013

Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Technical Training College

This project was undertaken in conjunction with Bhavna Solanki, a colleague from NTU. Earlier in the year she offered me the visual role in the delivery and design of this technical training college in Kenya and the first sketch phase of the project can be seen in this earlier blog post The project consists of an education hub where technical and management skills are taught, a workshop for practical artisan training and tented accommodation. The plans had already been finialised by Bhavna but the form and colour scheme in the ferrocement facade and the details of the classroom were a collaborative effort. It was in the visual production where I could express my creativity and the main aim was to capture the essence of how the courtyard re-represents the surrounding landscape.

Sustainability and conservation are at the core of  this project since it sits in the Ol Pejeta nature reserve and the original intention was to use rammed earth as the main structural element. For financial reasons Ferrocement became the preferred option but a dye could be included to fit the buildings into their context. Recesses in the facade brake the flat plane and give it a rhythm whilst providing areas for seating.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Design Thesis Conclusion and Reflection

I have just finished the final model to hand in tomorrow and I thought that there is no better time to reflect on what I found out during this project. 

The design thesis has proven that the boundary where land meets water is a highly influential force in defining both physical and social characteristics of a region. Boston is the perfect example of a town that has grew and succeeds on the continued development of transitional edge conditions.

The demand to lengthen the canal system and to further protect the town and farmland from flooding presents an opportunity to redefine the edge between salt and fresh water. The redefinition of this edge with a high density program can use the creation of a new boundary as an interchange between the new demographics of Boston. This mixing and exchange between people is currently lacking in the town and causing considerable tension. Furthermore, the seasonal nature of work undertaken by immigrants has left a negative perception towards how they spend there time and how it impacts the town. The thesis established that a new edge can create mussel farms which dilute the seasonal fluctuations and also act as a filtration system for the river Witham.

The importance of this boundary is celebrated in the form of the building with views of different water transitions being highlighted as one uses the various building functions. The light rail platform sits over the pump house where the user can witness the change of water from calm on the canal side to turbulent as it is pumped out. The bar is slightly elevated to reveal the horizon which usually is completely disconnected from Boston. Suspension of the accommodation block over the aqueduct creates a physical relationship between the water transition and the building.

The materials used in the building are mostly concrete and sheet piling below the datum level for resistance against the hydrostatic pressures. Above the datum level recycled pallets from surrounding industries are charred and water power washed and then turned into louvres and cladding systems. 

In conclusion the building sits across the river Witham and becomes an expression of the surrounding landscape in relation to a common datum level. The masterplan seeks to challenge the current social and economic conditions of Boston and the greater Wash area whilst the intervention designed in this thesis facilitates the masterplan strategy.