The need of society’s and contemporary culture to raise new relationships between architecture and the city is a consequence of the inability to rapidly understand the dynamics and the constant informative flows that are changing the static perception of architecture and the city. This allows the recognition of a context that challenges the physical reality of things, one in which the artificial, the digital and immaterial have a tendency to replace accepted concepts of reality. This leads to an unconscious acceptance that the spatial conditions have changed.
During the research that would lead into the architectural project, the notion of a "dematerialized architecture" came as a response to the analysis of these facts. Dematerialization is not an intrinsic value, much less a traditional method in which architecture is described. It is simply a permeable approach to vague, intangible and indefinite urban artifacts. It is a term that leads to the acceptance of architecture as a phenomenological event, as one that constantly requires the active participation of the subject for the transfiguration of the perceived limits. It becomes necessary to identify the character that has an architecture that seeks vanishing in favor of the forces reshaping the environment. In the particular case of the desired architectural response, the dissolution of conceptual and formal limits given to revised typologies and to the fundamental elements of the architectural language became a priority; the use of a “vanishing materiality" that could cause multiple readings to the user and a structure that could mutate when the program inside the building changes. A new space for the exchange of information for the City of Mérida rises to implement these strategies, a public library.
The project is located on lot framed by 3 huge vehicular transit avenues, the Avenida Campo Elias, Avenida Paseo Domingo Peña and Avenida Don Tulio. The immediate environment is presented as a node of high confluence of vehicle and pedestrian flows, an epicenter for the meeting of forces reshaping the urban area of the City of Merida. Currently the lot has both physical and perceptual urban barriers. The presence of an informal but highly used bus stop, Ejido / El Arenal stop, is a crucial aspect for the mobility of the sector and the state. It is also the transition point to a high influx of citizens. Yet it is an attractor for chaos and a traffic generator. In the site, three Trolmérida mass transit system stations are found on the three surrounding avenues. This speaks of the high density of pedestrian mobility the sector will have in the future. Within the physical aspects of the site, highlights the fact that it is buried and pedestrian access from adjacent streets and avenues is only possible from the Avenida Don Tulio and from Paseo Domingo Peña.
The Public Library translates and embodies, in addition to the physical aspects, the conceptual requirements arising from the theoretical approaches related to dematerialization. After a thorough study and a theoretical analysis the resulting building should provide solutions to 3 main themes: on the treatment of boundaries, the fluidity of the program and the building’s material structure. Three design strategies are proposed to achieve compliance with the aforementioned design criteria.
MERGING THE BUILDING WITH URBAN ELEMENTS
By studying the acting flows surrounding the project’s site, the strength these elements possess to model the possible tectonics is evident. As a starting point, the entire building is conceived as a terminal of the urban fabric. To translate these intentions tectonically, a departing typology with a central space is suitable to match the concept idea. This is when the stadium typology pops as the solution, with a central space accessible to all urban factors. The interest in the stadium typology resides in the potential of the spectator areas of being functionally dual. The stands as a compositional element of architecture can be both a passive element and an active element, depending on the program. But, for the purposes that are to be achieved, the typology of the stadium is broken and transformed to meet with the context acting urban forces. This action allows the building to be permeable to the cities dynamic conditions, being the invisible forces the sculptures of this deconstruction. The resulting movement of the building parts is projected, tracing the shape of the new building. Because of this, the resulting building is a visual reminder of the vectors shaping the urban environment.
RECONFIGURATION OF ARCHITECTURAL ELEMENTS (TYPICALLLY ASSOCIATED AS TRANSITION ELEMENTS) TO SUGGEST POSSIBLE NEW SETTINGS AND FUNCTIONS
The architectural program is also a sculptor of the building’s shape. By drawing the paths of the users, program bars were created, divided into programmatic axes of transition spaces and permanence spaces. Hence the idea of nderstanding the building program as a set of bars linked by a central space or plaza. But where the bars established a programmatic unambiguous boundary that is where a service bar was added over both, acting as a programmatic solvent. Examples of these space solvents are the galleries, the stands, the central plaza and multipurpose spaces performing as wildcard spaces that do not correspond to a specific prior given function.
This adds to the possibility of having a public library with an extended program. It has already been mentioned that the duality provided by the steps is essential to provide an attractive space for the library. Because they will not only be the link between the programmatic bars with the central plaza but potential outdoor reading rooms or permanence spaces of an integral public square. This strategy seeks to create alternative ownership to the user to perform conventional activities attributed to the library typology in unconventional spaces under non- standard conditions. This will transform a required space in a library setting to an alternative, a choice.
Another way to alter the implied function of an specific architectural element is by introducing an arrangement of columns in the central plaza. This gradient of columns tries to mimic a phenomenon of nature, while vaguely defining permance spaces between the voids perceived when walking through a forest. The addition of these columns to an apparent inert empty plaza will become a catalyst capable of creating spatial alternatives for urban explorers.
DEMATERIALISATION BY APPEARANCE (THROUGH THE USE OF MATERIALS AND A STRUCTURE THAT TENDS TO DISSAPEAR)
It is important to recognize that during the design process there was a conceptual desire to design a building that could extend to infinity. This is why the slabs had to be open free plans capable of holding the entire program. The structure is made of lightened slabs supported by a steel frames with columns and beams. To give the idea othat they are floating over the program these slabs are 15 cm thick. The facade is entirely glazed with white painted metal frames, also to accentuate the floating character. Because of high solar insolation in certain sections of the facade, curtain wall panels have an air chamber with double glass (also chosen for sound insulation). Many of them are screen-printed panels are also meant to alleviate solar insolation.
ARCHITECTURE DESIGN AND RESEARCH: Piergianna Mazzocca
PROJECT TYPE: Academic