The kinetics of the environment

Monday 12 Mar 2012

Paul Morgan Architects debate how architectural concepts are driven from features of the environment

The projects produced by Paul Morgan Architects are driven by central questions: how can the kinetics of the environment be applied to create sustainable form? Their projects somehow reflect the restless character of a mid sized, young, highly decentralised city-Melbourne, and respond to their location on the fringes of this city, on the coast or bush. The resultant buildings are often directional, bounded forms that reveal orchestrated, mise en scène approach to interiors-the creation of an environment around which the events of everyday life unfold.

The Cape Schanck House is located in an area near rugged coastline subject to strong prevailing winds and sits within an expanse of native tea tree. The shell of the house was developed as a result of the analysis of sunlight movement and wind frequency, speed and direction, and the modelling of the wind onto the site. This modelling was applied with expressive effect to the resultant performance envelope of the house.

The Chisholm Automotive and Logistics Centre (ALC), located on the outer south-east of the city, responds to the flows of movement through the city-freeway networks, freight movements, wind dynamics. These flows influence the streamlining of the building envelope, reducing the building mass in the streetscape.

Located on the relatively new northern fringe of Melbourne, the NMIT Student Centre points towards the city centre. The building is a bounded, tapered envelope, ‘lifted' along the street elevation to reveal students in the library and gym.

In the Frankston Yacht Club, the ‘kinetics of the environment' produces flows through the site, which affect the building and landscape forms. The envelope is a concrete carapace, like the hard bony outer covering of a crustacean's head and thorax.

Similarly, the Blowhouse is located on the coast. It is a speculative project set in 2030, when climate change has affected Australia's environment so dramatically that the interior desert now meets the south east Australian coastline. In this context the challenge is how to survive the environment. The practices approach is one of ‘terraforming', or the creation of a survivable, self sustaining 'life support unit' or micro-ecology.

In contrast, the Trunk House is located in a forest. This project has attempted to evolve the building type, the small weekender, by answering a simple question-how does one go into a forest and use the forms of the ecology to build a house? In concert with the engineer, timber forks, or bifurcations were utilised as the form for the structure. The internal lining boards were milled from trees felled on site, seasoned where they fell, and then fixed internally.

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