A design that offers everything within half-a-mile of residence is a good proposition as it “reduces wasteful commuting time”
A building invariably conforms to the specifications of the site topography and most specifically the functionality to be addressed. While these assigned principles need to be adhered almost to surgical precision, Aaron Schwarz, Principal and Executive Director of the international design firm Perkins Eastman, delves deeper, going beyond the first layer of skin to reach right to the bottom where detailing is taken to a new level.
Speaking at a presentation organised by INCITE Gallery, Schwarz dealt with in great detail the nuances that need to be addressed before a design is perfected. Stating that a design that offers everything within half-a-mile of residence, be it work, entertainment or commercial avenues, is a good proposition as it “reduces wasteful commuting time”, Schwarz spoke at length on the role played by the key elements — people, place and purpose — in determining the design of a building.
“How people will interact and use the spaces, what is the environment, what context the building needs to relate to, be it geography, climatic or even political environment, would be key factors to contend with while designing.
Add to this the purpose of the building, how the space will be used. These need to be understood in the context before designing”, say Schwarz.
Library in China
His project Chongqing, the national public library in China, was a building sponsored by the government to address the task of providing ‘open and free’ knowledge to the public. The building was designed in accordance, built as it was in the midst of a dense urban environment along with amazing natural surroundings.
The design was planned to suit the requirement of a multi-faceted community centre where the layout of the interiors and the structure offered free and open access to knowledge.
This is reflected in the segregated private spaces, programme spaces, and public spaces along with the presence of a courtyard replete with greenery that is sunken to make it visible from every corner of the building.
A bit of novelty is added to the glass façade of the library where the glass is fitted with three different levels of text with phrases from across the world to reduce glare.
Yet on another side, it is sheer glass affording an unhindered view of the greenery.
His project Indian School of Business-Mumbai contends with a nala on one side in the form of site specifications while the climate is one of humidity. He was also faced with the challenge of making the building Vaasthu-compliant while addressing the need to use an indigenous material palate in construction. This needed to be fitted into suiting a purpose of meeting a rigorous 50-week programme by leading industry and business heads in the country while accommodating the frequent footfall of a brilliant academic faculty and their exacting requirements.
The final design met all of these and more with its exquisite natural landscape and pedestrian environment complementing the academic and residential spaces, lending a community feel that facilitated unhindered interaction between students and faculty in the expansive courtyards.
IFRE Ashoka University
His project IFRE Ashoka University was no different in its manner of design address, incorporating adroitly the site topography with the multi-purpose academic requirements of the university.
Individual quadrants and academic blocks vie for their spaces amidst a lush green courtyard while extensive break-out spaces between blocks and giant Jaali work let in copious amounts of diffused natural light while keeping the heat out, thus addressing skillfully the climatic factors.