CLIENT                USI
YEAR                   2020
LOCATION           Basel, Switzerland
PROFESSOR       Aires Mateus
TAGS                   Architecture, Medium, Model

  - Archetype of the tent as an existing Open Architecture.-

The topic of  “an open architecture” suggested making an infrastructure that allows the wildest possibilities to happen: architecture without content and thus a paradigm in itself. Instead of creating a new expression for this demand, looking at the history of architecture shows that the existing typology of the tent - the oldest form of human made architecture- has been used for countless programs through history. From societal (homes, refugee camps), recreational (circus, festivals, camping), cultural (exhibitions), to even political (protests) and military (barracks) ones. Its primitive shape is super-charged with local cultural meaning since many cultures over time adopted the typology, yet understood and experienced by everyone. The archetype of the tent could thus serve as an existing open architecture. At the same time, a tent is referred to something degradable, temporary and nomadic while the brief asked for something that could potentially be there for centuries. Therefore is this paradox continued into one of permanent temporality by solidifying the ephemeral tent. Movement becomes stillness, soft becomes solid and tension becomes compression.
The design starts from covering the plot with a cloth. Defined by is structural limit (shell structure with no columns), the textile allows slight manipulations only where necessary, creating a new territory with a multitude of various spaces.
The material condition is defined by the concept of a tent. By casting with textile formwork, the concrete subverts it stereotypical associations from rigid and dense to something viscous and light. The material captures the memory of the textile imprint through its stitches and weaving patterns. The building process uses (prefabricated) materials that are locally sourced and stored so transport time by boat is reduced. The (PE/PP) fabric can after the casting process of a phase be reused for another one and later recollected for other purposes.

The site is located in Klybeck, the former industrial area of Basel dedicated to textile/dye processing that later developed to the production of pharmaceuticals. After decades this enclave finally opened up, allowing the connection between the existing cultural sector along the Rhine promenade. The proposal becomes a covered territory along this path that acts as the new social and cultural backbone of the newly developed neighborhood.
The project also connects to its industrial past of dying by addressing the current negative impact of textile industries on the nature with its harmful chemicals used in the production process. Research and methods used in many countries for thousands of years shows that by replacing synthetical chemical with natural ones, textiles can release substances that are beneficial to our health. Besides their physical advantage, these particles and their aromatics get released by wind, touch or heat also create a scent that can evoke profound memories. The herbs and fruits used for the dying/pigmenting are all locally sourced in Switzerland, most of these natural ingredients are specialized to improve the respiratory system and give a sense of comfort (such as Edelweiss and Elderflower). This gives the concrete its unique yellow hue.




© Studio Narra 2021