by Design + Make postgraduate student Eleni McKirahan
14th May 2016 Hooke Park, Dorset   Design + Make postgraduate student Eleni McKirahan initiates a conversation with the AA about the development of the Wakeford Hall Competition as works on the winning designs get underway.   [caption id="attachment_5839" align="alignnone" width="360"]1-territories 'Territories', by Eleni McKirahan[/caption] Wakeford Hall will be the central building of the AA’s Hooke Park campus including a reception, offices, lecture hall, and library. [caption id="attachment_5857" align="alignnone" width="360"]General scheme in section, by Paolo Salvetti General scheme in section by Paolo Salvetti[/caption] The project began with an ideas competition that involved the AA community in the creation of this building. The winning ideas can be viewed in previous AA Conversations articles (see below). During the course of this year, Design + Make would like to engage the AA in an ongoing discussion about the development of Wakeford Hall through regular AA Conversations pieces, our project blog, and our presentations in Bedford Square. [caption id="attachment_5841" align="alignnone" width="360"]3-reforestation 'Reforestation' by Trianzani Sulshi[/caption] With the results of the competition as a point of reference, the first phase of the realisation of Wakeford Hall is underway. After initial reflections and first design responses, we engaged in conversations with the competition winners which allowed us to gain further insight on their ideas for making, methodology, phasing, and design. From this, we have formulated a set of intentions which was informed by our own analysis of the site and the building brief as well as our interpretation and development of the competition strategies. We found the two winning entries very compatible, sharing similar approaches toward the building’s relationship with the forest and the campus, while the two commended entries powerfully prompted the important considerations of temporality and sensitivity to the environment. This first AA Conversations piece discusses three primary themes that have evolved from our analysis of these elements over the first six weeks. [caption id="attachment_5845" align="alignnone" width="360"]7-JIG-on-RAM-copy Prototyping: timber tension test jig[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_5842" align="alignnone" width="360"]4-steambending_tension Prototyping: load-testing, steam bending (1)[/caption] The first is the idea of a central space, a sort of core that, in our design, plays a pivotal role in instigating the inhabitation of the developing building throughout the construction phases and in the longer term of the course of its lifetime. The core is seen as a dynamic space both in physical terms, with the help of moveable walls, and in terms of the gradual evolution of its function as the building progresses. [caption id="attachment_5843" align="alignnone" width="360"]5-steam_bending Prototyping: load-testing, steam bending (2)[/caption] Second, we have developed a concept of reforestation which expands on similar thoughts expressed in the winning competition proposals. Hooke Park’s campus was forested until a series of windstorms in the late 1980s flattened the area that is the current building site. Reforestation is the mechanism by which the logic and atmosphere of the surrounding forest migrates into the new space. The gridded planting of trees and the densities and clearings that emerge in the unmanaged forest are considered in the positioning of the structural columns, the orientation of circulation, and the determination of spatial qualities. Third was the idea of the timber tension roof that was prompted by hints of a flowing or tensile roof structure in both winning competition proposals. Timber in tension, which is an unusual and under-researched type of structure, is the object of several of our technical explorations. [caption id="attachment_5844" align="alignnone" width="360"]6-steam_bending_jig Prototyping: load-testing, steam bending (3)[/caption] Our technical development, which we are now approaching with full scale prototypes, includes experiments in aluminium casting, steam bending, load-testing timber in tension, and new joinery methods, each of which have the potential to incorporate digital technologies and the use of the robotic arm. The current prototyping phase is essential for informing the iterative design process through which Wakeford Hall will emerge.
Three cycles of Design + Make will contribute to the realization of Wakeford Hall. The focus of the first phase is to be the development of the timber tension roof structure and the reforestation of the space underneath with timber columns. For instance, in this phase, some of the columns will be used structurally to support the roof while others may simply be planted in the earth or placed, horizontally, around the site. [caption id="attachment_5846" align="alignnone" width="360"]8-alum_cast_3 Prototyping: aluminium alloy cast joints (1)[/caption] The intention is to informally create and actually test the desired spatial qualities while simultaneously physically suggesting the current vision for the entire building. We anticipate that subsequent phases of design and construction will engage in a continuous process of transposition of the columns that may be re-planted elsewhere to be used structurally, for experimentation, or even removed completely. [caption id="attachment_5847" align="alignnone" width="360"]9-alum_cast_2 Prototyping: aluminium alloy cast joints (2)[/caption] The phasing of Wakeford Hall must consider not only the three cycles of its design and construction, but also a broader time-scale. In recognition of the nature of this project’s development, we are attempting, in this first phase, to set up a series of processes that will unfold over time. [caption id="attachment_5848" align="alignnone" width="360"]10-alum_cast Prototyping: aluminium alloy cast joints (3)[/caption] These are concentrated in the function of the core space, the role of prototyping in informing the design, and the gradual transformation of the landscaping. The first phase will establish parameters that might act as a guiding structure for the growth of this project long after its construction has been completed.   Design + Make Team 2015-2016: En-Kai Kuo, Rolando Madrigal, Eleni McKirahan, Diego Saenz, Paolo Salvetti, Evgenia Spyridonos, Trianzani Sulshi   For more information: Hooke Park Website Wakeford Hall Competition AA Conversations: Wakeford Hall continuous designing of Hooke Park AA Conversations: Wakeford Hall Winner: Into The Woods AA Conversations: Wakeford Hall: Honourable Mention AA Conversations: Wakeford Hall: Honourable Mention- Three Experiments for Hooke Park Design + Make on vimeo Apply to Design + Make