I had a critique last week which was a chance to get some feedback on my recent work. Prior to the critique I had been focussed on developing the large community centre building which also bridges the canal. I had mainly been working on a 1:100 sketch model of the building (photos of which I will post eventually), attempting to work out both how it might be constructed and the layout of its internal program. In previous models of the building it became clear that the roof would be a major element of the design. A large, expressive roof could unify the diverse program of the community centre as well as collect much-needed rainwater for use on the site and provide shade to the vicinity around the building. As one of the main elements of the community centre was to be a library then control and modulation of interior light would be very important so a well-designed roof structure could also help with this.
I then realized that the roof could also do much of the structural work needed in order for the building to bridge the canal and "float" above the existing site buildings. I developed a model where the the inhabited part of the community centre would hang from the roof structure. The roof was constructed using a Vierendeel grid system which would provide the strong structure necessary to hang the building aloft, many opportunities for light penetration, as well as the possibility of housing all services within the roof structure. I also thought that this system would allow for flexibility in the placement of structural columns and therefore flexibility in the space below.
In addition, a Vierendeel grid would allow for flexibility in the use of materials. A Vierendeel truss is not by nature a materially efficient structure but it can be constructed from almost any material and from standard components.
The images below show some of the first representations of the community centre building hanging from the roof structure.