M.Arch Design Thesis

DEGREES OF PERMANENCE_UCL RESEARCH CENTRE FOR EMERGING SCIENCES

Commendation (Design)

Pubished in ‘Best of the Student Shows 2011’, Blueprint Magazine, September 2011 (UK)

My fifth year thesis project is a proposal for a UCL research centre for emerging sciences in Camden, London. The brief requires a variety of high quality, highly serviced laboratory spaces capable of quick and frequent adaptation to respond to the latest technological advances. The building must also respond to the human requirement for place and identity by providing quality spaces capable of supporting and encouraging communication and cross-fertilisation between research disciplines. The thesis attempts to resolve the apparent contradiction between the flexible but essentially place-less functionality of an ‘Archigram’ plug-in system and the civic need for place and accumulated memory within the city.

The building consists of a heavy, permanent, concrete plinth embedded in the site. This servant zone responds to the existing urban fabric and contains the service spine and circulation as well as workshops, support spaces and static accommodation.

The flexible laboratory spaces above consist of lightweight steel frame pavilions. The volumetric pods are pre-fabricated and then transported to site and assembled before being craned into place and connected to the infrastructural network. This ‘plug-and-play’ system optimises the quality of the factory-finished laboratory units, minimises disruption and down-time for the facility and allows for rapid expansion, contraction and modification as required.

While the laboratory spaces are designed to be transient and short-term, the polyvalent plinth element is designed to outlast the functional life of the building, supporting evolving functions while retaining a continuous accumulated memory of inhabitation embedded within the urban fabric.

Exploded core image (left) and structural and cladding models (right) examining the detailed buildup of the proposed core structures. 

Section A-A showing the bridging structure across the underground railway line, the two departmental cores and the connecting pavilion.

Section B-B cut through a selection of accommodation types (left to right: unaffiliated office space, laboratory modules and service fins, departmental core and small self-sufficient laboratory units).

1:50 detail section and elevation of a generic lab, plinth and service fin assemblage. The two distinct tectonics of heavy, permanent infrastructure and lightweight, changeable laboratory modules is carried through into the detailing and facade treatment.

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