Monday, April 4, 2011


The primary programmatic focus lies in the Training Facility. It is intended for two primary user groups. On the one hand the performers are trained, tested. and practice. They must begin to identify themselves as performers and pursue the ability to push the limits of the human body.
The other essential user group is that of Cirque’s community outreach policy. This space is meant to foster a sense of belonging, trust, and awareness of human potential. Just as equally to that of the performers the training facility is a welcoming venue that supports growth and confidence and intended to become a reference for a sense of personal identity. Therefore the training facility in actuality becomes the substrate on which activity and other program attach to. Other programs are secondary and reference to this open topology. This is the living room. They operate within it to take advantage of environmental conditions and programmatic qualities, and also to view and to be viewed.

The material impulse for the primary facade was that of fibre optics in the commonly found form of strands.
The performative properties of the fibre optic strands allow, during the day time, the various exterior wall conditions to be shaded due to its long shadow. This is a lesson learned from various cactus species found in the context of Las Vegas and is primarily beneficial for glazed conditions where interior settings require reduced solar gain. A further impetus to use fibre optics was for the purposes of providing diffuse light within these spaces. The primary training facility is a clear cut example of a space in which glare needs to be reduced to prevent interference with activities.
The properties of fibre optics allow for light from one end of the strand to be transferred to the other end with almost equivalent fidelity, at the same time not allowing the strand itself to emit light. The property of the fibre optic strands that allow for this is the cladding which possesses a lower index of refraction than the interior plastic material, therefore allowing transparency while removing the ability for the light bouncing within the tube to escape. Instead, it bounces all the way to the other end of the tube with high fidelity, no matter the contortion the strand finds itself under. Furthermore, the properties of this plastic accommodate for increased ultra violet resistance.

The strands were intended to be long and similar to the quality of a fur for the building. As it shades and creates diffuse light conditions, these strands would gently wave in the breeze and contribute to a transient and ethereal character to the disappearing structure. At the same time, air slowed down by these strands would provide insulative properties in front of the glazed wall conditions in order to mediate a temperature difference between the inside and out. Though this may not reflect the extreme of the gestures that Cirque Du Soeil performers exhibit, it speaks to the often silent and minute workings that allow for their spectacle to be accomplished.
In conditions where the wall is solid, the strands, instead of being relegated to the exterior of the building, penetrate to provide a point of intimacy with users. These elements contribute to a haptic quality of space wherein tourists and performers alike are drawn to its glow and wash their hands against, to remind themselves what surface is and can be. Is it flat? Is it smooth? Can it be an infinitesimal number of grains? Can it be a pixelation of protrusions?

In evening conditions, the building abides by the code of Las Vegas’ silent mandate; it becomes a beacon, a sign, a symbol: it glows. For the same reasons as its ability to provide diffuse light, the interior lighting conditions generate an outward glow. A new dimension is also introduced: the extremes in lighting conditions allow for silhouettes to appear on the exterior side of the building.

The apparatus that emerges to support this system is formed as a hexagrid that distorts itself within two dimensions to accommodate greater densities of strands where greater shading is required. These strands are located at the corners of each hexagon. This infrastructure is similarly composed of a translucent plastic which is tied back to the structural mullions through vertically oriented trusses. Each strand is further supported in its holster within the hexagon apparatus, and uses an adjustable sliding piece to further reinforce this relationship.

The adjustable piece is formed by the idea of the “universal connection”. With the hexagrid frame creating differentiated patterns and arrangements and dimensions, a design must emerge that is economical (therefore identical components) but flexible to these various conditions. The cog is designed to be tightened through a radial gap that allows for a variety of placements in such an orientation. The arms that hook to the cog are designed to lengthen and shorten relative to each other. The base allows
these to rotate in a direction perpendicular to the cog.

An artificial quality emerges from the duality of the plastics and their mechanical qualities and that of the geometry and properties of the hexagrid and strands.

To achieve the complex geometric relationships that emerged from the design intent, parametric software “grasshopper” was used in order to configure and reconfigure the components of the building’s facade. This allowed for optimization.

Outlined above was my proposal for the interim submission. Since then i've been able to reflect on the developments, and of course i'm not particularly pleased with the direction. The quality of the effect that is created by the envelope is... furry, and even so, not furry enough to be effective. Furthermore, apart for my distaste for this amorphous quality, this aspect isn't even the dominant visual property of the building as much as the hexagrid is, and i don't apreciate the hexagrid that much either. So, yeah, ultimate dilemma. Not to mention that everyone's first impression was that it is a ripoff of the English pavilion. Since the strands did not dominate as much as i had anticipated this sacrificed the shading proerpty that i was attempting to achieve. Perhaps there may be a more calculated means of achieving shading?

Some thoughts i have received is that the strands may be relegated to the depth between teh two skins in order to still provide the fibre optic effect while not needing to rely on the furriness that i was for some reason originally interested in.

In terms of the development of the building i am still struggling. It seems to be developing into this idea of blurring boundaries between programs, spaces, meeting spaces, circulation. I also have this vision that the performers can use any space to their development adn experimentation. The image that is in my head is that of these performers scaling the other program and harnessign those surfaces as a sort of infrastructure for their own design.
I need an ordering element to really develop my building. Maybe a structural system? I'm currently lookign at the requirements that the various acrobatic program would require. How can mat acrobatics, versus trampoline acrobatics, versus aerial acrobatics regulate the organization of my building?

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