option studio: the dovetail, a universal building in london

This studio, part of a semester abroad asked us to consider what it means to design a universal building at Canada Water, London. If the structure of a building is the first to go up, and last to be torn down, how can it be designed to adapt to continuous adaptation of use and program within? The project was designed in defined chapters to ensure an iterative process.
Envisioned as one large room, the structure allows the building to be subdivided into smaller parts as various user groups move in and out. If floor to ceiling heights are some of the greatest barriers to change of use in a building, this proposal’s alternating single and double-height spaces enable a variety of programs to adapt to the building.
Activation of the facade and public space is critical as this building is positioned on the corner of a large development site, so single height space is shifted to the corner, and a tension structure was added to free the corner. The back corner is open to allow light and air to the whole floor plate, and ensure the circulation systems can evolve over time. It also creates a semi-public space for the surrounding buildings.
The structure creates large public spaces but can also be transformed over time to adapt to use within, and in neighboring buildings. The thickened floor slabs in the final version highlight the double height sandwiches, and reduce solar heat gain while celebrating the structure. Although it is an irregular building, it is both universal and specific, efficient but memorable.
An external limit was that all of the deliverables had to fit inside a wedding box to enable transport back to Harvard.