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Plan
Plan

The building seen from the ground plane
The building seen from the ground plane

Interior patio with timber steps
Interior patio with timber steps

Office
Office




PROJECTINDEX
 
IN.GRADIENT
Rotterdamse Academie van Bouwkunst
ARCHITECTURE

My design for a multi-occupancy building for dwelling, work and commercial amenities on Hoogstraat in Rotterdam seeks to launch Rotterdam as a layered city. This first step entails gradual transitions between public and private space. An enduring and accommodating architecture has to create opportunities without causing exclusion. The scheme accordingly rails against the prevailing tendency towards a 'segregated city' with increasingly impermeable barriers between public and private.
Having made an analysis of the access systems of public, semi-public and private buildings, I opted for the French en suite model as an organizing principle. Consisting of rooms strung together without corridors or fixed circulation zones, this principle has far-reaching consequences for the way the complex is used. Access,
for instance, is informed by an element of dependence. To reach a particular room you are obliged to cross another room first. Being identical, the rooms are eminently interchangeable and can be used for a broad range of purposes.
My design consists of a concrete carcass of rooms and openings. The rigid structure of uniform rooms sports a wide and varied array of openings whose size and position is crucial to how they are used. These openings bring about gradual distinctions between the rooms. Light penetration, reachability, visibility and physical accessibility are different for each room. A specially developed 'toolbox' gives an overview of the potentials and limitations of the different openings. For the rest, only a limited number of patios and vertical circulation cores have been fixed in the design. Added elements such as timber doors and timber stairs introduce a dynamic component whereby the building's users can decide among themselves the measure of privacy each requires by opening or closing off doors. The 'topology' of rooms and openings generates a number of 'use zones'. These zones have different levels of public accessibility for different groups of users. This determines the potential for the various commercial and residential formats. These potentials are fairly fluid, clear and direct at times, unpredictable at others.
Designing the carcass is only the first step. The building's users are responsible for developing the concept further and fleshing out the structure. The dynamics of use are reflected in both the interior and the exterior. The outward appearance is continually changing as a result. As for the rules of play, they reside in the carcass; once the building has been taken into use the designer's role is over.