Thursday, April 25, 2013

Maison Bordeaux

Case Study of Maison Bordeaux
By: Kyle Miller

I found this project relative to my thesis and was inspired by the form of the building. The Architect was Rem Koolhaas and his firm OMA. He called Cecil Balmond to do the structure with an unusual request to make a villa in Bordeaux ‘fly’. The client is a family of four with the father surviving a near death car accident. He is now in a wheelchair. "Contrary to what you would expect," he told the architect, "I do not want a simple house. I want a complex house, because the house will define my world”. So Koolhause proposed a design for the private residence with three vertically stacked houses with views overlooking the rich, wine-laden city stretching along the river. These three different floors are connected with 3X3.5 meter elevator platform that also functions as fathers’ office. It moves freely between the three floors, becoming part of the living space or kitchen or transforming itself into an intimate office space, and granting access to books, artwork, and the wine cellar. This movable platform completes the space when on the particular floor but leaves a void in its wake. The bottom house is a series of caverns carved out from the hill, designed for the most intimate life of the family and also has on the ground floor on garden level is a glass room – half inside, half outside – for living. The top house is a concrete mass and has portholes windows to emulate bubbles floating. The heights of the different portholes windows took into consideration for the client in the wheelchair. Also the top house is divided into a children's and a parents' area. The middle house is sandwiched between the two masses with minimal structural obstruction and creates an infinite space by connecting with the surroundings.

The structural system of this building is interesting due to the devised cantilevered system which minimized the number of structural components. This minimalist support system consists of four main elements which include an aluminum cylinder, a large I-beam, a thin cable, and a U-shaped steel member. The cylinder supports the west end of the building and contains the staircase. It is offset to the north, creating a need for a structural counterpart to balance the cantilever. The designs choose not to add a fourth compressive leg, but instead to counter act the weight of the cantilevered structure through the use of a cord in tension on the same side as the compressing cylinder. Through an I-beam, attached to the cylinder, the weight of the cantilever is channeled to the tensile cord, which then pulls on the concrete block sunken into the earth. The U-shaped steel member supports the east end of the structure. This is composed of two columns attached to a beam through moment connections. This structural system has three legs which acts in compression, pushing on the earth. These three legs would work as a tripod, but due to the placement of the cylinder, the legs do not balance the weight of the building. The introduction of the cable pulls the entire building into balance, making this the smallest member the keystone of the structure.

Informal Cecil Balmond with Jannuzzi Smith

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