U2 studio assignment Fall 2009 Pieter Sijpkes Section.


From gravity to buoyancy.

Look at the bottom of this page for the assignment due for the
Wednesday October 7 studio work review

some new images, and the assignment at the end below!
At this point don't worry too much about whether the location is the Peel basin or the Old Port basin.

                                Capsule Tower, Tokyo,                               Habitat '67, Montreal,
by Kisho Kurokawa  (1972)                        by Moishe Safdie (1967)

Plug-In  "Boyant City" Montreal's Old Port
Ouline of First Project below. 


Kisho Kurokawa's Nakagin Capsule Tower in Tokyo is being threatened with demolition.  Built in 1972, it is the most famous example of the Metabolist movement in Japan. The building consists
of 140 prefabricated modules (or "capsules") which are each self-contained units (furnished with a  bed and plumbing and electronic fixtures). Each capsule measures 2.3 m (8 ft) × 3.8 m (12 ft) × 2.1 m (7 ft) and functions as a small living or office space. The capules are attached by only four high strength bolts  to two  freestanding concrete stair and elevator  towers. The idea at the time was that the individual capsules could be inserted and removed at will for maintenance or for complete removal and upgrading. These possibilities were never exercised , and due to degradation of the towers and due to the possibilities of higher density use of the site demolition and complete replacement is now on the horizon.

The capsule apartment is in a few ways similar to Moishe Safdie’s Habitat 67 in Montreal. Here 158 apartments were also created in several hundred prefabricated concrete boxes that were partly finished before being lifted in place. But the crucial structural difference with the Nagakin Capsule Tower is that in the Habitat structure the boxes rest on top of each other. The impression of standardization and ‘uniformity’ of the boxes is thus wrong-uniformity is only true in the external dimensions and form of the boxes. But the bottom boxes  are radically different from the top ones because they have much more reinforcement in them than the top boxes because of the heavy loads they have to carry. This arrangement rules out the easy insertion of new boxes or extraction of individual boxes for repair or replacement.

Montreal is not Tokyo, and the Habitat units are much roomier than the Capsule apartment’s units, and even though the capsule towers feature some apartments made up of more than one unit, the majority of Habitat’s apartments occupy several interlinked boxes.

The idea of prefabrication, popular since WWII, and was tried out by many  was driven by the belief that, like in the car and airplane industry, assembly-line techniques would lead to high quality, economically priced apartments affordable to all.

In fact, Habitat was built as a demonstration project of affordable housing for Expo’67. However, the cost of the project skyrocketed, and the owners of Habitat apartments these days are the wealthy; in several cases they were wealthy enough to acquire neighbouring units and combine them into many-roomed super units.

One good thing about the wealth of the Habitat owners is that they can afford to scrupulously maintain the complex.  The stresses and strains that the boxes at various levels are subject to, in addition to the large surface of the boxes exposed to the elements, have led to many cracks in the boxes; these cracks are monitored on an almost daily schedule and are repaired religiously. Corrosion of the reinforcement could be catastrophic.


Before his death two years ago Kisho Kirowaka pleaded with the owners of the capsule hotel to sell it back to him. He offered them a return on their money, and hoped to do what was planned from the start: remove the (“worn out”) capsules and replace them with new, upgraded ones.  

As he pointed out, this would be a vastly more economical, much less disruptive and environmentally friendly process than the demolition and replacement route that is being envisaged. Of course, it would also validate the original far-sightedness of the design.


In our U2 studio project we are going to design a neo-metabolist structure, that will not be bedevilled by the difficulty of removing units for change or repair like the Capsule apartments, nor by the extremely high cost of ongoing surveillance and maintenance of Habitat ’67.
Visions of pre-fabrication:  Le Corbusier's hand,                         "Celestial Real Estate Corporation"            

We are going to work on a floating, horizontal “tilted high rise” building that will consist of floating units that can easily be inserted and extracted by simply floating the unit in or out of its mooring place.

Instead of the gravity- controlled process of stacking, we will work on the buoyancy- controlled process of floating.


Sketch proposal IJburg Holland              towing of a  housing project
Interesting link: http://www.floatingstructures.com/

             Peel Basin


              Lachine Canal and basins

First assignment outline; due Wednesday afternoon Sept 16 @1.30

from: http://www.ecoboot.nl/artikelen/WeblogTiesFloatingCommunities.html.php

"My Philippino friend’s uncle, a TV journalist, and aunt, an environmental lawyer, both work in Manila. They quite know what’s going on many of the 7000 islands of the archipelago and told us there is a floating village in the heart of Mindoro, the southern main island, on the swamp lake of the Agusan Marsh. Internet research then lead us to Mr. Bobby Timonera, who made the following keen statement after his visit to the wetlands: "while city dwellers have been used to anything mobile, from cell phones to notebook computers to PDA’s, they are not quite ready for the ultimate mobile machine: the floating home.."

Ten Design parameters for floating home project

1. Your  design shall accommodate a group of students when Universities are in session (between six and eight was proposed.. but other numbers are  possible if you so decide.) In summer the units may be used as a youth or elder hostel.

2. Your ' student habitation' shall float on a concrete 'barge' that shall measure 24' by 40', and that shall emerge 1' from the water after the dwelling has been constructed.

3. The floating dwelling shall be anchored to a floating walkway that shall be 8' feet wide and shall emerge 1' from the water ( and thus be flush with the top of the floating foundation)

4. This floating walkway shall be connected to 'terra firma'  via a hinged bridge, as we will see on our site visit this afternoon.

5. Your floating dwelling may be anchored to the walkway with the long side (40') or the short side (24') facing the walkway.

6. The maximum height of your dwelling shall be three stories above the concrete float
7.The concrete flotation structure shall be 7'6 deep, measured from the upper edge of the concrete to the finished floor. A basement may be constructed in this space.

8 The superstructure shall be as light as possible. Wood frame, light steel frame or panel systems come to mind.

9. The building enveloppe may cantilver 6' beyond the edge of the concrete float.

  10. Consider the unique opportunity to give rooms and balconies and decks 'long views' over the canal and the basin. Keep in mind the neighbours blocking views.

We will review your preliminary designs, in the form of sketches and a physical (cardboard or foamcore) model to the scale of 1/4"=1'-0", next Wednesday afternoon starting at 1.30 PM in the fifth floor drawing studio.

keep the floor level!
Tuesday September 29 announcement
Everybody in the group has, at this point, an overall concept of their 'student living community', at the small 'living unit' scale and the larger neighbourhood community scale.

For the next review on Wednesday afternoon October 7 13.30 5th Floor Crit room you are asked to present:

* a site plan where you show the neighbourhood scale with the connections from the shore to the individual units.
* plan(s) of the 'living unit'  showing furniture.
  Make sure that  your plans are efficient!
Compare your plans with the plans of built and published student housing, and compare the unit size, the amount of communal space and 'left over space' in the example design and your design.
* two cross sections through the unit from below the bottom to above the roof
* as many views of your unit in its setting among other units in perspective indicating texture and colour
*a 3D Model
You have the choice of working in hard copy or in digital media or in both.
If you work in hard copy work make the drawings to a scale of 1:50 or 1:100

After this excercise we will spend time on the design of the construction details and the choice of materials of our designs, followed by a final presentation and review.