Thomas Aaron Day
Advanced Design Studio: Williams/Tsien
It is a mass.
It is a mass whose presence is verified through inhabitation.
It is a place where the study of Andean culture is sheltered and nurtured.
Architecture is often thought of as parts which together form a whole. The center for Andean Studies in Cuzco, Peru works against a series of parts through the carving away from a mass which is the site and building form. The project is at once a divide within the ancient city of Cuzco and a link for the inhabitants to their cultural past. It offers a place for them to synthesize their own history through a learning center and exhibition space.
Within the building, what could be traditionally understood as service spaces are now interwoven with public spaces and programs resisting rigid divisions between public and private until they must divide. The façade is an extension of this carving, reading as a homogeneous wrapper, punctuated by large apertures and smaller ones creating a play between filigree and form.
In a bustling city where old meets new, the project offers a garden for repose and reflection. Through the garden we enter into the building, internalizing the city through study and development. Through the garden, the public and private are unified by the mass.
Coney Islands takes as its starting point the rise of sea levels along the global coast. The project uses Coney Island as a testing ground for social and spatial redefinition of community relationships through the form of the connected islands. The project fully integrates physical and social infrastructure into one connective system that gives the Coney Island community a high level of resilience.
Existing tall residential towers are viewed as the most resilient physical construction, so the clusters they form become the framework for land salvaged from the water rise. A dynamic, inhabited wall is created between the existing towers in order to house social and physical infrastructure necessary for the community's resilience. The wall branches off into a self-sufficient, connective system for the new islands. A turbine field harnesses energy, constructed wetlands with biking & pedestrian paths allow physical connection and mitigate wave action, trains and ferries connect to the larger metropolitan area, and the parts of the wall filters and stores stormwater. Additionally, the free space within the wall's boundary becomes a new urban type - a zone of democratic contestation in which the island residents and those from islands nearby use the space through a process of petition and election.