Computer Clubhouse Competition, University of Liverpool, Final Submission
Mombasa, Kenya
Team 1 concept

We began by analyzing the site, with a view to extracting all the strengths and weaknesses with a special emphasis on the environmental issues-due to the very different climate to that which we were used to. Exploration of the surrounding area from a local and national point of view also highlighted many influential factors, such as climatic, political, social, cultural and historical issues. With this information we were able to identify an underlying theme which we then developed as a concept, 'contrast.'

Having chosen a conceptual idea to develop, we then went about choosing a site location within which we could work. The goal of which was to create a functional solution to all of the issues raised by the site analysis. The site location was decided upon on the grounds that the clubhouse functioned as a building that could extend the sense of community within the school and surrounding urban areas and further encourage their integration. The scheme was therefore placed in a very central location. We chose the area on which all the existing routes converged, with the intention that people would be encouraged to interact with the club house frequently, whilst commuting between the other buildings.

Since all the surrounding buildings were all very rigid, linear, and imposing we wanted our scheme to be fluid and subtle in form, carrying through the concept of contrast. Contrast was something that was with our design process from the beginning arising not only from social, political and economical contrasts but from the mere fact that a high tech computer club house was being constructed in one of the poorest continents in the world.

The access routes to the site provided a great starting point for the flowing form of our design. Another key issue we all felt strongly about was, since it was very important for our scheme to be central, we really did not want it to detract from the existing plaza space - hence the landscaped form over the Clubhouse functions as a transitional element that people can use as opposed to a building that becomes an obstacle in a route. The result of which, we feel addresses the idea of encouraging people to interact with the scheme.

Design decisions:
One of the most dominant forms in our clubhouse design is the raised plaza that travels over the clubhouses room spaces. This form developed from the belief that we didn't want the building to hinder any routes through what is a focal space within the school campus, which is also echoed in the building forms beneath the plaza, being highly permeable, both physically and visually. (Glass ends to the buildings on the sides which face the sight continue the visual permeability.)

The idea of having the shallow, grassy banks leading up to the plaza space was, to give the impression, although not feasible at all points, that the raised area is not only accessible from most angles but that it is all part of the whole campus i.e. that it blends in. When on the raised plaza area, there are views across the sports fields and also onto the "natural amphitheatre" created by the landscaping.

The shape of the building arching out towards the pitches creates a natural court space at the front of the building and thus the curve of the grass banks was accentuated and stepped into hugging the court space creating a natural outdoor amphitheatre.

A sliding wooden roof construction was implemented for utilizing the court space when weather conditions will favour outdoor working spaces.

Tree shaded walkways frame the site round its perimeter, creating a visual frame to the scheme as well as the dappled shade creating a relaxing pattern on the pale stone floor.

We very much wanted to adopt a low-tech approach to the buildings ventilation system which in turn played a significant part in how the buildings form developed. The shape of the scheme and its orientation in the site were carefully chosen to utilize the prevailing winds. The schemes shape in relation to these winds creates air pressure differences encouraging air movement all around it. The spaces between the buildings allow air flow between them (as well as creating a visual link between the parts of the site which they dissect) and the space between plaza and the building segments' roofs is designed to encourage the movement of air over the buildings drawing heat from their physical masses.

The ability to completely open up the building segments' adjacent facades enables the possibility of one much larger space as well as providing some cross ventilation between rooms. The spaces between the three main building segments can also be opened or closed, by sets of latticed, concertina doors, enabling many different combinations of spaces. The raised plaza also shades the rooms beneath entirely from the sun.

The materials we decided on were predominantly influenced by local availability and the climate but also the contrast theme. It was decided that it would be more appropriate and efficient to use lighter weight materials on the building segments as opposed to on the raised plaza area. The contrast being between heavy and lightweight materials. The raised plaza, as can be seen in the section, is constructed of reinforced concrete but dressed with a dark wood as are the latticed concertina doors. The building segments are constructed of earth brick and glass on a limestone platform. The landscaping is predominantly grass, however there are exposed areas on the sports fields side which reveal the concrete enforcing the idea of contrast.

The audio lab (as well as the toilets and storeroom) was placed within the plazas banks - see plan, to take advantage of the natural sound insulation it provides whilst at the same time making use of space that would otherwise be wasted.

All the rooms have power points enabling the users to adopt a plug and play approach to any computer work. There are also power points outside in the "amphitheatre" area.

We have used three mediums for the display of our scheme, drawing, and two CAD programs. We felt the drawings were the best way of translating the ambiance. The sketchup would be used for presenting the form of the scheme within it's context and the Auto CAD would be the best way to represent the technical drawings and materials.

Team 2 Concept

When we first looked at the brief our main concerns were to create a 'classroom of the future', complete with wireless networking and new technologies, providing a chance to introduce the community in Mombasa to 21st century technologies, and to encourage the development of basic skills, creative thinking, problem-solving, and a sense of community. A place where adults and children come together to learn and socialise; mixing work and play and escaping the traditional idea of a four walled classroom.

Another concern was to create a suitable environment for working and playing in a tropical climate and also to create a suitable design that would sit comfortably within the Aga Khan Academy and its traditional style buildings.

As a solution to this vision we decided that an organisation of separate areas with interlocking verandas and courtyard areas would promote air flow and sense of space within the clubhouse and that use of traditional materials such as timber and stone/earth bricks would help our building sit well in its context.

Design Decisions
Our initial design was a basic open topless box enclosing a large courtyard around which are set inward-facing rooms. However we felt that this did not interact with the rest of the Academy or allow interaction between the different activities and areas within the clubhouse itself. From this design we continued to try to 'open up' the square box, while retaining separate spaces for different activities and also linking spaces such as verandas and balconies to promote a sense of community.

We also added a large louvered roof construction which although was primarily a climatic response became an integral part of our design scheme, and eventually decided on the organisation of our spaces below it in order to allow it to become a focal point of the clubhouse. As you enter the clubhouse under this louvered roof you are immediately brought into an open space from where you can see all the different activities taking place, even the graphics and computer room on the first floor, but the roof aims to link these spaces and thus create a less daunting area. However, this large roof structure would produce a large amount of rainwater that would need draining so we developed a system within the wall at the bottom of the louvered roof, thus creating a water feature of the wall and channeling the water under ground where it is collected and stored, and manually pumped up when required.

Construction method: in order to create a building that relates to its surroundings we wanted to use traditional materials; unfired earth blocks to be stabilised with a small preparation of cement, roof tiles made of cement, and a local hardwood timber scarfed together to achieve wider spans.

Here we have a design that is a fine example of an elegantly humble yet modern architecture, which will successfully give the users a sense of dignity and pleasure to be part of the school.

John Milligan
Rafiq Mogra
Kristin Morris
Mombasa, Kenya
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