Booth design for the architecture competition: "athens heart design award 2013", on the subject of the creation of an isolation and meditation pavilion in the heart of an shopping mall. (Prize: Distinction)
This is about a space of temporary isolation from the busy rush of the commercial center whose function is similar to the photographic aperture.
It is constructed of wood wool slabs of different/various thickness cut into strips and placed one above the other. The temporary resident of the area may add or remove small pieces of wood wool between the horizontal slots of the shell and decide therefore to what extent he/she wants to communicate with the wider environment of the mall, as well as the feeling on the inner space.
The picture of this asymmetric synthesis originates from the small buildings used by the Mediterranean shepherds, built with dry wall (crude slates) and contrasts to the aesthetics of the mall. That contrast is enhanced by the neutrality of the construction’s color, as if this space creates an interruption, a kind of ‘gap’ in the overloaded by images and messages trading environment. The gap could be conceived as well through the Teaching of Zen: as the infinite space in which everything exists both as instances as well as features. The creative use of technology contributes to this reflection too.
In spite of the contrast described above, the geometry of the structure is aligned with the axes and the grid of the ground floor area where it is placed on. In the plan view, the entrance is designed parallel to the diagonal of the tiles on the floor.
The decision not to construct a closed “airtight” shell is related to: a| the willing to let the diffused light of the mall invade into the construction with no additional artificial lighting support (however, it is predicted a linear perimeter lighting that could be placed lower in the construction), b| the limited square meters available and therefore the necessity to avoid creating a sweltering and inhospitable area.
Inside the structure, complete silence will not be achieved; there will be a kind of echo of the uproar of the commercial space instead due to the high sound-absorption factor of the material. The design of the ‘lateral’ entry contributes to this intention moreover it is avoided the placement of a standard door and the feeling of being trapped.
The entire project is an attempt to provide a ‘designed interruption’ to the visual and auditory overburden environment.
Brief technical description
The basic construction material is wood wool slabs, measuring 2m x 0.50m. It is a relatively lightweight and economical building material which provides insulation, soundproofing and excellent mechanical properties. Moreover, it is considered to be an ecological material due to its low energy cost of production and its basic component, the wood, which is a natural and renewable material. It is also fire retardant.
Thick plates of 15, 2 and 3 mm alternated in height are used. The wood wool slabs are placed in such a manner so as to ensure no waste of the material and in relation to their dimensions found on the market. Their width ranges, not only for economical but for aesthetical reasons as well: the shell becomes more sculptural and interesting this way. All the plates are connected by wooden pegs and a natural resinous adhesive is applied on them. Thus the construction can be quiet easily disassembled and relocated elsewhere.
The wooden frame, made of planed spruce, enhances the static efficiency of the construction. The timber remains in its natural color and is impregnated with an ecological wood protective. In the upper part of the frame the hanging wood wool sheets are adapted with through-bolts. The way in which the joints are connected resembles to medieval wooden frames and is the easiest way to connect wood sheets in an aesthetically “acceptable” result.