Option Studio: Building an Urban Forest
Instructor: Christine Yogiaman
The Urban Aviary focuses on the avian population as an arbitrator to tackle the paradoxical nature of the Rail Corridor. Contrary to the vision of species connector and nature links between core habitats to proliferate biodiversity, the network of linear land parcels in its current form caters primarily to recreational human activities. Through the lens of the avian population, the project interweaves the urban and nature infrastructure to reconcile and mediate between these seemingly contradictory needs.
The first board analyses the Alexandra Woodlands as a site and its relationship with the avian population. Least cost mapping is an analytical method that considers the cost of traversing across areas in relation to birds.
The local population is split into 3 main categories of birds, woodland, nocturnal, and urban birds. Initial research has shown how light and sound pollution, alongside tall buildings with glass facades, can affect birds’ movement and traffic across green patches in search of resources and places to rest differently. Birds mostly travel from one core habitat to another, in this case the Botanic Gardens from northeast to the Southern Ridges, with the site in between these 2 core habitats. With the larger nodes representing areas of least cost, the top 10% of nodes are coloured and linked to analyse the least cost paths in this context. It is then evident how Alexandra Woodlands serves a crucial role in providing the least cost paths linking the 2 nearest core habitats for the local avian population.
As such, the current fragmentation on site by urban activities, and plan for future development, will increase the cost of travelling through Alexandra Woodland as birds divert their path to the seemingly higher cost surroundings. Thus, the analysis sets the context for the Urban Aviary to maintain or enhance the current ecosystem in Alexandra Woodland while adding recreational and commercial value to the area through weaving the 2 paradoxical environments into one megastructure.
The Alexandra Woodland consists of 2 main urban infrastructure: The Rail Corridor and Alexandra Hospital. Responding to this site context, and the ecological services birds and natures provides, the Urban Aviary seeks to develop the site with a mixed-use purpose of an Experiential Library and a Sensory Rehabilitation centre through the engagement of the 5 senses.
The third board analyses the relationship between the site and the intensity of each sense the specific area can provide to humans. The site consists of many specific and unique characteristics, nature, or bird activity, that contributes to heightening a certain sense. These parameters are thus analysed and agglomerated to sift out specific plots of land for program planning.
Our intervention starts by looking at the art of fabric weaving and its relation to architecture.
Weaving creates continuous surfaces that allow land to traverse over one another vertically which provides the opportunity to satisfy the needs of both urban and forest in the 3-dimensional space.
To set up the spatial planning for the Urban Avriary, the considerations for access, defragmentation, programs, and existing site conditions, were superimposed upon one another.
By overlaying the superimposed parameters on site, a triaxial weave is then applied as base and have its threads distorted to best fit the conditions.
After the distortion of grid, threads are then interweaved in the vertical space. Using the threads as reference, a framework emerges which can then be edited to fit and generate our desired architectural form.
The red colour used in the axonometric plan represents the weaving of nature using planters, and turquoise representing urban activity. The Urban Aviary aims to counteract the detrimental effects of these urban activities by interweaving the nature with urban as much as possible. The planters will elevate the biomes and provide more food, shelter, and nesting areas for the local avian population by expanding in the vertical space. From this plan, we can identify the programmes in plan and the connecting path between them. Each area serves as both an experiential library and sensory library designed around one or multiple sense. A commercial hub is planned nearer to the developed urban area and an overhead bridge connecting to the existing bus-stop across the AYE is proposed.
The sections seek to provide insights on the various interactions between threads and how the framework allow the provision of open and enclosed space, while interweaving nature with urban activity.
The entire infrastructure involves interweaving the nature, either over, under, or with the urban environment that would reduce the fragmentation caused by urban activity and elevate the Alexandra Woodlands to a core habitat for birds and humans.