Symbiosis – Final Design

Symbiosis is a relationship between two dissimilar organisms, often, but not always of a mutual dependency. In my project, I looked at the symbiotic relationship between the given site, the neighbouring structures, and my proposed building.

Our clients for the design paper were taken from the film Frida, which tells the story of the famous Mexican Painter. My client was Lupe Marin, Diego’s ex-wife from the film, Frida. What I thought was one of the most interesting moments was just after Diego and Frida got married, and Lupe actually lives right above their dwelling. We see her as being a quite intrusive figure or at least not willing to let go.

The main notion and driving principle of my design was the idea of parasitism, a form of symbiotic relationships. The initial concept was born out of a simple idea of an inverted L like shape which planted itself in the ground and props itself up on the parapet of the neighbouring building, much like how Lupe was an overbearing figure in Diego and Frida’s marriage.

As the concept developed, I realised I was in a unique position where my building could sit entirely independent of the ground below, by relying on the neighbouring building for structural support. Now because of this, this dictated that my building was only parasitic to its neighbour and not to the ground below, which enabled the site to remain as a clean and empty green-space – something often over-looked in a dense urban context, and one of the benefits of my solution.

In section, my building is split into 3 clearly defined volumes. The ‘public’ space on the right, the circulation space in the middle, and the private space perched up on the parapet on the left. Each of these spaces is defined by a different sort of light condition.

Starting with the circulation space, the aesthetic is driven by making a surgical incision, through flesh. Cutting through flesh, one would expect to see all the muscle tendons and blood flow, but predominantly the bones. So cutting through the concrete skin or flesh of my building, the steel beam structure becomes exposed, so as one walks up the grand staircase to the front door, you really get a sense for the mass of the building as you see a cut right through the thickness of the wall, but are also greeted with an intricate structural skeletal sort of system.

Inside, the effect of the light pouring in is the main moment of delight in my form. In order to make this aesthetic as pure as possible, the stairs have also been considered to have open slits between the risers so as to not hide any of the light trying to enter, and to maximise the effect of this light condition.

Both the public and private spaces have been fitted with a light condition set up by perforating the surface. But they are done in slightly different ways. The public space has been splattered with random holes of varying sizes all over, so as to bring light in, in an interesting manner, and provide an occasional glimpse out through the larger perforations.

However in the private space, the perforations are a little more ordered. I took a point on the vertical wall planes which looked to a certain view, and then generated a whole lot of random points across the face of the surface. Then, based on the distance between each point and the one localised point, I scaled the size of each perforation so they became smaller the further away they were from that main point. What this does is frame specific views out from the building with clusters of larger openings, and then the much smaller openings are purely functional for bringing specks of light into the space.

In terms of the use of the spaces, there is a system of hierarchy created in the building. At the entrance level is a teaching space of sorts. Lupe, the character did sewing classes as well as being a fashion designer, so this is her teaching space. The next level up, which is a double height space, is the living and dining, where she can entertain a few guests and the like. And then her private space is up and offset from the rest of the building. In here is her bedroom as well as her studio, which is defined by a slight level change but not with any interior walls or anything so as to not dilute the light condition in there.

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