Each student in ARC201 was required to pick a descriptive word, then use that word in a series of three design exercises, culminating in a design for a student centre for a site on the University of Toronto campus. Jamie's word was "ethereal."
For the semester's first assignment, which required students to work using only vertical surfaces and openings, Jamie chose to design a structure using sheets of mesh. By cutting arched portals in the mesh and arranging the sheets vertically, he was able to create a structure with a hazy, almost translucent appearance:
The second project called upon students to design using horizontal surfaces. Again, Jamie decided to tackle the problem with layering. This time, to express the ethereality of his structure, he built his model out of sheets of transparent acrylic:
"I got into the idea of cantilevering elements," Jamie says. "The whole design is a helix procession upwards."
His final project, the student centre design, borrows elements from both previous projects. This time, rather than use layered sheets, Jamie chose to base his design on a matrix of columns, which appear to dangle from the roof of the structure like icicles. Internally, the columns serve as a support system for a series of rectangular platforms, connected by a helix-shaped stairway.
"I started with a dense box of columns," Jamie says. "Then, through process of subtraction, I started to carve out the outer envelope and the central atrium to introduce light." He used the same subtractive process to create voids that could act as study spaces. Because the columns serve as structural support, he needed to make his cuts with surgical precision.
The column structure has another advantage from the point of view of the studio's design brief: a passerby would be able to peer into the gaps between the columns — and between those gaps would be, naturally, more columns. The resulting vertical overlay pattern, Jamie hoped, would create a moiré effect, making the building appear to move and shimmer in a way that could only be called ethereal.
Instructor: Fiona Lim Tung