LOOM is a proposal for a temporary installation in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Loom's ambition is to encourage speculation about the next generation of post-industrial relics, by conceptually drawing on past moments of industry while creating a singular environmental experience.
above: Linen "bleachgreens", circa 1870
The twin gantry cranes Sampson and Goliath are functional icons of Belfast’s once-dominant shipbuilding industry. They stand over thirty stories tall, looming over the Harland and Wolff shipyard and one of the world’s largest dry-docks. They are taller and broader than any building in Belfast. The cranes are symbols of Belfast’s urban identity. Although they are an official landmark, their continued existence beyond their current use is not certain.
The gantry cranes are rarely commissioned to work on a large vessel, rather they can spend months, sometimes years, sitting unused. The dormant cranes frame a unique, massive void.
“Loom” reworks that void with a hanging lattice, descending to the surface below in a half-catenary curve that is moored to the earth by a living garden. The lattice is designed to be easily removed and reinstalled in the event of a commission, and the garden below is positioned at the far end of the Harland and Wolff shipyards, an area little used and closest to the new residential and commercial development known as the Titanic Quarter.
The lattice is composed of strips of woven, jute, erosion-control fabric. These are anchored by mounds of earth seeded in alternating rows with yellow-flowering rape-seed and blue-flowering flax, two crops that evoke Northern Ireland’s transformation from a rural to industrial economy through linen and seed oils. Over the course of the installation these colorful crops will blend into an undulating field. The colors of this field are distinctly non-sectarian, in a city where specific colors - green, red, blue and orange - can evoke anxiety and emotion, the blue and yellow of Loom embrace Belfast’s new civic identity.
Belfast is a city in rebirth after decades of sectarian strife. In recent years, the city has worked to reconstitute urban spaces, soften barriers that once separated antagonists, and create a new civic iconography. Some of these efforts have been effective, others have been viewed with skepticism. The gantry cranes Sampson and Goliath are universally considered symbols of the city. This is a post-conflict development. The collective understanding of what these cranes represent was not driven by a developer’s initiative or publicity campaign. The cranes are neutral territory, they are accidental icons that speak to the strength of Belfast without sectarian divides.
Aggregate and Soil: 110m x 50m x 3m = 16,500m3 (360ft x 165ft x 9.8ft = 582,000ft3)
Archotus is redesigning this two-story townhouse to optimize function through all stages of a family's evolution. This requires turning the house upside down.
Currently, the townhouse is divided into two separate units on two floors, each with its own HVAC, water and electric meters, and entrances. The client wanted to return the townhouse to a traditional single-family configuration, with a parlor floor downstairs and bedrooms up. We proposed something different. Rather than give up the second unit and lose the potential for rental income, we dedicated the back 1/3rd of the first floor to an autonomous efficiency apartment that can also be used as a large bedroom, or a mother-in-law suite, or a temperamental teen-ager hideout, or a crash pad for a jobless post-college returnee. An accommodation for all potential changes in the life of a family, and perhaps AirBnB.
To do this, the living space is brought to the second floor where there is the potential for loft-style living: open plan, more light, higher ceilings, and more privacy. Downstairs the efficiency gets its own entrance off the alley, and the door between the efficiency and the main space can be readily accessible or sealed, depending on the family's needs at any given time.
RE-BALL! - RAISE/RAZE
2015-16_competition design_art installation-project management_Washington, DC
Archotus started this project as consultant to The Dupont Underground, an arts organization that is reactivating an abandoned streetcar station in Washington DC to support and exhibit contemporary arts practice. As the project developed we stepped into a more formal role at Dupont Underground, directing the organization as it opened its doors to the public for the first time.
Re-ball! was an open design competition that asked entrants to repurpose 650,000 plastic balls, from the National Building Museum’s 2015 Beach installation by Snarkitecture, using the balls to create an installation in a portion of the Dupont Underground’s 75,000ft2 platforms and tunnels.
In March 2016, we gathered a jury of internationally recognized artists, designers and curators to chose a winning proposal from ninety-three entries representing nineteen different nations. New York-based design studio Hou de Sousa took the honors. Their proposal, Raise/Raze, was based on a single simple move: create uniform, modular blocks from the balls, and use these blocks to build structures and environments that the visitor could interact with and alter as they desired.
Raise/Raze was executed on a limited budget, in a limited time frame. It transformed the chaos of the Beach’s giant ball pit into the structured play of a sandbox. Most importantly, Raise/Raze also gave Dupont Underground multiple opportunities to engage its community and its audience, and refine its mission and identity. The installation opened April 30th, 2016, and sold out its entire one month run in two days.
In addition to creating and running the competition, Archotus was project manager for the installation buildout and exhibition. In six weeks, over 1400 volunteers passed through the venue to help build the installation.
The Underground comprises 75,000ft2 (7,500m2) of raw, un-redeveloped space, less than a mile from the White House. It lies beneath Dupont Circle, at the nexus of Washington DC’s cultural, civic, and commercial life. There is no other space like it in the Washington. With Raise/Raze, Dupont Underground established its mission to bring contemporary arts programming to the District that might not be an easy fit in more conventional venues.
As a building typology, the townhouse suffers from front-back schizophrenia. Some have a street-centric presence, front porches and stoops that encourage hanging about. Others are socially awkward up front but have interesting interior lives, and, ideally, private space in the back that makes up for the inability to relate up front.
These differences reflect the social prerogatives of the time they were built. Our townhouse project in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington DC is a perfect example of the introverted townhouse. It was built in 1978, in the midst of the Carter Administration, when Washington DC was the murder capital of the nation and the city was in the final throes of post-war white-flight.
Our townhouse was built in a moment of optimism, part of a program to provide new housing stock in neighborhoods where the people who could afford new homes were looking for them in leafy suburbs. It was a townhouse built to compete with the cul-de-sac rambler. Despite its central urban location, its first priority was the car. It’s second priority was security, and its third priority was, well, a sunken living room.
With its one car garage dominating the front facade, and predicable, derivatively historicist fenestration, the townhouse has an uninviting street presence. On the first floor, a dark, narrow kitchen divided the sunken living room from a quasi-formal dining area; on the second floor tiny bathrooms were hemmed in by unnecessarily large circulation space. Everywhere, residual Victorian notions of the division of space based on divisions of gender and labor were fighting hard with 1970s Free To Be You and Me.
Yanking this property into a more contemporary mode took several steps. Our first was to blow the kitchen open. Walls on the ground floor needed to do more than just divide things. We used millwork storage blocks to delineate spaces and create continuity from front to back.
Eventually the street presence and rear yard will need to be addressed, but that will be in future phases.
Above: exploded axonometric showing interior renovation strategies. Below: before renovation
2015_competition entry_Winnipeg, CA
Sacrif(ice) is a proposal for a seasonal installation in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Colloquially known as "Winterpeg" for its extreme cold, Winnipeg has experienced warmer and warmer winters, as climate change accelerates.
This installationreferences Manitoba’s climatic and geographic history and projects forward to offer a physical document of present and future climate change.
Glacier (accelerated)... Beneath a minimal temple structure a large block of ice receives the traces of day-to-day changes in temperature, incrementally transformed by drips from vessels above. Over the course of the winter installation the Sacrif(ice) iceblock thaws and reforms, with saline rose water staining, deforming, and impregnating its surface.
Welcome to the Anthropocene, Vitruvius.
The structure draws from an ancient architectural typology: the temple as primative hut, an enclosing device to denote a place of shelter and worship. This hut reflects its environment, its four columns and lintels disappearing, mirroring the sky, the snow, and the installation's visitors; reminding those who pass of their own role in the sacrifice.
The stages of Lake Agassiz, from 16,000BCY to 11,000BCY, showing drainage paths and events.
Forgotten Topographies... 11,000 years ago, Winnipeg sat at the bottom of glacial Lake Agassiz, along with a large portion of the central North American continent. Over 4000 years Agassiz’s extents fluctuated as the surrounding ice sheets melted and reformed. At various points the Lake burst its boundaries, sending rivers of fresh water into the oceans, in the process sculpting valleys and rivers, altering sea level and salinity, and effecting climate world-wide. In addition to the geologic and paleoclimatic evidence of this, we have anthropologic evidence in the form of flood mythologies found in cultures throughout the world.
Sacri(fice) provides an accelerated encounter with glacial change, encouraging reflection on the acceleration of climate change provoked by human actions.
Water and Salt... Over three-hundred clear plastic vessels hang in rows between the lintels, exposed to the sun and elements. The vessels contain a saline rose water solution, fed by a bladder system supported within the lintels. Rose water is chosen to evoke the scent of a warmer season and latitude, its coloring contrasts with the ice block. Bottles at the periphery are pure water, thaw begins at 0˚C. Working inward, the rose water solution in the bottles becomes more saline, in the center thaw begins at -18˚C. The daily temperature shift, cloud cover, and sun angle dictate the amount and location of saline drip onto the ice block below, melting, or building up its surface and staining it magenta. UV rays further degrade the block, creating pinholes that will receive the magenta stain.
Day-by-day extents of dripping on the top surface of the ice block for the month of February for years 2011-2015, in response to temperature shifts shown below.
The Sacrif(ice) installation is recurring, with each year’s ice block cored and stored for display the following year. The cores become a unique record of climatic changes over the course of years, each core containing different degrees of melt, freeze and stain.
2015_in progress_San Francisco, CA_900ft2
SixFoot20 specializes in fusing street foods from different cultures. Currentlyoperating from a utility tricycle equipped with a hot plate and ice box, the laundromat at 439 Duboce Avenue in San Francisco will be SixFoot20’s first bricks-and-mortar location.
We wish to bring the street into the restaurant and architecturally express the hybridized nature of the menu through materials and layers. As much as is allowable by San Francisco’s historic overlay restrictions, we will open the facade. Sometime in the past 25 years, the laundromat’s classic recessed vitrine storefront was replaced with fixed plexiglass panels. We will maintain the same proportions but replace the vitrine with vertical bifold windows. Benches in front of the windows will double as steps, patrons do not have to enter through the door, they can climb through the window onto a continuous linear “stoop” that wraps in front of the service counter. The stoop will replace conventional seating.
SixFoot20’s menu not only hybridizes cultures - east and west, north and south - it challenges notions of slow and fast food. Menus are created daily based on the availability of ingredients. Items are cooked to order, and served in paper. Spatially the restaurant will blend expectations of fast and slow, it will feel provisional, but also encourage a desire to linger.
With no budget for expensive materials, we will be repurposing the remains of the laundromat. Broken washers and dryers will be parted out for paneling formwork, and we are currently figuring out how to convert a clothes dryer into a coffee roaster…
CAMP AND COLONY
2015_in progress_Litchfield, ME., 800ft2
In the 1920s, the small towns in an inland lake district in central Maine began dividing parcels of land into small "camps" to attract distant urbanites to invest in inexpensive vacation homes. Aggregations of camps were known as "colonies". At Pleasant Pond land use restrictions were minimal; many camps were built on or over the water, raised up on stilts. Many were built close together, with no setback requirements.
The property on Pleasant Pond Lane includes a camp dating from the original colony. The property has been in the same family for 75 years, its narrow boomerang shape is almost unbuildable by today's zoning restrictions. The family desires a small, winterized, self-sufficient house, in contrast to the uninsulated summer-use-only camp on the property's waterfront.
The proposed house is situated at the highpoint of the site to maximize views and allow the roof solar array to sit above the surrounding forest. The 800 square foot house coincidentally mirrors the site's boomerang shape, to maximize the efficiency of the solar panels year-round and create a gently enclosed private zone on the south exposure. The northern facades will be partially under grade where the hill peaks out, this minimizes the vis-a-vis with a neighboring house and improves envelope efficiency to make up for the home's less-than thermally ideal long, narrow shape. On the interior, the opposing ends will contain adult and children's bedrooms, with living space in the middle, centered on a wood burning stove.
The first phase of the project includes a redesign of the kitchen in the existing camp. The tiny kitchen has two walls that separate it from the larger living areas. These function as sheer walls. The design maintains the structural function of these walls much as a honeycomb has structure, by converting them to built-in storage "boxes", while opening them up to the space beyond.
MUNDO VERDE PCS
2013 - 2015 _ Washington DC _ 58,000ft2/5,800m2_executed while at Studio Twenty Seven Architecture
This project includes the rehabilitation of an abandoned 1924 red brick school building in Washington DC, and a new annex building to house Mundo Verde's early childhood education program.
Mundo Verde emphasizes environmental education and awareness through an expeditionary learning model. This means students spend much of the day outside school walls. The building, site, surroundings, and neighborhood are used as pedagogic tools. Students move from class to class at a younger age than at most schools, so visual connection is critical to staff and students.
On the interior, opening up lines of sight lines became the driver of our design decisions, while on the exterior we wished to maximize the potential of the site as outdoor pedagogic space and reference the neighborhood scale and history without being derivative.
In support of Mundo Verde’s focus on environmental awareness, we minimized the environmental footprint of both buildings; the renovated building attained LEED gold and the annex platinum.
Mundo Verde received a AIA-CAE, Education Facility Design Award, and an AIA Virginia, Excellence in Architecture Award in 2016.
2011 - 2013 _ Washington DC _ 64,000ft2/6400m2 _executed while at Studio Twenty Seven Architecture
Gallaudet University is the preeminent center for Deaf learning and culture in North America. Gallaudet’s intra and extra-muros relationships –intellectual, cultural and physical -are constantly renegotiated as the community evolves and responds to societal and technological changes. The campus is a built document of these changes over 130 years.
This project is a redesign of the public spaces of five aging residence halls. Our task was seemingly an interior project, but the spatial problems within the dormitories were similar to those of the campus as a whole. Multiple generations of planners and their changing priorities had created a disconnected environment with odd cul de sacs, and seemingly abandoned spaces where students should be.
Our first order of business was to claim new sightlines, create new proximities, and establish a sense of interconnectedness. In doing this we stumbled out of the interior and into the larger campus. In a community where all visual stimulus is a potential form of communication, the interior public spaces had little useful relationship with the exterior. Communication and connection was inhibited by outdated approaches to security, and long-superseded assumptions about the needs and behavior of the student body. Wherever possible, we replaced walls with windows and windows with doors, and created public spaces that joined interior and exterior.
"Non-Standard" studio, Fall 2009, with David Adjaye, Teresita Fernandez and Marc McQuade. This project is also published in David Adjaye, Authoring: re-placing art and architecture; Lars Muller Publishers, 2012
The Gowanus Canal is a sewer. It has always been and will always be a sewer, by the simple fact of its geography. The Gowanus lies at the bottom of a bowl. The sides of this bowl are referred to by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection as the Gowanus “sewershed”. As a pre-industrial swamp the Gowanus was a sewer and as an industrial canal it is a sewer.
The sewer system as it was laid out over the years uses the Gowanus Canal as a receiver of last resort. When surrounding sewers are overloaded they flow into the Gowanus. This happens on average 30-50 times a year. No amount of Super Fund remediation will alter this.
Variations on a “soft” remediation strategy have been proposed, whereby the Gowanus is returned to some degree of its pre-industrial state as a swamp. I would argue that, in fact, the Gowanus Canal is a case for a “hard” strategy of total remediation, based on the intractabe nature of its geographic position.
This hard strategy takes advantage of the immanent post-Superfund moment -when the canal is drained and dredged to place a canal beneath the canal, a sub-infrastructure. The surface level canal would, in essence, be “double –bagged”, contained in an impermeable lining, while the sub canal would receive the Combined Sewer Outflow (CSO) and surface runoff through an enveloping filtration substrate that culminates at outlets that flow into the subsurface-canal. The canal, as it exists, is the sum of low intensity moments. Apart from the waterway itself, there is no outstanding objector location that defines the experience of the canal and its surrounds. It is a series of repeated underwhelming moments that collectively produce a sublime effect that is very much dependent on the weather and the viewer’s state of mind.
In the infrastructure I propose there are opportunities for architectural insertions that can serve as higher intensity, experiential, and incidentally pedagogic moments. By creating pathways and occupiable spaces that dramatically reveal and merge the doubling infrastructure, creating places of heightened awareness and communication with the canal itself. The toxic past, and consumptive present are revealed in the catch-basins and leaching zones along the sub-canal route; and chambers at the bottom of aeration voids offer a unique simultaneously subterranean and subaquatic experience
Occupying these spaces is subject to the natural ebb and flow of the canal, which overflows into the subcanal at high tide. On the surface the project is revealed in voids; underground by a designed spelunking. The Gowanus Canal becomes occupiable in a new way, its water is again the water of New York Bay, not tainted by the toxic runoff of the industrial past; yet its essence, and its primary role as infrastructure is unaltered.
Inspired by the collective atavism known as “placebo drift” - the increasing effectiveness of placebos in medical studies - this project seeks an updated approach to historic rituals of health and beauty as generators of physiological and psychological manipulations of space and atmosphere.
Such an update requires an integration of our collective sublimation of science and technology, but equally a reassessment of the natural and artificial while drawing on well-embedded cultural notions of the elements of health. If placebos are many times more effective today than they were 30 years ago and the therapeutic effect of simply “going through the motions” of the modern ritual of health care delivery is the most likely explanation for placebo drift, then this phenomenon underlines our cultural conditioning to respond to given stimulus with collectively shared physiological and psychological feedback. We share this response with cultures and moments in history we would consider to be less developed than our own.
The Placebo Drift is a barge tethered to and surrounded by a deployable island sited on the Manhattan waterfront, accessible by launch.. As counterpoint to the typical frenetic New York health club, this project offers a speculative, slow health ritual, that is dependant on an output of time rather than effort (or money). The barge is conceptually divided into three levels, each devoted to an element traditionally associated with preventative health therapies: water, air and light. Striating these elements indulges our assumption that reordering nature prescriptively bears physiological and psychological effects, both stimulatory and ameliorative, emphasizing basic human environmental responses.
Above: A matrix of architectural strategies that have been used, historically, in the name of improving health - or at least ameliorating conditions in a context of recovery. Modernist principles drawn from late Victorian notions of the virtues of light and air generate spatial, ameliorative strategies. Opposing this are physiological and psychological reactive strategies – rooted in Foucault’s notion of a “coefficient of adversity”. Examples include Arakawa and Gins Biocleave house: designed to throw the body off balance, under the assumption that the physiological response to conditions that challenge the occupant is tonic and restorative. To the same effect, yet coming from an opposing theoretical standpoint is Philippe Rahm, who works under the premise that there is no real line between architecture and the body. His strategies include maniulating atmospheres, including using artificial means to generate physiological effects, a strategy that evokes the modernist mountain top sanitorium, although in the 1920s the hypoxic effects of altitude were not yet known. This matrix lays out these strategies that might be incorporated or rejected.
The barge hull is one large pool divided into soft-sided pools fed by water that circulates through a roof top solar bladder, heating the smaller soft-sided pools, they expand and contract with temperature of water. The stations of the water level introduce the constituent to contrast therapy, of going from one extreme to another, the organizing principle of the barge and fundamental to the idea of placebo as having clinical effect.
The air zone is the void between the hull of the barge and the volume above. Floating on the surface of the pool are several occupiable spheres that seal upon entry. The air oxygen saturation in the sphere increases and decreases in prescribed waves, creating endocrinal effects of hypoxia and hypobaria. Upon completion of the prescribed course, the occupants "roll" their sphere into position under the retractable claw that elevates the sphere to the light level.
The top level is one large volume under 12 oculi that manipulate natural light either as colimators, refracting light down to its constituent wavelegnths and filtering a specific zone, or as fresnels, intensifying daylight properties, or blocking them out completely. The space can then be divided into seperate zones each with its own light quality, or function as a whole volume. The facade is equally regulable, comprising rotating three sided verticle louvers., that augment the quality of light desired on the interior, either blocking all natural light, providing full specturm artificial light, or opening up to the exterior. These rotating banks of full spectrum florescents can have the effect of the effect of providing maximum daylight 24 hours a day, as light therapy for shift change and seasonal affective disorder, regardless of time of day. They also provide a constantly changing surface as the visual identity of the barge.
Elements of Craig Cook's Masters thesis Spring 2010, Princeton University School of Architecture. The project remains a work in progress, informed by ongoing encounters with the medical industrial complex.
Advisors: Jane Harrison, Liz Diller
Much thanks to final review assistants:
Ang Li, Phoebe Springstubb, Jaffer Kolb, Chris Hillyard, Chris Oliver, Sonya Chao
GALLAUDET UNIVERSITY STM
2014 - 2015 _ 66,000ft2/6,600m2 _ Washington DC_executed while at Studio Twentyseven Architecture
The Hall Memorial Building is a Frankenstein of mis- matched parts wrapped in a skin of Post-Modern appliqué. Fused together over fifty years of evolution the building houses multiple academic departments, including Gallaudet University’s STM programs in science, technology and mathematics. This project is an overhaul of the top two floors of the 150,000 ft2 building. Taking advantage of the need for long over- due updates to laborotories, the client wished to create new, open, shared spaces that will allow previously siloed departments to interact and collaborate.
The building is centered on an atrium space that is accessible only from the ground floor and serves almost no orienting function to the floors above. Our intervention opened up the atrium to the third and fourth floors with new penetrations that help orient the user within the building and create opportunities for visual connection and communication. Here's the completed project over at our Alma Mater, Studio 27.
Craig Cook was design architect Gallaudet University STM while at Studio Twenty Seven Architecture.