Prada Transformer: Exposing the Concept

Motion. Change. Transformity. Multifunction. Transition. Technology. All of these words describe the works created by Rem Koolhaas’ OMA office for the Prada foundation. Since the collaboration began between the two design houses nearly a decade ago, the OMA has been responsible for several merchandise epicenters, seasonal set design for Prada’s Milan showroom, an advertising campaign for Prada Sport, as well as several other projects. One in particular which caught my attention is the rotating pavilion created for Prada in Seoul, South Korea, called the Prada Transformer. The design implements multifunction to the extreme: a four-sided tetrahedron with a different shape on each face, the pavilion may be rotated according to the function it needs to serve for any event. One face is a circle, another a rectangle, another a hexagon, and finally a cross.
Although the design seems functional to the utmost degree, I created a cutting to illustrate a key, yet easily overlooked, factor in the implementation of this rotating pavilion. In order to rotate the 21 meter high structure, 4 large cranes must attach to the steel skeleton, raise it off the ground, and rotate it in midair to correspond to its new function. Without these 4 cranes, the rotation of the structure is impossible. But how successful is an architecture which depends on external elements to be successful? If Transformer’s cranes allow it to transform, the principle design concept, should OMA have made them an integrated, designed aspect of their final product? What may have been more interesting is if OMA had designed the cranes themselves as permanent structures to display the tools which allow the pavilion to transform itself, rather than hiding them from view.

Urbanism Ideals: The Automobile

The new global urbanism as defined by Kevin Lynch and Le Corbusier centered around one pivotal element: the automobile. Although the opinions offered by Lynch and Le Corb were approximately 30 years apart, they are strikingly similar. Le Corbusier was far ahead of his time in his understanding that the automobile would revolutionize transportation and the way humans move, particularly around cities. Lynch had already started to see how cars and traffic were affecting the growth and development of urban areas and how they were connected. Cars were and are mainly criticized for their noise, pollution, and traffic jams, but people use them despite their drawbacks because of their enormous convenience. Lynch and Le Corb both recognized the impact of the automobile and rather than focusing on its negative aspects, they tried to identity the huge potential for improving and integrating the automobile into society.
Le Corbusier imagined a completely redesigned notion of the city which would break completely with the non-automobile cities of the past. He saw rows of high-rise buildings arranged neatly within a function grid of streets and highways. Lynch envisioned an ideal city as one which was most pleasing when viewed in motion. I created a cutting trying to bring these two ideas together. Rows of boxes represent Le Corb’s vision of rows of skyscrapers, and the car-window shaped cut out represents Lynch’s “view from the road.”

Rolex Learning Center: Artificial Natural Landscape

One of my favorite buildings we studied in class this semester was the Rolex Learning Center in Lausanne, Switzerland, by the Japanese architectural group SANAA. The building program was very straightforward: École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) required a library which could provide space for studying in groups or individually, housing their large collection of scientific literature (over 500,000 volumes), as well as cafés, etc. Within these basic parameters, SANAA created a very unique design.  They made an interior landscape, free of solid barriers, and with varying grade-changes which correspond to different program activities.
In plan view, the building appears as a simple rectangular shape. However, it rises and falls in height like a natural landscape when viewed in elevation. A continuous interior surface allows users to create their own paths and nodes as they see fit, rather than the designer chopping up the building into several designated spaces for activity.
I was intrigued by the designers’ manipulation of one surface to have several different heights. I created several paper models to try to emulate this concept. First, I folded a sheet of paper over itself to create the image of a space rising up from the landscape. However, what SANAA does is closer to actually lifting a section of the landscape itself and gently bending it to create the desired slopes. With that in mind, I essentially cut 3 edges from the center of a sheet of paper, pulled up the freed material, folded it over itself, and finally manipulated it with a bend in the same way SANAA did. The technique reminds me of how hills themselves are created: by shifts and bends in the earth’s tectonic plates. The beauty of the paper cut out is that the footprint of the original form is still visible.

Maison Latapie: A House in Contrast

My study of Maison Latapie by Phillipe Vassal and Anne Lacation is essentially a study of contrasts. These contrasts include solid/void, light/dark, private/public, and open/closed. The residence is made up of two “houses,” the solid house which faces the street, and the transparent house which opens to the back garden. The designers have made a name for themselves with their cost-effective, innovative use of accessible resources as building materials. In the Maison Latapie, the solid house is constructed with opaque materials of wood and fiber cement cladding, while the transparent house is made of polycarbonate sheeting.
The transparent house has a similar design to that of a greenhouse. Its primary purpose is to provide sunlight to the family and ventilation in the warm months. On the solid house, several panels of fiber cement cladding are on hinges so they can be swung open to expose the home to the street. When they are closed, however, the house becomes a closed box. The solid house seems to act as armor for the family inside. The house may be closed off to protect the family from uncomfortable climates, or from the public street. While the solid house allows the family to be as confined as they wish, the transparent house allows them to extend themselves. During the warm months, they may use the greenhouse as a connection to the sky, sun, and garden.
I created a paper-cutting to emphasize the solid/transparent contrast between the two parts of the residence. The cutting consists of two boxes of the same dimensions, yet one box is solid paper while the majority of material on 5 faces of the other box has been removed. In this way, the focus is on the exterior of the solid box, and the focus is on the interior of the void box. In reality, the transparent house strives to bring the outside to the inside while the solid house is trying to keep a strong separation between outside and inside.

Continual Change: Prada Showroom

The Prada Headquarters showroom in Milan, designed by OMA, has been used as a shell for different installations over the years.  The structure itself is quite incredible, consisting of a series of double arches spanning the width of the showroom.  It is a structure that can change with the changing of fashion every season and can contain different installations as need be.  For example, when we went to visit the showroom during design week in Milan, the space was used for the exhibition of the work of Rem Koolhaas. The cuttings I have produces show how the space can be interchangable and able to morph into what the designer wants.  In the first images shown, I have created the structure that acts as the shell for future exhibitions.  It is a very simple structure that can easily be transformed into anything. In the second images, I recreated an exhibition for a runway show in 2011 with an artificial turn and blue cubes for the visitors to sit on. In the third set of images, I created another exhibition space with a series of stairs that made up the catwalk for the runway show.  
The overall concept of the space is perfect for its function. Design and fashion go hand in hand: the design of the space changes in the same way that the design of fashion changes.  I also like how the space enhances whatever design goes into it and does not overshadow what is the focal point at that moment. 

Industrial Simplicity: Public Housing by Jean Nouvel

French architect Jean Nouvel designed the Nemausus housing project in Nimes during the 1980s. The two buildings, Nemausus I and II, are inspired by many of Le Corbusier’s premises of architecture, like the pilotis spanning the ground floor of the entire structure and the floor plans as well.  Nouvel designed the two buildings in such a simple way and with simple floor plans, overall and with each unit.  I have sketched out the floor plan of one of the units within the housing project to demonstrate its simplicity.    Not only were these plans designed in a very minimal approach, but his use of materials throughout the buildings was reflective of this as well.  He used materials like concrete and steel to construct the majority of his designs, giving the buildings an industrial feel. There is absolutely no decoration to his design and he actually left some of the markings that were made during construction on the walls to make the final product seem unfinished.  
I created a cut out of the interior space of one of the units in the Nemausus housing project to illustrate the minimalist structure within the space. I think that this design is very successful because it allows the inhabitant to be expressive as they wish.  It is a beautiful design on its own- it does not overshadow the individual furnishings, but complements them instead. 

Connections: Hadid Terminal

The Hoenheim-Nord Terminal, designed by Zaha Hadid, was completed in 2001 in France. The terminal was needed for a new tram service that would cut down on pollution and traffic in the city.  The structure echoes the energy of the program of a hub of public transportation. One particular aspect that I thought was very interesting is the connection of the structure with the ground.  The terminal has been constructed in white, creating a nice contrast with its surroundings, and physically touches the ground on one side of the tracks.  On the other side, there is no physical connection with the earth, but rather a massive area filled in with white paint to represent and continue the structure in a way to the other side. I have done some sketches to represent these connections and the cut-out I produced clearly shows this as well.  
I think that the concept of the terminal is quite interesting with the structure sweeping above the tracks and then back down to the ground, but I think that the quantity of paint used in the parking area is a bit unnecessary and does not seem very practical.  Overall, the structure seems fitting for its program because of its movement across the tracks, but in my opinion there could be a better use of the parking space on the other side of the tracks.  


The view from the road -Amesterdam

Amesterdam,the biggest city in the north and also the captial city of of Dutch, serves as the northern door of Europe and international tourise center.The name of the city can be traced back to 12 century when residents here established Dam on the Amstel River ,they named here Amesteldam.With the time goes by,"Amesterdam" accepted because its convicence .

The city is known as a secual city,the symbol of open and free; "the north Vience ", means a city full of inspiration.It is also famous as a bicycle kindom,where the number of citizens travle by bike far more exceed the residents go by vehicle.The safty issue that government pays to the citzens and the convenienve they provides for public all impressive me from a city planning points of view.

As a result,as a architecture graduate student , I take advantage of the chance of traveling in Amesterdam to cyclying in Amesterdam inspired by the study " The View From the Road".a book published in 1964 for the center of Urban Studies of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard Universityby Donald Appleyard, supported Kevin Lynch and John R. Myer.The book is written for enginners who decide the furture highways;arguing that they should consideration the vision and perception of the landscapes from the road to image the furture highways. The visual sequences of Routes are describes by defferent succession if sketches or photographs to stimulate the motion of view points of the driver.The car and the street can be considered as windows on the sociey and as a starting point to understand the city.

Water flows in this city,like the blood of human body,connect the city ,people and spirit.
The connection elements can de divided as physical parts which included river bridges,public spaces,ferry ,phychological elements such as visual connections.Those elements can be identified in every part of the city during the cycling trip in Amesterdam.For example ,the design of most residential buildings near the river all condiser the necessity of ensuring enough visual connection for the buildings behind ,which accord with the sustainable theme of the city planning. Morover,the laested amesterdam Film Museum "EyE" designed by Viennese architectural firm Delugan Meissl Ass.The museum located between historic centre and modern development area,facing the south amesterdam river.The design provides a big staircase landscape inside the building offering the direct visual connection with the historical city across the river as a way to extend the space and the movement of the amesterdam spirit.

Vitra Fire Station

In 1993, the Vitra Campus Fire Station by Zaha Hadid was finally completed. After a fire in 1981 on the campus, Vitra wanted to avoid any future fires from occurring on the campus. Hadid wanted to find the relationship between space and form, and thus did many studies and paintings of the fire house throughout the design project.
She wanted to use the building to join the agricultural landscape and surroundings to the artificiality of the Vitra Campus.

In my cuttings, I wanted to show how the building protruded from the landscape as if it was a continuous part of it. I think using a cutter in a 2D manner really helps in communicating this concept. I analyzed the lines of the building and figured out how to flatten them. The hardest part was figuring out how to get the streamline and dynamism of the building into a paper model.


AT&T Building by Philip Johnson

The AT & T building designed by Philip Johnson in 1984 is located in New York City. At 197 meters tall, the building is 37 stories high and it now serves as the headquarters for Sony Corporation of America. This postmodern building has a sends a strong message as a corporate building and serves as a landmark. One of the most recognizable elements of the building is the ornamental top. It is also controversial because it resembles the style of the open pediments used in Thomas Chippendale’s furniture. Johnson used these post-modern “Chippendale” forms to give the building a more monumental look. 

The building is a vertical massing that uses a tube frame in its framework with tied trusses at the top and bottom of the tubular columns. The material used on the outside of the building is a grayish-pink granite. Besides its ornamental top another main feature of the building is its entrance. The arched entranceway is about seven stories in height. This remarkable entrance combined with ornamental features challenged the functionalism and purely efficient design of the modernist style architecture. 

In my model I wanted to recreate the massing of the building and the ornamental top because it is such a recognizable feature of the building. 


Prada Tokyo, an ever-changing facade

Herzog and deMuron, Tokyo
Herzog and deMuron's design for the Prada store in Tokyo is fascinating because the facade appears to always change.  The outer structure of the building is made up of a geometric design consisting of concave, convex, and flat diamond shapes.  All glass, the building is complete transparent and markets the Prada merchandise easily.

As mentioned in my title "ever-changing facade" the building looks different during the nighttime and day.  During the day part of the class is highly transparent while other parts are reflective.  People outside can see themselves or the reflection of the city.  At night, the window panes can also function as a screen.  Lights and video can be projected to the surfaces to create shows or as advertisement.

What fascinated me most about the diamond facade is the use of the shapes as more than windows.  The shape supports the roofs of the structure.  In addition the space created by these windows have been used as changing rooms, cash registers, and even full-length mirrors.  I appreciate how the architects were able to carry the facade inside the space rather than making it a simple texture.

The shape of the door is an enlargement of the same geometry.  A combination of 4 diamonds, it is a captivating way to enter the store while still having the same language as the rest of the structure.  If the building had a rectangular door the strength of the texture would have been weakened.

flattened texture of building

voids left behind that would be the window panes

structure that is filled with mirrors, glass, and other elements

texture when curved around a surface

windows are both raised and lowered while some remain completely flat

Isolation and Curiosity- The Prada Installation

The Prada building of Marfa, Texas is a form of fictional architecture; a no man's land. Designed by Michael Elmgreen, it sits in the middle of nowhere off of a lonely highway. The work was built in 2005 and labeled "pop architectural land art project." The building is considered  a permanent installation that will never go under repairs. Therefore, ideally the project will eventually degrade back to the ground it came from. However, three days after the project was finalized, the exterior was vandalized and the inside rampaged and looted. So, the building went under repairs after only a few days.
The building is designed after a real Prada store, equipped with minimalistic window displays and the actual Prada logo. The facade is made up of a nonfunctional door and hand-picked display of the Fall 2005 collectionby Miuccia Prada herself. The sculpture is a perplexing display due to its (non)functioning purpose and obscure location. However, due to these peculiar aspects, it is no doubt a landmark and a project to be recognized.

This cutting embodies the solidarity of the sculpture in its context. No one could miss the building as they cruise down Route 90, because there are no distractions around it. I also wanted to explore how the building would degrade over the years in the same cutting. So while taking it apart, I documented the process of pulling the model back into the site and the breaking of connections.


Lacaton & Vassal: The Greenhouse Dwelling

The incredible thing about Lacaton & Vassal is the ingenuity with which they approach their projects. They reuse, refurbish and find inexpensive materials that are suited for their specific design. Started in Paris in 1987, Anna Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal have designed educational, commercial, cultural, and residential buildings. In this post, however, I will be focusing on their ability to create incredible, inexpensive buildings that not only work, but are also taking a step forward in mass housing.

The Social Housing project in Mulhouse, France ingeniously utilizes industrial products and materials to maximize the space that can be built. A greenhouse-like construction allows light to enter the upper story with two-thirds of the space using thermal heating. The raw material usage maximizes the space for the residents while letting them retain their privacy.

In my cut out, I looked at the ventilation and raw material usage. The heavier concrete lower level is superimposed by the light greenhouse structure above. It is a very successful housing project compared to the rest of the architects that were part of this social housing project. With simple materials you can still build a simple, "home, sweet, home."