Centrifugal Courtyard

As the people of Seoul grow collectively older, the values and bonds of the city and its residents will be tested by a generational divide.  Aspiring towards intergenerational integration, our project is based on a desire to not only bring people together in an environment of mutual comfort, but to promote a beneficial collaboration of young and old through culture, history, and art, not only available in a library, but also in the collective experience of the occupants.

Our project is not only a combination of programs, with the library and residential, but a point of transfusing generations. Young, old, learning, and living all blend together in the central courtyards of the building creating a unique community within the project.

Setting atop the library twenty five meters above the ground, the upper courtyard is the unifying element between the two major programs. Generated by the building’s overall concern for light and desirable residential programing, the upper courtyard has provisions for both semi private and private spaces. This courtyard is designed with a consideration not only for its own program, but also the programs around, above and below it.

Underneath the courtyard garden a large children’s area reacts to the playful geometries derived from the structural requirements of the trees above. This connects the spaces not only through thickness, but thinness as well, utilizing the varied depth of the roof to create skylights as well as solid geometries. Overlooking the lower courtyard, the residential portion of the courtyard is two stories higher than the library portion, and is only accessible to residents, giving the same benefits of the outdoor green space found below with the additional aspect of greater privacy.

A library resides in the base of our building, comprising the first several stories on the interior and extending up into a portion of our courtyard.  Libraries are inherently multi-generational, and our particular take on the library allows it to take on an identity which will continue to apply itself into the future as information is increasingly digitized.  Information – analogue, digital and interpersonal – share a home in the library.

With modern amenities and several atypical features, such as a theater and an advanced technology center, the building focuses on the dissemination of information through all modes of communication; it’s spaciousness gives it the potential to expand its resources to accommodate society’s increasingly heavy emphasis on the virtual, especially as the library’s role is redefined.

Social interactions within the library vary with the tightness or openness of its spaces: more compressed spaces become the locations of the stacks and quiet, individual tasks, such as private study; open spaces, with their multi-level views and expansive, connected feel, foster collaborative activities such as group studying, socializing, and the children’s center.  True learning derives from shared experiences and interpersonal interaction; our library serves to foster the relationships and spaces that make this possible.

The locus of this library space is the deep interior courtyard at its center, a void which pierces from the main courtyard down onto the ground level.  This is the primary spectacle of the library experience, which acts as a wayfinding device as well as a means of breaking up and organizing the incredibly vast floor area.  Library patrons can enjoy a bright and lively reading area within the courtyard on a pleasant day, and can benefit from its light and spatial influences throughout the year.  Its massive scale marks it as a sculptural beacon that shapes the surrounding spaces, become a central vertex around which contemplation, circulation, and exchange take place.

Occupying the uppermost levels of the building, residential units line the perimeter of the courtyard. Tenants are able to chose from a wide range of unit types that fit their personal needs and desires. One, Two, and Five bedroom units provide options for a large array of family types, from a single college student, to a three generation family of nine, and anywhere inbetween. With the increasing age of the population, and traditional Korean housing arrangements, we see the later options as a great opportunity to provide sensitive designs that foster intergenerational living.

In addition, each unit type has the potential for two alterations: the addition of a balcony, and the addition of a terrace.  Balconies occur along designated strips, extended floor plates that register in the appearance of the facade.  The terrace units occur along the sloping portions of the roofscape, and incorporate an exterior occupiable space as well as an non-occupiable greenscape beyond, to allow for privacy between units.  These additions provide ways to incorporate private exterior spaces as well as green spaces for the individual tenants, important to their quality of life even if sometimes hard to come by in dense, urban environments.

We’ve developed a facade system of modular panels: glazing and opaque.  The panels fit inside a double-mullion system, and the panels themselves are vacuum-insulated.  The interior mullions are fixed.  The panels, which are affixed to the exterior mullions, are individually connected into the framing system.  The vacuum insulation within each panel can be maintained and re-pressurized through access ports on the building’s interior.  This system provides both excellent insulation as well as thinness, allowing us to maximize the size of the interior courtyard.

Group Members: Donna Marion, Nathan Mattson, Landry Root

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