Islands in Islands
The project investigates variations on the theme of island and archipelago organizations in architecture and their generative potential in urban design through the design of a new building for an Art Depot built with CLT construction on the campus of the Menil Foundation in Houston.
The building presents itself as a quiet, ordinary warehouse, completely covered in tar paper, an industrial material that talks about the frugality of the program while conveying body memories through its craft and implementation. The blank exterior facades are topped with a series of tilted planes acting as roof cornices that dialogue with the neighboring prewar bungalows of the Menil campus.
The Art Depot is internally structured by a 15’x15’ chainlink grid that organizes the warehouse in nonhierarchical rooms where the art is exposed, allowing for unexpected cross-relations and dialogues between the various pieces of artwork.
The grid, understood as a geometrical tool of control, is abruptly interrupted with a series of domestic rooms that act as islands and structurally support the building’s roof. Built with CLT, these rooms accomodate those programs that require specific temperature, sound and humidity conditions while bringing indirect light inside.
While recent research in design has generated a set of theoretical inquiries into the dissolution of borders and boundaries this trajectory is being countered by the opposite phenomenon of privatized, single-use programs. Rather than viewing such island monocultures as fissures within the inclusive mentality of globalization, the studio embraces these opportunities to promote connection through the demarcation of borders.