As designers, we need to work with the environment, not against it. We must rethink sustainability and approach it from a holistic stance. This necessitates an understanding of biological functions on every scale- micro and macro- and applying these functions to design.
This investigation begins with a critical examination of the Western perspective of the natural world. For hundreds of years, an anthropocentric view of the world has given people a sense of comfort and has been used as an excuse for the exploitation of every aspect of the planet. A critical examination of this perspective allows us to imagine alternative ways to connect with the world around us. This is crucial, as we live in a time when we are realizing that by depleting the natural world, we are also depleting the human world.
Thinking in this manner, how can we use basic biological material logic on a micro-level for design? A prevalent example of a site rich in employable material is the Hudson River Estuary. Due to erosion of limestone in the watershed, this water is rich with calcium carbonate, a key ingredient in concrete. Harvesting this mineral to, in essence, grow concrete through electro-accumulation, a process known as Biorock, creates new opportunities for the design world. Form is now grown instead of anthropocentrically shaped.
In order to think holistically, this logic must function on a macro-level as well. The Estuary flows alongside the neighborhood of Red Hook in Brooklyn, New York, which is an area that is constantly under the threat of flooding and pollution. How can we employ the macro-logic of an eco-system to address these issues? Wetlands and marshes, the historical origins of the site, are self-regulating systems that protect land from erosion and flooding. Applying this logic to the site, coupled with the structural and formal logic of the new grown structures, creates a completely sustainably-holistic proposal. Design has now become a collaborative effort between man and the natural world; this is the new urban perimeter.
The Beirut Art & Culture Center is a contemporary observatory that promotes a new way of expressing artistic and cultural freedom by giving witness to the merging of several cultures. The center’s presence is meant to be unobtrusive and respectful of the hardships felt in Beirut’s past, while at the same time highlighting the artistic and cultural diversity and freedom of the future. The architecture of the center invites people of all ages and backgrounds, uniting the cultural differences found in Beirut into a positive exchange of artistic expression. The building’s organic shape allows for unique commissioned art exhibits that will put Beirut on the map.
En Plein Air Tower
New York, New York
This project was done during my semester at the Center for Architectural Science and Ecology in Manhattan, so there was a focus on sustainability.The proposal, the Plein-Air Tower, is located in Downtown Manhattan near the Brooklyn Bridge. It utilizes an operable ETFE skin to redirect existing wind flows and create an interstitial boundary layer for year-round thermal comfort through natural ventilation and self-shading. This interstitial boundary layer is in between the program cores and the ETFE skin. This layer not only creates thermal comfort, but also interesting spaces in which you feel as though you are outside but are not. This unique level of comfort makes this tower different than other towers in Manhattan where outdoor spaces at higher levels are impossible.
With no specific scale or program, the focus of this project is creating a structure that includes two structural architectural systems. The dependent translucent folded plate system acts as a sort of cladding for the independent gridshell structure. This integrated system creates an alluring, inviting, and enticing architectural experience that is completely engulfing. This exploration is about taking the structural and making it architecturally interesting in ways that have not been seen before.