Computer Clubhouse Competition, University of Mexico, Final Submission
Mombasa, Kenya
Team 1 Concept

The vision that inspired this project was a vernacular one. A reinterpretation of the local culture through the eyes of a very particular culture as our own. The need to understand the materials and the location as well as the functions of such a space in an environment that has nothing to do with what we understood as a technology suited space.

We also had the intention of developing a complex that would accommodate the feeling of being an ephemeral conception of space and could be versatile enough so, in the long term, function and solve different needs. We aimed to develop a light structure that could aid the development of the community and also give a familiar feeling to the users and facilitate their approach as well as enhance the sense of community.

The idea for this project sprung from the image of a typical Kenyan fabric, textile or weaving in which the internal space is generated in a tight manner and starts disintegrating as it "pulls out" from the center. The center point scheme is the patio, which is wrapped by the verandah and projects itself toward the circulation nodes or hotspots generating tension within the centre and its context. This conforms a common space in which the spirit of the project takes place, the patio.

The patio is contained by five buildings which are bound to keep a rhythmic display of "full and empty", "positive and negative", "ying and yang" generating second degree open spaces or patios between each building. This allows flexible spaces capable of extending to its outer limits.

The facilities (offices and restrooms) are situated in the eastern and western fronts and are independent buildings with independent flat rooftops, which provoke a big contrast with the double height, curved rooftop. This double-height is calculated to be 8m and will accommodate the "technology areas" (computer, fabrication and audio labs). These placed in the south front to assure good ventilation, and in order of appearance will follow the patio and last in the north front the wood, crafts workshops. The height of the latter buildings (wood and craft workshop) is the standard 4.5m.

The curved rooftop and its north-south orientation favor ventilation to the inside through the technology areas, cooling down the patio and liberating fumes and odors from the workshops in the back. The technology area is distributed in the lower level by the audio lab in the western front and by the fabrication lab in the eastern front. There is a double-height area in the center where a meeting room can be accommodated and functions as a visual and physical juncture to every other space inside the complex, in the inside there is a wall for screenings and the stairs that communicate the computer lab in the first floor, same floor to which handicapped people can access from the outside.

The ramp is conceived as an extension of the verandah on the north front, which articulates the access to the rest of the school complex, crosses over the patio, takes us up to the computer lab as it catches a view from the ocean. This way all the verandahs spring from the transit area within the complex, to the east we run into the junior academy, to the south with the football court, and to the west with the senior laboratory and the swimming pools.

The proposed material for the structure of the buildings is steel which supports a double wooden and a single glass skin which slide in and out from the buildings allowing the flow of air and regulating sun exposure, also to isolate spaces and protect equipment, wood coverings that remind typical local roofs and a selection of local materials for paving, like stones and clays that give the local user the feeling of familiarity in all of the different atmospheres within the complex.

Design decisions:
We are very interested in the main idea of originating a community in a physical manner from a virtual community, this is the computer house. Most of the design decisions made in this project were based upon the characteristics of the place and the environment and the need for a community spirit or scenario. Since the beginning we were determined to make this a functional complex that could endure time and all sorts of changes, that in the future could be considered as a suitable space for other activities. We also thought about its looks as something that would be "light" and very familiar for the users and locals, something that could be a "free-standing object" with its very particular personality. A particular space that could help the user feels at ease with the facilities and also accommodates all the needs that started the idea in the first place.

The interior design of each module was conceived aiming physical and visual communication between the main courtyard and the surroundings. This way we create a series of interlocking modules or walls that aim to direct circulation and flow from the inside out.

As Mexicans we understand the need for community areas, the breeze, the climate and the importance of shading, these topics were our main concern. We find it easy for us to relate to these kinds of situations so we studied our own local solutions for these problems. We ran across very different solutions all over the country and we decided to work with the local materials already proposed. We tried to decipher the most suitable form and concept to start and we finally chose the woven fabric as a very familiar image for the local culture and started from there.

Team 2 Concept

We thought of the image of the tree to be the symbol to that would help us develop our ideas and reach the community at a personal level. We thought about the importance of this image for education, and the community in general. We are concerned for the needs of the users and we aim to propose the best way for them to approach the complex.

We tried to enhance the meaning of education and how different the project can be taking into account the technology as a factor that will determine the use, display and looks. We have considered this symbol to be also a refuge from the weather and the sun, the way local cultures use it but now we've tried to understand this complex as a shelter too. We're positive that these ideas have played a big role in the conception of the building and in the end will become a refuge against weather, sun and also ignorance.

We also aimed to play with the spaces, and making them recreational and multifunctional. We gave a lot of thought to the levels in the sense that we wanted to create the sensation of freedom and open spaces, the heights could help the user have different perspectives of the space and experience different atmospheres. We consider the shadowing an important factor for this project as we are convinced that the light will have an important impact in the appreciation of this project.

The concept for this project is the banyan tree as a symbol of education, the local vegetation and because of its very particular characteristics (shading, ventilation and humidity absorption).

The multistructural nature of this tree was our inspiration for the project. We were very interested in the idyllic image of education, being imparted while sitting under a tree. For our particular purposes we decided to "climb up the tree," use the entire tree and try to reproduce the multistructure for our complex.

The position of our project is right in the middle of the main access circulation of the university and is thought to have the first wind impact all at once; this is that all the buildings of our complex are bound to receive the same amount of air or breeze at the same time. So according to the images you would be able to notice that the wind does not entirely impact the building but rather flows between, over and under the building.

We thought of this object as something that can be "occupied" in all its levels and be experienced in a vertical manner. For this we created levels and a sublevel, this gives the user the variety of heights that could vary from 1.70m to 3.5 from the ground floor and 5.30 from the sublevel to the highest level in the building. This assures the airing, different shadings and views.

This also creates courtyards with different sublevels that take the user to the most important sublevel which is the main patio. This community area is a multifunctional space that could in the future become the central reunion spot in which different events (such as academic, cultural or even sports) could take place.

The spirit of the project helped us decipher that the different areas should be isolated so we could enhance the vertical touring. The different areas are grouped according to their functions by which the ground floor accommodates the office and restrooms, the second level accommodates wood and craft workshops, and in the highest level we decided to accommodate the technology area with the computer clubhouse, audio lab and printing room. The access to the different levels is designed for everybody, handicapped people being able to access through the ramps to all the levels.

For this project we thought it was very important to make a clear differentiation between ramps and verandahs. Our ramps are purely access and circulation devices while our verandahs are situated around the buildings facilitating access to the other levels and the staircase. Each level and building has a verandah that can turn into a working space if needed, this by means of wooden and glass folding doors.

Design solutions:
Our main concern with our design solutions was the surrounding and the environment. That our building could share the main characteristics of a tree, which are, shading, cooling, and community spirit that could lodge different activities being this what we understand as multifunctional areas.

We acknowledged the importance of the contact with nature and the need for the user to feel a sense of community and sharing as well as keeping themselves from the weather and have a guarantee of a space that could support different kinds of activities and uses if required.

For structural purposes we decided to accommodate our multistructure according to a grid that could support our buildings while at the same time simulating the original multistructure displayed in the lower part of the banyan trees.

Regarding the staircase and the upper structure we tried to make an analogy with the treetop and how the branches grow thinner as they ascend. We decided the staircase to represent the thickest part of the tree, the trunk of the tree, which would give support to the rest of the multistructure.
Mombasa, Kenya
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