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Complexity of Systems
2018 Semester 2
2nd Year Bachelor of Design
The analysis of a residential precedent work involves the investigation of key construction systems utilised.
Precedent - Queenscliff House by John Wardle Architects
This assignment was aimed to explore the considerations for the construction of a single dwelling house in the outer Melbourne, by Port Philip Bay.
I was given a section of the house to research and summarise in relation to the actual construction methodologies that were employed.
The analysis does reveal not only the tectonic aspect of the residential project but also the involvement of numerous tradespeople and labour work and the complexity in the execution of the work.
Systems Working Together
Like puzzle pieces
While we tend to focus on categorisation of architectural components based on their types - structure, cladding, framing, lining, etc. - we should be aware of factors that assist us with specifying the right building systems. See right for the possible factors.
The factors do not limit the building systems to specific products. For example, rather than separating structure from finishes or lining, we could identify a structure as an element with load-bearing/ transferring capacity. A well-designed structure may respond to labour efficiency, material attributes, consideration for embodied energy, structural complexity and more. This way of thinking about construction encourages us to be creative with how we treat materials and to design a building beyond preconceived ideas.
The factors work like puzzle pieces. None of them can work by itself, and each of the pieces is shaped by individual design briefs and site contexts/ constraints.
On a more conceptual level, a project in an imaginary 3 x 3 x 3m cube reflects the idea of moving away from labelling components based on types. A staircase can also be bookshelves, and the ceiling can also be a private reading space. The desk can extend to become a landing of stairs. Categorising architectural elements based on functions provides deeper meanings to them.
Relationship between Climate and Building Systems
Responding to the climate of the site
The construction systems respond to the climate of the site as well as to other site contexts. This case study house is located in the southwestern area of Victoria, which is in Zone 6 - Mild temperate zone. If a house is to be built at another site in a different climate, the design response would be quite distinctive.
Climate zone informs temperature and humidity fluctuations over seasons. It is a critical factor for selecting suitable materials, structural systems, envelope systems and services (e.g. air conditioning). For example, concrete is a useful material as thermal mass in the temperate climate, whereas lightweight timber structure is often favoured in the northern tropical regions in Australia.
Consideration for the climate is also relevant for landscape architecture. Just like materials and construction systems, each plant has various characteristics and appropriate applications. For the Landscape studio, the research into native plants led me to create a diagram of plant groups in zones with varying suitable environmental conditions.
While systems involved are different, the climate is relevant for both architecture and landscape architecture.
Source: Australian Building Codes Board
Working with Industry Professionals
Resolving design & procurement
One of the significant aspects of construction I learnt through tertiary education and working at an architecture firm is the collaboration with the consultants, builders and tradespeople in resolving design and procuring the project.
Working with the industry professionals through the project allows architects to be better informed about the site, requirements to meet compliance, technical solutions to design and most suitable construction methodologies.
The recommendations made by professionals respond to architectural prepositions and contexts, and it is crucial that architects ensure the effectiveness of the advice and integrate into the documentation.
Specifications and construction details are often resolved through discussing with builders and consultants. For more specific details on construction systems, check out the project below.
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