tower – a place of brutal exposure and incomparable vistas

April 23rd, 2011 | Richard Almond

Tower Studies

The termination of a route, the tower sits as a pin in the open water. Wind roars through its permeable facades, icy waters lash at those visitors who dare to scale it. This is enclosure in the faintest sense of the word, one must truly experience the raw power of Iceland’s elements to reap the reward of glorious views.

transient enclosures

April 22nd, 2011 | Richard Almond

Ebbing tides brush mesh against one another, animating juxtaposing static and floating elements. The optical effect reminds one of the kinetic nature of the academy, continuously in flux, never static.

animated facade

April 15th, 2011 | Richard Almond

Material Testing

An unexpected yet welcome discovery made whist experimenting with metal mesh and water was the material’s ability to hold the liquid within itself. As water washes over the finer grades of mesh, droplets are temporarily captured, before slowly filtering downward under gravity. The effect is rather mesmerising, an abstract, pixelated, almost digital cascade of luminous squares provide animation. In reality a mesh facade sitting into sea water would be continuously lapped by incoming waves, creating an evolving, moving facade.

Material Testing

testing materiality

April 14th, 2011 | Richard Almond

Material Testing

Thinking about the material quality of the academy, I began to experiment with a range of metals. Click here for more images.

Material Testing

In relation to previous posts, facade treatment will use areas of mesh to allow visitors to experience the elements whilst retaining a sense of enclosure. The materials above are ultra-fine stainless steel mesh, fine copper mesh, medium brass mesh and a coarse steel mesh. I also experimented with some sheet brass. Taking inspiration from the Reykjavik vernacular, I have extracted a number of key elements common to many of 101′s buildings, and used them to devise a treatment I feel is both respectful to a unique city and practical for a floating building.

Sketchbook Doodles


Light and Transparency

One of the qualities of mesh is its seemingly multi-dimensionality. Viewed front-on, a mesh may appear almost completely transparent, yet when viewed from an acute angle, the same mesh may appear as an almost solid object. The way in which light reflects from a mesh facade is similarly dynamic, as seen from the comparative images below, the angle from which the sunlight hits the material has a dramatic effect upon its appearance and how it is read.

Material Testing

Material Testing

Material Testing

Material Testing


Water Retention

The building’s facade will of course be constantly exposed to sea water and rain. The perforated nature of mesh means it may hold droplets of water. A very fine mesh acts in a way similar to a piece of cloth, allowing light to penetrate through whilst water simply runs off (left image below). A more coarse gauge of mesh (right image below) will retain much of the water within its perforations. Over-laying differing gauges of mesh creates further unique interactions between facade and water.

Material Testing

Material Testing

Material Testing

Material Testing


Erosion and Weathering

The prospect of metal cladding being in constant contact with sea water poses both a problem and an opportunity. The static components of the building will see Reykjavik’s huge 5m tidal range engulf much of the facade, the movement of salt water across the surface of the metal is likely to cause some chemical response, generating a prominent band of effected material. The floating elements of the building will still encounter constant lapping from the sea, the winds will drive spray through mesh facades and across decks. Although renowned for being one of the cleanest cities in Europe, acid rain does exist in Reykjavik, and this is something that would have a definite effect upon a metal facade. Below are examples of brass sheets exposed to acid, which can very quickly strip the sheen from the material. The left image has been pre-treated with wax in sections to mask the acid, creating an attractive aesthetic.

Material Testing

Material Testing

layers of enclosure

April 13th, 2011 | Richard Almond

Layers of Facade

Rather than a solid facade differentiating between inside and outside, the transition is eroded. A series of meshes mediate gradually between a sealed inner box and the world beyond, offering inhabitants intermittent glimpses of the elements. The connection to the water and the landscape is heightened, visitors experience a gusting wind, splashing waves and the sounds and smells of a working harbour as they move through the building. There is, however, a sense of enclosure and protection, a suitable level of containment which allows users a sense of safety whilst they inhabit a series of floating platforms in constant motion.

site un-adjustment

April 3rd, 2011 | Richard Almond

Site Unadjustment

The issue of site has continued to crop up since I decided to move piers a few months back. Most recently in my penultimate review, critics felt unanimously that my site should be the more westerly pier on which I originally chose to work. Many of the reasons for which I decided to switch to Ingólfsgarður have proven to become somewhat redundant as the project has progressed, and therefore I am deciding to re-adjust back to my previous site.

Of course the beauty of a floating building is that it can simply be towed across the water, the move itself will require only minimal redesigning of the building and so will still be feasible at this late stage. The issue of access to the site across a public square will have to be considered, yet I do feel the problem could be solved elegantly. For a project aiming to extend the public realm into the water, it seems logical for its siting just off a public square, and completely illogical for it to be hidden away behind the most prominent building in Reykjavik. The issue of access to open water for the boats will be aided through cutting back Ingólfsgarður to a size more akin to the planned smaller marina piers along the southern edge of the harbour. All in all this is the correct decision and one I feel very confident about.

inspiration – wwII sea forts

April 1st, 2011 | Richard Almond

These WWII sea forts were built in the Thames estuary to protect London from German attack. The forts comprise of 7 individual platforms, originally linked by bridges, in which specialist teams of Royal Navy personnel were stationed with the task of providing anti-aircraft fire and observation. Situated over 9 miles from nearest land, the cluster of towers were decommissioned in the 1950s and have been subsequently used as a base for pirate radio through the 60s and 70s. As of today the forts remain abandoned.

Their grungy, weather-beaten, violent functionality is gorgeously terrifying.

kinetics, texture and geometry

March 28th, 2011 | Richard Almond

Sailing & Maritime Academy

elevational studies

March 19th, 2011 | Richard Almond

Elevational studies of the various components of the academy. Testing roof pitches and facade colouration in a play on Reykjavik’s vernacular.

Elevational Studies

inspiration – magnus volk’s electric sea railway

March 17th, 2011 | Richard Almond

A problem I’ve been struggling with recently is in how to allow the various sections of my building to move, without allowing them to be entirely free-floating. Movement should be flexible yet defined. I entertained the idea of running railway style tracks along the sea bed and fixing runners to the base of the supporting legs of each element, and discovered the Brighton Electric Sea Railway. Local, slightly loopy entrepreneur Magnus Volk had intended to extend his successful Brighton Electric Railway in the late 1890s to nearby Rottingdean, but faced costly construction problems due to difficult terrain. His brainwave was to run an alternative through the sea.

2.8 miles of railway track were laid along the coastline at a distance of 60-100 yards from the shore, visible at low tide, they were completely submerged at high tide.




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