• Dubai’s Amphitheatre & Camel Track: An Environmental Exuberance

    Thomas HOPKINS, "Dubai's Amphitheatre & Camel Track: An Environmental Exuberance." Model.

    The Bartlett, UCL
    Unit 20
    critics: Richard BECKETT, Marjan COLLETTI, & Marcos CRUZ.

    suckerPUNCH: Describe your project.

    Thomas HOPKINS: A multi-disciplinary sports complex & camel track located at the center of the old creek district of Dubai.

    The design accommodates all races tracks and sports facilities that are tailored for the populations demographics. . . .

    These playing fields and tracks are amalgamated and fused into a programmatic proposition readdressing conventional organization of sports facilities. The notions of thresholds between the internal and external are explored through a series of precision analogue/digital models which help understand the spatial dialogue happening between the two realms. Solar gain and complex geometry are very much a holistic themes within this project, helping to create interstitial spaces which help interconnect different playing fields and race tracks, by providing shelter from the extreme climatic conditions of Dubai.

    The extending of these thresholds is made possible by creating morphologies that are a response to the movement of the sun. Through sun studies an essential understanding of projected shadows help create the possibility of extending thermal comfort within and around the architectural proposition. The subsequent morphologies are then subjected to complex patternization inspired by Islamic designs of Mashrabiyas. With modern tools, we can start to analyze the efficiency of such historic simple and rudimentary systems. Architects are reinvestigating sustainable design, looking to learn more from vernacular architecture, and adapting these proven methods to the needs of our time.

    The Mashrabiya is an ornate shading screen, traditional in Arabic and Persian architecture. It is used primarily for privacy, offering views to street level whilst remaining unseen. As well as adding aesthetic value, environmentally the screens provide substantial protection from solar radiation, whilst allowing cool air to enter from street level. The designs of the ornamented latticework are composed with varying sizes of opening to help provide thermal control to internal spaces.

    Looking specifically at how environmental properties such as shading and solar gain reduc­tion affect thermal comfort, modern digital techniques are used to analyze and simulate the given properties of Mashrabiyas within Dubai. Environmental design software, digital scripting techniques and analogue models are used to help understand the limits and the potential for re-interpreting Mashrabiyas in a contemporary context.

    Novel geometries are used to enhance and optimise the organization of space and comfort within it leaving the boundaries between external and internal questioned. The varying patternization within the canopies, inspired from the composition of ancient Mashrabiyas, is optimized according to solar gain within specific time periods to achieve environmental thermal comfort through the use of non-deterministic and performance-based design. The typo-morphologies subsequently produced, optimized with novel geometries, help to create a new composition of space leading to a more homogenous integration of the building within its landscape. This subsequently opens up the possibilities for new and different designs, questioning the way we understand our built environment.

    sP: What or who influenced this project?
    TH: Topographic variations of sand-dunes, Mashrabiyas patternization, and solar gain.

    sP: What were you reading/listening to/watching while developing this project?
    TH: Reading: El croquis, on Enric Miralles; Naturaliser l’architecture 2014; Xefirotarch; Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged; and various AD. Litening to: Sammy Levy; Mickey Simpson; and Barry Brown.

    sP: Whose work is currently on your radar?
    TH: Saraben Studio; Morphosis; Kokkugia; Eragatory; marcosandmarjan; and Richard Beckett.

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