A study of Architectural Time
As an act of sustainable design and preservation of future intangible heritage of the city of Vancouver, this project is an attempt to design a building that lasts hundreds of years using tactics like long-lasting material use, understanding some of the complex layers of human-scale rhythms and time, and employing the question “What is worth saving?” when designing form and function of the building.
Slated for demolition
The Vancouver Aquatic Center, built in 1974, has been a successful community pool and recreation center for 43 years. Yet, the building has been slated for demolition, presenting environmental and societal repercussions that precipitate a larger conversation about architectural time. As the city of Vancouver matures, our cultural and societal context deepens, but with every building demolished, a loss of compound place occurs.
This project aims to measure and intervene in this premature demolition trend. Within the context of the site and city of Vancouver, this thesis uses seven measures of time to construct a plan for the use of the site over the next 300 years.
Existing currently as a successful indoor pool, the Vancouver Aquatic Center is a key piece of the public amenities of the West End, as well as the greater Vancouver area. However due to seismic upgrading requirements, the building has been slated for demolition, rather than spending the projected $40 Million for the upgrade. With this in mind, the first intervention is to remove the existing roof and walls to attempt to save the sturdy foundation for future use.
The first intervention maintains the public pool amenity, but because the roof and walls are removed from the original, it becomes an outdoor pool. The existing facilities are therefore maintained. The top floor/entry becomes a open air, covered viewing platform. Access to the water is enhanced with a remodeling of the surrounding hardscape. Combination stair-ramps are added in concrete to provide long-term access through the site, providing a physical connection from the pool platform to the Vancouver seawall. The new roof structure added is an attempt to reuse part of the original roof double-T precast concrete panels, thus elongating the life of the original panels.
As the years go by, the pool foundations and machinery age and wear out, no longer able to function as a pool. Thus a renovation is required. As an outdoor venue, the public amenity usage does not shift completely, but adapts to the aging facilities. In the building itself, the top floor comes to house a restaurant and lobby where people can still participate with the site, but now with an added layering of comfort. As a speculation of programmatic needs, people require a place to sit, eat, and drink, and would do so more happily with a show to watch or a place to look out over.
In the event of an earthquake around 300 years from now, about 3 years after, this facility could act as an emergency provisions hub. A pier is added so there is good access to the water when all the bridges collapse, cutting off land-based travel. Boats can come up to the pier because of the 3 meter rise in sea level. The bottom facilities are destroyed by water. The basement facilities are still kept, but perhaps only as storage or boat and vehicular repair stations. Upstairs is renovated to become a place for people gather information, communications, and provisions, based on the assumption that in any disaster situation, if not just technology, at least people become affected by the drastic and dramatic changes occurring in everyday routine. This structure is ramshackle, but efficient and effective. A tower is made in order to keep the wind power and solar cells up high, as well as a viewing tower for optimal orientation.
Architecture is the physical form which envelops human lives in all the complexity of their relations with their environment. Jean Renaudie