Fluid Motions School – Cal Poly – Jie Liang

One of today’s most controversial and iconic architects of today, Frank Gehry, is constantly pushing for architecture in motion.  Can a physical building give the notion of movement or do we, as the designers/architects, like to think that architecture can have a mental impact on the user?  Jie Liang from Cal Poly pushes fluid motions through the design of this school, through the use of materials, spacing, and the juxtaposition of organizational program.  However he mentions the notions of “speed” and “fluid dynamics”, are they notions or can this actually be felt in today’s architecture?

SCHOOL: Cal Poly
Jie Liang
PROFESSOR: Thomas Fowler
COURSE: Third Year

The design concept of this “fluid dynamics” elementary school is to capture and express different speeds in all aspects of the architecture. “Speed” is the key component of “fluid dynamics.” The building is shown by its layering which each layer suggests different motion. Steel is a very flexible material which can easily create an undulating freeform structure and a rigidity structure. These two types of forms suggest the fast motion and the slow motion.

Rigidity of the major steel structure suggests slow motion. People will perceive the slow motion by walking through the atrium and library. On the other hand, freeform façade is offering people a feeling of fast motion. The double layer skin depicts the concept of speed Each steel panel with special pattern put together to formed a fluid dynamic rain screen system. For the inner skin, insulated glass curtain wall will be installed to provide day lighting. In the middle open space, light and ventilation is penetrated into the building from the roof. The roof is supported by steel truss cross from one side of the classroom to the other side. On the roof, each translucent double glass panel has a different angle with steel mullion support to create an undulating shape, and some panels are operable for fresh air coming into the building.

The programs are organized by different learning speeds and movement based upon different activities. For example, people circulation, atrium, playground, café, and gymnasium are considered fast motions which will be placed in the same layer. On the other hand, the slow motion is library, offices, administration, and conference room. Classrooms are categorized base on its different learning speeds and interaction. For instant, classrooms used for arts, crafts, and music performances will be grouped together and put them under the freeform structure layer.

 All programs will be grouped. The library is located on the first floor between the two main circulations at the middle of the building. On top of the library is an interior green garden which serve as a relax place for students and connecting from two sides of classrooms. Along the green space, there is a basketball court surround by a café and food court on the second floor. Students and parents are able to see the basketball court from there.

All text and images via Jie Liang

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