Friday, May 8, 2009

Romses Architects: Harvest Green Porject, Vancouver

Interesting project:
the concept of 'harvest' is explored in the project through the vertical
farming of vegetables, herbs, fruits, fish, egg laying chickens, and a
boutique goat and sheep dairy facility. in addition, renewable energy
will be harvested via green building design elements harnessing geothermal,
wind and solar power.

Click on the title above to view project.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Plummet

From the criticism on Thursday I have distilled a few main avenues for consideration as I ride the plummet to the final critique. Brian Goldberg offered two observations that I appreciate: 1st, and I had already been moving in this direction, was to consider an industrial efficiency, not so much in the manner of the plant growth but in the labor of the people engaged in it. 2nd, and this was more of a surprise and a delight, was the encouragement towards artifice or ‘surreality’. This offers a heightened experience, especially for that most important audience, children.
Maria Guest gave me good advice on reorganizing towards more effective circulation by moving my emphasis from the eroded corners towards the central atrium/orangerie, and by adding an east-west scheme to my dominant north-south scheme. I also appreciate Pari Riahi’s comparison of the floors of my building to filters such as that found in the Bialletti coffee makers.
My first priority is to address my roof scheme. I’d like a blend of skylight, greenhouse and photovoltaic planes, and some curves to emphasize the emergence of this style of agriculture from a building originally purposed in a very different way. At the same time I need to create sections that clearly illustrate my vertical emphasis for growing surfaces, screens and trellises as well as the aforementioned circulation.

[images to come]

Monday, April 27, 2009

The midterm review on Thursday was a very constructive one to help me make the next approaches, accompanying many different views and helpful comments and criticism from the guest critics.
The primary idea in my design process of reconfiguring the 19th century mill building into a vertical farm is to derive the programmatic organization, inner spatial forms, and circulatory routes from the extended axes of the existing building, reflecting the current urban context.
The biggest challenge I am dealing with is to adjust my diagrammatic conceptual studies to fit into the reality; existing structural grid of the building. To achieve this, I was advised that the best way may be through exploring the spatial aspects in sections paying attention to the verticality in spaces. I hope to figure out the making of spaces through such approach, and also simultaneously develop the facades of the building by continuously exploring the surroundings. I want the facades to be designed with the consideration of it revealing the inside spatial qualities, with intentions to make it into a welcoming element of the new vertical farm.
I will continue to explore the idea of ‘expanding outward’ in a more strategic manner keeping in mind the flow of the site in the further developments.

In the two weeks following the mid-review, I plan on revising and refining the current proposal. I feel as though the project became quite muddled-up, rather quickly, towards the mid-review and as such I am hoping that the next steps I take will help towards clarifying the architectural manifestations of my initial concept. That isn’t to say that the project will be reinvented; as Anastasia pointed out at the end of my critique, the final leg of this project should be used as an (re)investment.

Based on some of the criticisms I received, I would like to reconsider my building’s relationship to its surrounding context—are there ways for the building to relate back to its surrounding that goes beyond its visual cues? I do think some of the visual cues proposed are quite important as a way to bring people from the outside in, but perhaps there are other ways that perform on a level beyond the superficial—i.e. how the spaces within embody the same qualities that the visual cues try to accomplish.

Internally, the subtractive method previously implemented will be refined and will hopefully become reciprocal with both program and human inhabitation. I am trying to discover how this can be accomplished at moments where the two grids intersect/interact with each other; or if moments where one program transitions into another will begin to generate these intersections.

Because much of the concept was generated from the outside in (sunlight from the outside piercing internal structure), I think that all 5 facades should be able to relate to the incisions made on the interior—the facades need not directly reveal components beyond them, but that incisions or openings made on the facades are able to be traced back (perhaps through projections) to incisions made on the inside.

Light Apertures

The architectural intention of my design begins to create connections between the proposed program and the existing context of the city.

My previous investigations of the way in which the human eye works responded to my ambitions of light apertures created to subdivide spaces based on their light qualities.

The iconic wall becomes a gesture that serves the purpose of a retina and allows light to be reflected and redistributed into the production space. During the summer it will become a grow wall while in the winter the dead branches will allow light to penetrate and bring more light into some of the darker spaces.

My next step is to try to resolve the skin of my building and see how it can respond to my ambitions while providing me with elements of protection and maintaining thermal qualities

Thoughts, midterm review 4.23.09

I want to further explore the idea of correspondence – to push the current architecture proposal so that the language of subtraction is not only that of terracing of each floor according to the sun as it travels throughout the day and year. I want to consider the exterior facades and the roof (the skin of the building) and how that language of the segmented arched windows and the brick pilasters relates to the light entering the space of the building on both a horizontal and vertical plane. I want to define a language of subtraction AND addition to create an architecture suited for growing – that there is a strong correspondence between all floors of the building, northern and southern facades, and ground to roof floor levels such that the architecture manifests/reflects the particular mannerisms of sunlight.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Tiffany Mid-review

I have approached this project with the concept of a heat exchanger, applying that idea to adjacencies of different programmatic elements. By increasing the surface area of these adjacencies, there is more opportunity for the systems within this building to feed off of each other. I have also been considering this increased surface area idea in regards to bounced light entering the building as well as protruding volumes. Many of the critics encouraged me to try to go back to the richness and dynamism of the earlier concept models and diagrams to deal with the program more appropriately. They advised me to address differences in the building/program and get away form the rigidity of the system I had designed. I liked Aaron's analogy that the column grid is like the armature of the building and everything else is like this soft material that can be washed away, so that what you are left with is dynamic volume with a variety of different spaces and ins and outs. So, maybe my intervention doesn't just lie within the existing structural grid, but maybe the new skin is weaved in and out through the column grid (like Olga said), creating a secondary limit to the building. What I plan to do next is shortly return to diagramming to break-up the rigidity of my current proposal. And, I plan to address more specific needs of the programmatic element, while keeping the spacial qualities, looseness, and sectional richness of my earlier models in mind.

The Growing.

My next step in this process is beginning to look at how I can interact the skin of the building with the outside environment, IE: the surrounding public/urban forces; and how it will be a reflection of my interior program. The skin should not act purley as facade, but as a reading of the body within.

Midterm Crit

One of the things that I have to focus greatly on now is program and the different lighting conditions that are necessary for each program. From this I can begin to create more meaningful relationships between programs based on these light conditions and the transitioning from one condition to the next. Since my project is very much about the spaces between two membranes, the physical and experiential transitions between the programs and areas of the building are very important. What these membranes become, whether they are permeable and impermeable boundaries, openings or enclosures based on the programmatic needs and the relationship between adjacent programs becomes a major part in structuring the decisions that I will now make. These different areas of transition and communication through membranes can begin to become unique to specific moments and thus create a fragmentation of the building into individual parts. A lot of the divisions among the building I was making were in plan, but the sectional relationships that occur and how the light filters down through the building is very important for me to investigate. All of the moves that I make from one program to the next directly relate to and will inform my buildings circulation.

Mid-Review Thoughts

What I brought away from the crit is that the current scheme is too rigid. To me, what's missing is any sense of whimsy or mystery. In order to bring back some of the playfulness that my initial sketch model had, I think I need to break free of some of the rigid rules I've set up for myself and shake up (in a controlled way) the plans.

Another topic I'm considering more now is thinking of the program in in more real terms and trying to design with a restraint that will lead to a feasible proposal. How can I create a building that not only "works" as a good vertical farm but also be interesting and thought provoking. The hard part, of course, is designing pragmatically without becoming mundane.

More specifically I'm going to try and create more than one growing climate in the building, with the smaller vertical growing pores having its own microclimate. I'm also going to let the skin of the building not only respond to the program on the inside of the building but also to its external surroundings in a more economical way. Right now, the ground floor is completely stripped of bricks and filled in with glass and new columns in an attempt to bring in the community that walks by. I think there is a more subtle (and economical) way of expressing this that doesn't include shedding the entire floor of its current skin. It only needs a trim, not a full shave.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Midterm Review 4.23.09

Images from our midterm review of students: Joe, Nicole EJ, Nick and Ming-Yi. Apologies for not representing all the students, and thanks to Tiff for taking the photos.

Crit Thursday April 23

Next step:

Façade -I will be looking at the trajectories of the surrounding to find areas where my skin has to change and create a closer relationship to the surrounding.

Monday, April 20, 2009

And now with roof & skylights!

The Rhino file has been uploaded to our pbwiki. Same folder, different file.


Saturday, April 18, 2009

91 Hartford St., Now in 3D!

Rhino model is finally completed and uploaded to the wiki under a folder called "Rhino Model".

Updates since the last version:
-Wall thicknesses (different on each floor)
-More accurate elevations (i.e. blocked off windows, etc.)
-Better alignment of parts (actually, everything lines up now)
-All surfaces covered to prevent light leaks, in case anyone's rendering.

About the model itself:
-Locations of things are fairly accurate (within 1" I hope), but little details like window frames, sloped window sills, etc. weren't modelled
-All wall surfaces aren't joined together--they meet, but just not joined to form one continuous surface. I thought it may be easier to modify things since we're going to remove parts anyways. Otherwise you can select everything and type in "join".
-Walls are separated by floors and are put into different layers accordingly (A-WALL-1st FLOOR, A-WALL-2nd FLOOR, etc.). This means that if you're outputting the model as line drawings, you'll have to clean up these seams (between each floor) in AutoCAD or Illustrator--otherwise the building will look like 4 stacked boxes on the exterior.
-Floors are done the same way
-Cores are placed in their own layer, except that they're not detailed--i.e. no stairs, no elevator car, just the voids and walls that surround them
-The roof I actually modeled on Nick's laptop and forgot to transfer it to mine, so it'll come after we get back from Nantucket

If you've been using the older model, I think it's worth it to just copy and paste what you've done into this model--it's much better and less fussy.

I've included some renderings below.

Good luck,

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Inaka-de-hatarakitai: We want to work in the countryside!

Not about an urban farm, nor a vertical farm but an interesting NY Times article about introducing agriculture as a way to combat unemployment and the declining state of Japanese farms. There is also a slideshow.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Site Photos

I've uploaded some photos of the site + park from our second visit. They're on our PBWiki under the folder "SITE PHOTOS 2." I know this is a little overdue... OK, a lot overdue.


P.S. My pictures are more detail-oriented--I don't have pictures that encompass a more general area, so if anyone has those, please feel free to upload them. Thanks.

assignment 4: vertical farm

vertical farm

For the next six weeks, you will be adapting the existing structure at 91 Hartford Ave to house an Urban Agriculture Center with a Vertical Farm. You are to incorporate the following program elements into the existing building, and you are allowed to extend the program beyond the structure of the building by a factor of 25%. This can be done horizontally (in plan) or vertically (in section) or both.

The program for the new building is broken into two categories. The first is the Urban Agriculture Center, where food and soil are grown, and community/education outreach takes place. The square footage of this category is open, and the area allotted to each component is given in percentages. The second category is supplemental, serving as financial support for the UAC. These programs are given specific (minimum) square footages. The breakdown is as follows:

urban agricultural center:

food production & acquaponics (65% of area)

compost & vermiculture (10% of area)

classrooms, offices & incubator kitchens (25% of area)

supplemental program:
market - 10,000 s.f.

café – 4,000 s.f.

optional site enhancements:

exterior (windrow) composting area

livestock/chicken area

bee hives

exterior (seasonal) growing beds

other considerations:

loading areas

site circulation

vertical circulation

site/neighborhood context

The following programs are required to have zenithal light (i.e. daylight from above): classrooms, offices & incubator kitchens, the market, and the café. Obviously the food production area will need light from above as much as is possible, but it is understood that artificial light is essential to the control of the growing environment.

assignment 3: subtraction


As established at the beginning of the semester, the mill building you have so thoroughly documented is eventually to be re-imagined as a vertical farm. Though we do not yet know exactly what that requires programmatically, we know that it will demand a large amount of light indoors. The existing building has a particular relationship to light, a particular materiality and a particular structural system.

You each have spent the last few weeks thinking carefully about light and making devices that measure, register, regulate and manipulate light. Using the thinking that the full-scale process has initiated, you are to spend the next week exploring subtractive operations on the site. Though your work may involve many ways of manipulating the materiality of the existing building, subtraction (also understood as the addition of light) is to be primary. Everything else is open: the degree of abstraction, the scale, the method, the sensibility.

Using a material of your choice, build a ‘thumbnail’ sketch, in model form, of this operation. Begin with the building itself, at one of the following scales: 1/2” 1/8” 1/16” or 1/32” = 1’. The thumbnail itself should be no larger than 10” in any direction.

You may wish to build several models in sequence to flush out your ideas. This is welcome, but some degree of resolution should be present in the final thumbnail that is presented. If you have built a sequence of models, present the trajectory.
If the process of drawing is important to facilitate your inquiry, please pursue that, and present those drawings to accompany your thumbnail.


Stoner, Jill. Rain in the City. from Visualizing the City, ed. Alan Marcus and Deitrich Neumann, Routledge 2007.

assignment 2: measurement & documentation

The students spent Saturday March 14th, and part of Thursday March 26th documenting and measuring the site of their next project. The following was their assignment.

measurement & documentation

We will spend Saturday, March 14 at the building at 91 Hartford Street in Providence. The building is a former mill structure, situated on the Woonasquatucket River at the southern edge of Olneyville. You are to work as a team of 12 to document the building completely in a set of drawings. The drawings are to be completed in Autocad, fully coordinated and cross-referenced with each other.

All drawings are to be at a scale of 1/8” = 1’, except for the site plan which is to be at 1/32” = 1’. The following is the list of drawings to be completed:

cover sheet / index of drawings
a1-0 site plan
a2-1 ground floor plan
a2-2 second floor plan
a2-3 third floor plan
a2-4 fourth floor plan
a2-5 roof plan
a3-1 cross section
a3-2 cross section
a3-3 long section
a3-4 long section

a4-1 south elevation
a4-2 north elevation
a4-3 east elevation
a4-4 west elevation
a5-1 ground floor reflected ceiling plan
a5-2 second floor reflected ceiling plan
a5-3 third floor reflected ceiling plan
a5-4 fourth floor reflected ceiling plan
a6-1 ground floor interior elevations
a6-2 second floor interior elevations
a6-3 third floor interior elevations
a6-4 fourth floor interior elevations
a7-1 – a7-12 detail

Each person will be in charge of one category of the drawings, depending on the level of complexity. The group will need to work closely together to coordinate the set, and make sure the correspondence between drawings is correct.

You are also to individually locate and document one detail in the building. Select the detail for its particularity and idiosyncrasy. The detail drawing can be at any scale deemed appropriate. It should communicate an intrinsic aspect of the building to the rest of the class. Presume your drawing to be a highlighting of some aspect of the materiality of the building, and a document of the detail’s relationship to natural light. If necessary, take creative license with this drawing in the pursuit of the detail’s particularities. How do you communicate the idiosyncrasy of this detail?


Frascari, Marco. The Tell-the-Tale Detail from VIA 11. University of Pennsylvania. 1991.