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Dwelling in the city of towers

Part 1 Project 2009
Robert Chandler
Kingston University Kingston-Upon-Thames UK
Set amongst Croydon’s cluster of commercial towers, the project concentrates on improving the quality of a precious city space that past development has left unresolved, allowing a gradual development of context to emerge from inside the urban block in which it is situated. The base of the tower spreads out to confirm this space and define its edges creating a piece of city.

The conception of the tower investigates a service core and structure system that aims to support student housing and communal dwelling. Compact wooden boxes sit on the edges of the plan facing inwards.
Structures within the building are expressed explicitly from the envelope, enclosed space and furniture; and hence achieve a clarity, spatially, and in their method of construction. The constant presence of steel structure within the elderly day centre counters the impact of the solid termination of the concrete cores at the ground.

The facade concentrates on its role in defining the tower. Small cement panels reinforce the base ascending in size, larger panels release the tower at the top. A compositional order is set up on which to base an active fenestration pattern that opens up the building to its neighbours and to the public space below.

Robert Chandler

With the use of large orthographic drawings and physical models, the student creates relationships between Croydon and San Gimignano. The intention of this comparative urban study is to engage in observations about city, understanding of public space and urban composition of two places that have very distinct cultural, historic and spatial qualities, allowing him to understand how buildings containing towers are capable of making a cohesive and dense city fabric.
The building proposal is resolved with a strong and simple urban move, that allows for the definition of various open spaces that bring clarity to an ambiguous and unresolved part of Croydon city centre. The aim of the project is not to design objects that sit in space, but an architecture capable of defining space, through the careful understanding of the context where is sited.
The project aims for a clear understanding of the relation between construction method, structure, spatial hierarchy and occupation. Pushing the structural and service cores to the corners of the tower creates large open floor dwellings for young people. This solution develops a tectonic idea of solidity of the vertical elements against the lightness of the metallic frames spanning over the programmes inhabiting the lower floors.
The project manages to explore how materials, methods of construction, technology, structure and building processes determine and have a close relationship with a spatial and architectonic idea. This results in a clear thesis or structure of intention to the entire work of the year, capable of informing a detailed proposal that is coherent and appropriate.


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