Gaia (Mixed-Use Building) by Aaron Leppanen
2016 - 2017, Golden A' Architecture, Building and Structure Design Award Winner
The poetics of form created by urban influences. Using sculptural techniques as a mechanism for blending urban fabric and architecture. The play between form and structure and the newly found, unconventional relationship between the two. The parametric/ iterative digital process that allows for multiple solutions to predetermined problems. Integration of efficiency into sculptural methods of design.
Gaia is located near a newly proposed government building that incorporates a metro stop, a large shopping center, and the city's most important urban park. The mixed-use building with its sculptural movement acts as a creative attractor for inhabitants of the offices as well as the residential spaces. This requires a modified synergy between city and building. The varied programming actively engages the local fabric throughout the day, becoming a catalyst for what will inevitably soon be a hotspot.
Design Challenges
Gaia represents a giant step in the advancement of construction possibilities for Ecuador. This was the first time GFRC panels were used in this country, generating technological progress and new industry. As this fabrication technique is new here, it was challenging to find a contractor who could adequately fulfill our technical specifications. The facade incorporates a repeating patterning system allowing greater efficiency in fabrication costs and production time. The building footprint is a perfect square, also a key factor in the conceptualizing of the repeatable pattern.
Production Technology
The structure combines concrete and steel and GFRC panels wrap the whole facade. The close relation between analog mold making and a parametric digital model proved key to the facade’s success. The facade incorporates a repeating patterning system allowing greater efficiency in fabrication costs and production times. A simple rigid steel structure is integrated into the GFRC panels. This system also includes adjustable connections to ease panel alignment and make up for inconsistencies in the construction process. The design of the panels allows their use as balcony handrails.
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