Abstrevolution

Master of Architecture (U of T) Thesis

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Hybrid Drawing

Abstrevolution
December 2015
Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design, University of Toronto
Advisor: John Shnier

(recipient of the 2016 Toronto Society of Architects Scholarship: awarded for being a graduate thesis that demonstrates an innovative approach to city building and urban form)

This thesis seeks to introduce new form, rooted in layers of tradition, into Punjabi architecture. Through the formal abstraction and evolution of traditional forms and spatial relationships, an architecture is derived which provides a novel sense of visceral and visual experience. Four primary methods are used in this development: form-finding through abstraction, giving a tectonic dimension to ad hoc space, introducing new experience to existing form, and finally, combining existing forms. The didactic representation of the architectural tropes pays homage to the miniature painting style that has predominated Punjab since the mughal era.

This investigation uses the disconnect between the Quila Mubarak fort in the Patiala, Punjab and its surrounding bazaar as a departure point. The Quila, although extremely rich in its historical significance and architectural presence, stands as a symbol of obsolescence in its relation to the current spirit of the city. The newly derived forms are combined in an assembly of potential with similar scale and site conditions to the fort to propose a new monumental space for users. For the purpose of this thesis exploration, the new assembly of form imagines the site of the Quila as invisible in order to relieve the burden of its physical weight, while being able to explore a new network of form and space.

images (top to bottom): oblique site plan of new assembly / Quila Mubarak context + site / modes of derivation / exterior walls of Quila / Quila main gate / Quila interior (window woodwork)

Punjab State, north-western India

Patiala District, south-eastern Punjab

Quila Mubarak, Patiala (aerial view)

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view of main gate (from bazaar)

Existing Conditions

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Techniques used to generate 4 experimental tropes

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Trope 1

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Section
ਨਿਗਰਾਨ ਬੁਰਜ(m) - nigraan burj
Observation Tower

City Horizon Line

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The 'Observation Tower' is derived from the rearrangement and repurposing of geometric star and polygonal shapes that exist in vernacular Punjabi tile work, stone screens and marble inlay. The tower can be read on the horizon from the city's rooftops as a symbolic icon of identity while also allowing for city-dwellers to look onto their city. The tower is vestigial to the watch towers in Punjabi fort structures, but privileged points of view that once allowed royals to look upon their reign become points of privilege for the public to experience their city. Contrasting it's symbolic height, the tower bridges the gap between terrestrial and celestial with a stone lattice transitioning from greens to blues. This cladding reverses the privileged luxury of lavish palace interiors.

View from Balustrade

Trope 2

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Section
ਬੋਹੜ ਛਤਰੀ(f) - bohr chhatri
Banyan Canopy


The 'Banyan Canopy' gives tectonic dimension to the ad hoc banyan tree used in Punjabi villages as a place for formal meetings, performances and leisure. The Canopy stands as an allegory for the banyan tree as a wooden, hexagram lattice with a hanging garden which gives spatial definition for activity and provides shade for users. The Canopy takes the form of a pointed dome with its top cut off, and also sits on grade instead of capping a tower. Although mnemonic, these formal gestures remove semblance to authority, giving the space a communal sensibility.

View from Interior Balcony

Trope 3

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Partial Section
ਜਲ ਫਾਨੂਸ(m) - jal fanoos
Water Chandelier


The 'Water Chandelier' gives new meaning to the traditional step-well. It uses the geometric formation of the well and the reflective and refractive properties of water to give users the experience of luminary illusion. Instead of being used for spiritual bathing, it now functions as a leisure water pond on ground level, and a place for meditation below grade. In plan, this trope is composed as a four square pond, a water feature prevalent in many Punjabi formal landscapes. This synthesis pays homage to the chandelier hall at Quila Mubarak

View from Below Stepwell

Trope 4

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Isometric
ਵਿਹੜੇਆਂ ਵਿੱਚ ਵਿਹੜੇ(mpl) - vehriyaan vich vehre
Courtyards within Courtyards


This form combines the entrance arch with the porous courtyard to create a new definition for boundary. Though typically finding itself between brute, brick walls, in this new periphery, the threshold arch is multiplied, layered and staggered. This becomes a series of courtyards that allow for entry at multiple points, as well as activity within. The new form also allows for the density of the bazaar to trickle in by way of activity (juice stalls, pop up shops, roaming cows etc.)

View from Bazaar Street

Trope Assembly

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(Oblique) Site Plan

The newly derived forms are combined in an assembly of potential with similar scale and site conditions to the fort to propose a new monumental space for users. For the purpose of this thesis exploration, the new assembly of form imagines the site of the Quila as invisible in order to relieve the burden of its physical weight, while being able to explore a new network of form and space.

Hybrid Drawing