Thursday, October 1, 2009

Schematics & Materials, Light, Color, Form

The prototype lighting strategy will maximize daylighting with the buildings will be oriented in the optimum way to efficiently use solar energy. Large curtain walls allow light into the lobby from the entrance. Interior and exterior light shelves direct light upward, filling the space with light and reducing direct glare. Private versus public space deserves deliberation in the restrooms as privacy is of key importance, but lighting is vital as well. In these spaces, indirect diffused light will enter through clerestories and openings in the ceiling planes. The architectural form of the envelope dictates the placement and shape of the windows. By design, each restroom will have natural light entering the space on at least two sides in addition to natural overhead light. A view towards the exterior featuring a picnic arbor will be incorporated into each restroom. This view will remind users of the arbors knowing that many motorists stop at rest areas solely for the purpose of using these restrooms. This vertical opening will be small, one directional glass as not to disrupt the privacy and will not reveal any private areas from the exterior. Landscaping following the contours of the building exterior will prevent travelers from approaching this window as well.

Florescent lights will be used because of their energy efficiency and color rendering potential. Artificial lights will be on automatic sensors that sense the amount of light needed based on the exact time of year. A manual switch override is available if necessary.

The history of the American roadside is inspiration for the night lighting. Flashy diners flagged the roadside starting in the 1950s and attracted motorists through their large eye-catching signs, colors and lighting. The Las Vegas strip developed its ostentatious aesthetic in anticipation of luring drivers off the road into casinos, restaurants, and hotels. The tradition continues today with large billboards reading “McDonalds 5 miles ahead, Turn Right” followed by a large arch visible from miles and highly illuminated at night.

Each prototype will interpret this flashy roadside manner by utilizing bright colored night illumination. Serving a dual purpose, this illumination will both attract motorists and increase safety in a well-lit night environment. Caution will be taken to ensure the proposed lighting will not direct footcandles upward. The glow will be emitted outward and the level of illumination will be calculated to ensure minimal environmental disturbance. LED lights are used for all exterior lighting including but not limited to the building fa├žade, parking, and walkways because of their high energy efficiency.

The region of each site dictates the building’s color scheme, mainly through inherent properties of the local materials. White will be used as a main color element at all facilities as it is a fresh, clean, modern color. All materials in this project are chosen for their inherent sustainable properties. Painted sheetrock is minimal in the facilities as other local materials provide more of a sense of place and identity to each region. Materials will be used in unconventional applications to provide a unique sensory experience for travelers passing through the region. Through the architectural form and materials, an effort will be made to realize the surrounding culture in the building.

The models below are conceptual and do not directly suggest forms for the prototypes. They are abstractions of inspiration taken from each landscape.

The undulations and peaks of the Appalachian Mountains inspire the form of the rest area in the mountain region. Characteristics of the architecture will be substantial, dense and angular simulating the landscape. Indigenous regional materials including wood, stone, rock, brick, and concrete will be used in the design. Each material will be used in a unique application. An example of this unique application is the 9x9 House by Titus Bernhard Architecture. Pebble stones are held within a metal wire frame structure to form the exterior walls of the house. FSC certified wood is specified for all wood products. The color palette for the mountain region includes earth tones such as shades of brown, evergreen, and terracotta brick.

A double-sided (interior and exterior) vegetated wall will be included in the design featuring indigenous plants from the Appalachian Mountain region. The wall will be thick and substantial with a window opening in the vegetation showing the thickness of the architecture. Exterior paved walkways will be permeable using products such as Drivable Grass to reduce runoff and increase the amount of vegetation on site.

Low, flat land characteristic of this area and the farmland covering the landscape influence the form of the building as well as the shapes and contours of farmland. The building will extend in various directions on a flat ground plane to emphasize this quality and use abstracted forms of geometric shapes. The use of an overhang will be incorporated into the project creating an overhead plane that gives protection from the elements as well as creates a more intimate sense of place with the horizontal landscape.

Polished concrete with a high content of fly ash will be used as flooring for the prototype building to keep maintenance to a minimum. A vegetated wall will be incorporated on the exterior of this building wrapping around in a manner influenced by the contours of field crops. Metal will be incorporated into the project such as Chemetal weathered steel, a product that contains 85% recycled content and can be recycled after its useful life. Other materials will be included in innovative fashions such as sticks were used in the Pio Pio Restaurant by Sebastian Mariscal (the third photo in at the top of the slide). Vernacular architecture will influence the designs, but will be abstracted to create a unique sense of place for travelers.

The piedmont color strategy draws inspiration from regional crops including red, orange, evergreen, leaf green, wheat, and terracotta brick. These colors will come from the inherent properties of materials as well as in lighting.

Motorists approach this building on the east, while boaters approach on the west making two main entrances a necessity. The fluidity of water is inspiration to the design as well as the wildlife inhabiting the nearby Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. Other influences include the structural architecture of both boats and cars and the contrast between them. Steel cables containing recycled content will be used as a reflection of ropes and cables associated with boats.

Wood docks and the wooden slat construction that is identified with them is a major influence with this design. FSC certified wood is an important material to this design and will be used in both horizontal and vertical applications. Both curvilinear and linear forms will contrast the forms of the linear man-made canal and the nearby curvilinear coastline. Traditional shingles of coastal homes are imitated through the use of tiles in both interior and exterior application. The Worldwide Fund for Nature building by Rau (upper left image on slide) demonstrates how these tiles can be used on a curvilinear exterior application.

Blue, the color of water is inspirational to the color scheme in the coastal region. Other colors will include shades of brown, green, and terracotta brick.

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