During the Junior Spring semester an integrated design studio is carried out and aimed toward incorporating various systems into a larger building tectonic. In the Spring of 2020, students designed a laufmachine, a self-propelled, two-wheeled vehicle; it is the 19th century predecessor to the bicycle. This portion of the semester prompted students to begin thinking about a multitude of systems within their designs through this construction process.
Section perspective of Intelligent Shed showing modularity in flex space through 15 two-person ICU rooms or vending units.
The program of building for the rest of the semester was complex: a bicycle institute, community center, and resilience hub for the Black Rock Community in Buffalo on a site adjacent to the Army Corps of Engineers Headquarters. Students worked to integrate the form, structure, mechanical servicing, and circulation into one cohesive design Concept. Through these systems students developed new ways of thinking about structure and space that would allow for a functional building with integrated systems.
The program of this building was targeted to be a space where the Black Rock community could congregate for a variety of reasons. Income would be generated within the community through the bicycle institute, as classes, workshops, and stores are housed within the institute. Alternatively, the students explored creating larger community spaces that could be converted to provide emergency services for the residents of Black Rock. Students considered different types of emergencies. Common issues that arose were fire, flooding, famine, disease, power outages and more to influence their programmatic arrangements and systems they designed.
The COVID-19 pandemic had a great effect on many of these projects in their response to emergency services. For many students, the pandemic lead to large amounts of research in how to combat an airborne virus through ventilation systems, as well as how to convert space to shelters and hospitals, if needed. This design studio was prompted to be conscious about the effects of the pandemic in real time as the contagion’s spread progressed.
Student Benjamin Wemesfelder took the approach of using existing systems to inspire his response to the Resilience Hub. His project, entitled “Intelligent
Shed,” combined the flexible form of the shed with advanced systems and modular performance to provide everlasting “programmable” systems. Wemesfelder investigated materials that would have the greatest impact on an ever-changing community, including a solar array on the roof of the building, an aerogel envelope system, a water collection system, thermal mass floors with radiant heating, and programmable digital façade panels for the Resilience Hub to communicate with the residents of Black Rock.
The pandemic influenced the design of the “Intelligent Shed” in the HVAC system integration and flex space design. These are occupiable zones where the HVAC systems would filter out air intake and distribution in the building. The building also incorporated a crane system, to allow reception and relocation of materials as needed. This was particularly effective in adjusting space influenced by the effect of an airborne virus like COVID-19, allowing both medical material intake as well as the introduction of modularity for program adaptation. This allowed the multipurpose basketball court to transition into housing, vending units, or if needed, multiple ICU convertible units.
With ideas of standardization in mind, system integration can result in a design for the future. By encouraging space to be adaptable to many situations and uses, the large community spaces are able to flexibly provide services and spaces that give back to the residents in the community.