the multi-purpose monolith
As the main base for this project was the concept of ‘no-zoning’ within the modern era and its realisation in cities such as Houston, we concentrated on the design for a building which included a variety of programs, operating them on different levels; separated from the rest but yet grouping them in a common plot.
The geometry of the final outcome is derived from Louis Kahn’s unbuilt Washington library project. Together with my group, we analysed the aesthetics and the formal characteristics of the assigned case study in order to keep a sort of relationship between the original building and our final proposed structure. Both suggest a very simple and clean exterior form — by using only straight angles and ‘blocky’ floors, not inserting additional ornamental details on the outside nor more organic shapes; we kept a similar language to the one Kahn uses in his project.
Moreover, as it had to adapt to the specific geographic context we were given, we preferred to keep a sort of heavy-looking structure with a semi-monolithic aesthetics, resembling the feeling one experiences when confronted with the many colossal modern skyscrapers in American cities like Houston.
The final proposal for this brief is a multi-programme structure which, rather than developing vertically like most of the buildings in the city of Houston, expands over all the plot area, leaving just a few metres along the external perimeter to allow pedestrians to walk; even though we wanted to concentrate on the ‘drive-thru’ experience which is in constant diffusion in the US right now and therefore intentionally gave the minimum space required for walking.