Code , a collaboration between Nassim Es-Haghi, George Kontalonis, Jared Ramsdell, and Rana Zureikat, challenges the traditional campus typology that exists today, by looking into education, society, environment and networks with their ‘Vertical Ground’ Skyscraper proposal. Their concept proposes a deployable system that can reconfigure into any environment and function as a flexible and interconnected campus. The synthesis is a new definition of a campus, one that is set within today’s environment and society. More images and the team’s description after the break.
Code  was formed under the proto-design agenda of the Design Research Laboratory at the Architectural Association and situated within Patrik Schumacher’s agenda for a Semiological Campus. The studio viewed architecture as a frame to order and adapt society, while pursuing architectural distinctions and differentiation to have embedded cognitive intelligibility.
The project deals with a proto-campus that is not site specific, but context specific. It also dealt with urban sites that have embedded culture & activities, relationships on the micro and macro scale, social behavior and architectural typology. Due to a tower’s basic approach to circulation and the diverse chaotic circulation of campuses, it was essential to break down the relentless expression of floor plates. This happened through dividing the tower into groupings of program and open space, core articulation, and by activating open spaces with horizontal connections to adjacent schools.
The program clusters are generated per school type. Programmatic relationships were the fundamental driver of organization, based upon an agency and time. The agent was a vital contributor to the organization, as their travel distance and experience were focused on movement. Each school has its own distinct hierarchy of spaces and their connections, thus allowing the micro to develop the macro. The spaces connect based upon circulation patterns, room adjacencies and student capacities. These were then added to public and private relationships to provide for a multi-dimensional series of rules. Spaces were also developed to have the third dimension; this created a densely packed program that provides for a diverse section. The over-all campus became reduced due to the non-standard approach to slab and spaces.
Since the goal of the proposal was to create a proto-system for site, program, aesthetics and structure, we chose Manhattan as our testing ground for its melting pot qualities. We choose to use this for our proto-campus because of its diverse site types. Initially we tested our proto-campus upon 4 different sites, a larger site in Chelsea, an infill site in the Lower East, a typical block in Upper East, and a small site in Midtown.
However, once we proved the system could be deployed on any site constraints, we then chose to pursue two diverse locations with the most challenging site constraints: Chelsea and Midtown. Chelsea became a grouping of schools with distinct relationships, while midtown became a superblock where the schools fused together almost completely. The deployment of the system is implemented through our own processing algorithms that once again use agents to determine the campus’s over-all layout and form.
The interesting part of doing two scenarios with the same system is how the results differ. The distinctions can be seen on the over-all massing, where each campus becomes extremely distinct formally. However, there were also inherent internal changes, such as fused cores, overlapping schools, and continuous circulation networks in Midtown. Where as Chelsea remained more distinct formally by having separate schools, sky bridges, and un-fused cores. The results show the proto-campuses adaptability and performance in any site while still maintaining a campuses functionality and phenomenology.