Offset Ceilings

Offset CeilingsPreston Scott Cohen, Options Studio, Spring 406Despite dominating the visual field of architectural space and offering the greatest possibility of continuous reinvention, the ceiling often remains astonishingly under designed. After considering the consequences of this oversight, this studio will explore the ceiling as a primary means of developing highly integrative architectural systems for exterior and interior urban spaces and buildings. The investigation will be conducted according to three programs located in relation to pre-existing structures in the Boston area, each with ceilings to varying degrees integrated and disassociated from their roofs. Increasingly, the programs will require the integration of geometry with structure, natural light, drainage, sprinklers, acoustics, artificial lighting. The first program is a canopy spanning between large buildings over an unenclosed, linear, directional downtown space. In this case, the roof and the ceiling behave as if offset from one another. The ceiling or roof are the manifestation of thickening a single surface, the conditions above and below being thermally the most similar of the three examples to be examined. The second program is an interior, centralized, centrifugal space. Here the ceiling is independent of the roof, though both play a similar architectural role in their mutually exclusive atmospheres. The two will be designed to elaborate upon the panoptic plan of existing granite walls surrounding a former prison, walls soon to contain a hotel. The final program is a temporary museum for the Fogg Museum. In this case, the plan is neither directional nor centralized. Instead, it must accommodate a flexible, changeable plan while providing a consistent light source. The investigation of various scales of porosity will lead to the development of an irreducible duality in which ceiling and roof, though accepting different demands from above and below, are nevertheless simultaneously dedicated to the transmission of light and its trajectories of reflectivity. The studio will focus on the development of techniques that simultaneously account for the students\’ individual architectural sensibilities and the rational behaviour of the geometries that define the overall synthetic form of the ceilings in their specific contexts. In order to shed light on individual approaches and signatures, thus producing critical criteria, the studio will establish a shared geometric language primarily founded on rigorous techniques for translating continuous curved surfaces into modulated fields. For the first few weeks, the studio will research these methods, before turning to the task of application to the programmatically specific conditions. Ultimately, our goal is to test the limits of this geometry, its behaviour under particular material and programmatic constraints, and its effects in certain lighting conditions. The critical assessment of its capacity to yield or preclude ever higher levels of systemic integration may also lead to alternatives and counter proposals.