Architecture and I
The Whisper Pavilion
architectural reflection and the power of detailing
Architecture is a constant and a variable at the same time; a matter which consistently stays in our everyday lives and we cannot live without it, in the meantime it being a demonstration of history and a flow of live.

One of our wonderful professors mentioned two days ago that architecture is an ever-changing matter. Encouraging students to come to architectural debates, Jacob Voorthuis in his New Year's speech said: 'with the developments of society and the crisis we are facing, the context changes; environment changes, and therefore our architecture and definition of cities changes'.

Architectural view alternates even faster while you are a student. It is a discovery on a daily basis, a personal formula you create to spread this architecture over the world. Suddenly I noticed that I got my own view on architecture and on human perception of it.

As I said, while being a student, this perception changes with a very high speed. That is why here I want to switch from analyzing the environment and write about what I do myself, because with every second of external analysis my inner view to architecture moves to a different point. With this post I can freeze the vision I had for architecture in October when completing the project for university, making it a checkpoint for my professional path. For the first time ever I realized that I could stand by every tiny detail and relate conceptual nuances to spatial and technological. Going so in-depth of the project was a new thing for me, and here I want to tell almost everything I can about this – at the first glance – tiny pavilion.

The text was adapted from the booklet created for university. The part of the text in blue is about construction aspects for conveniency, feel free to look through it.

During the first quartile we were to design the small pavilion on island Texel, which would have to be demountable after 7 years. This project was a new step for me: I tried to get in-depth of details and think about various aspects at the same time. I struggled a lot, I learned a lot, I developed. I wanted to achieve a well-reasoned, logical, comfortable, detailed and just aesthetically pleasing design. Here I want to depict the diversity of a design process and tell a complete story of what my building is about.

It is almost an architectural confession - I want to talk about the smallest parts of it together with the bigger image and share my love for Architecture with you. The pavilion needed to accommodate at least 20 visitors, contain the researcher's space and have the sheltered area with the view. The goal was achieved, and the pavilion has been created.

The Whisper Pavilion.

We are choosing silent seats in the train, aiming to study in the library to get silence and whenever we want to say anything we just need to whisper.

to whisper – to talk softly and privately, to utter with soft, low sounds.

In my design I strived to achieve the complicity and integration of the building, create a coherent story combined with sensual experience of architecture. I got inspired by Pether Zumthor's text of Thinking Architecture, describing the human perception of this physical experience and the response. One of the main concepts which I used was brought by his notion that 'architecture is the art of space and it is the art of time as well - between order and freedom, between following a path and discovering a path of our own'. This is what I used in my design: bringing concepts, circulation, materials, construction and building physics together, I let the visitor come in and get lost even in such a tiny pavilion.

The Site Plan.

Located on island Texel in the Netherlands, the pavilion is situated almost in the middle of nowhere. To get to the site, one needs to cycle for more than an hour to get to the opposite side of the island. Windy and humid but definitely serene, surrounded by the Nature Reserve Utopia and De Schorren, the Wadden Sea and placed along the dike, such a pavilion would become a wonderful pit-stop option for travellers and make them slow down and listen.

Building structure.

The structure is kept simple, at its bare essence - timber frame construction combined with curved glulam beam makes the design be easily assembled at the site. All the elements are prefabricated and the joints are organized with nails, for walls - the plywood boards. The extended volume is arranged with truss system which accounts for stability. The structure is visible from the inside, showing the honesty of the architecture – there is nothing to bide. It leads the visitors to open up by showing their essence, building this intimacy.

Curved geometry in the floorplan adds to the feeling of harmony and creates connection with the facade, accompanying it to become a part of depicted tranquillity.

Sections and elevations.

The gradual development of the space is represented by the staircase; the heart of the building. Varying in height and width of steps, it is not made to be a vertical transportation unit. First of all, it makes you stop and pay attention, bringing the feeling of mindfulness and presence in the moment.

Be aware of steps, stop on each one of them and look around – this is where the exhibition space comes from. Starting sharply, with a great courage they are almost dissipating – this is the whisper. The staircase makes you follow the speech of the place, and with every step it brings you to…silence.

Combination drawing. Combination drawings show the construction solution for the elements, the structural systems and building physics aspects. It focuses on the vertical section and bridges the transition between the scale of the building and the detailing.

The structure out of timber combined with the curtain wall system (periodically covered by plywood boards) creates a game of light and allows visitors to touch the structure, to feel it thoroughly. Insulated glazing keeps the cold and wind outside, keeping everyone warm. Roof is fitting the common ensemble and is organized with the plywood boards, too. The roof is insulated and with the use of waterproof coating.

In such a design concept floor should be light enough to be supported by the timber structure. This is achieved by the use of multiple joists at the distance of every 30 cm, allowing to span the floors without any risks.

Structural knot detail. One of the distinctive structural elements of the building is the structural knot. It is complex enough and brings together the timber columns, beams, glulam beam and the trusses.

It might be challenging to create the structure visible from the inside without losing its aesthetics, which might be easily ruined by all the steel connecting plates.

That is the reason for using the steel plates which will be hidden in the structure and will not disturb from the timber feeling itself.

As mentioned before, structural knots will be connected by the use of nails, to make the design demountable up to the smaller details, allowing them to be reused in other buildings.

Part of the combination drawing (without the plan here) to the left; and a structural know to the right.
Showing construction aspects of the pavilion.
Listen and watch, become a part of this soft matter, dissolve in all of it and…can you hear the sea calling? Calling us into the world.

Design process.
Design process is a sophisticated and iterative process; going back-and-forth at every step is an essential part of the progress. For this project it was more than that: in the mid-part of the project the initial idea was changed completely. While design process in architecture deserves a separate blog post, here I will attach pages from the booklet which describe what was this process for me with the pavilion.
This project, despite being a small pavilion, remains the symbol of a huge progress for me, determining a conscious approach to all decisions taken in architecture. Every detail is here to make the concept stronger, to support it in both spatial and construction ways. It taught me that detailing is an important implication of the concept, serving to its benefit and should never be left out.

Looking back it makes me wonder: what is it I see in architecture now and how will my perception change even in the next year? How is it affected by the enironment I am in, by my traveling experiences and architectural analysises I create? What is my own variable and what will stay constant throughout my projects?
There are no right answers for that, I can only observe it as a viewer of my own thoughts and corelate it with the state I was in at that moment.
And keep on going.

I hope you enjoyed this look into the life of an Architecture student and my view,
with love,
Made on