Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Cossack : From Ghost town to Rapid Response Logistics Centre

Tuesday, 13 October 2015
" I love a sunburnt country, a land of sweeping plains, Of ragged mountain ranges, of droughts and flooding rains. I love her far horizons, I love her jewel-sea, Her beauty and her terror - the wide brown land for me! "   -  'My Country' by Dorothea McKellar (1904)

This peom demonstrates Australia's acceptance to  natural disaster and how dealing with disaster is integrated with the lands' "natural character". This is probably the reason Graduates of Architecture are taught to analyse the context first, then began designing. I fondly remember doing site analysis on a macro scale first analysing the region before honing it into the micro scale of the site. This process helped inform my design decisions. This way, the building's "whole of life" cost would be more efficient in responding to the needs of the region as well as the site. This would result in the added bonus of the building  becoming an investment for the occupant.

Macro scale  : Deciding on the region for the intervention.
Created by  The Contemporary Dragon Slayer (TCDS) on Indesign

With the increase in both man made and natural disasters over last few years, rapid response to disaster is becoming increasingly common. For my final year project we were put in groups and given a brief to respond to disaster. We wanted to create a "hub" in Australia that could respond to disaster and create a community for displaced people.First we researched the different states and concluded that the West Australia would be most suited for  this intervention because of its strategic location to the rest of Asia.We narrowed it down to the Pilbara and Gascoyne regions. Here, our research took us to the ghost town of Cossack. We thought rehabilitating a ghost  town would be perfect for a rapid response logistics centre as it also had the basis amenities and merely needed a nudge in the right direction.Thus we narrowed the site to have  a primary and secondary aim.

The primary aim of  was to rehabilitate the site. The secondary aim was to enable the facilities within Cossack to respond to disasters particularly within Asia.We choose a site further down Cossack Road near  the salt marsh and  away from the  Master planning intervention by Palassis Architects (http://www.palassis.com.au/project/cossack-master-planning). As we believed that their analysis would enhance the Rapid Response Logistics Centre (RRLC) that we were designing.

Created by TCDS on Photoshop and AutoCAD

Programme of the Rapid Response Logistics Centre (RRLC). 
2.Processing centre
3.Admin and assessment centre
4.Temporary shelters
5.Staff housing and Leisure centre.
I was assigned with the design and planning of the Staff Housing and Leisure centre, which I coined the 26th Parallel. In this post, I will attempt to take you through my design thought process , the relationship between the 26th parallel and the RRLC and  the operation of the RRLC  on a whole. I look forward to hearing your feedback in the comments below.

My design process

Created by TCDS with Hand drawings and Photoshop
My research lead me to identify three crucial elements about Cossack that I wanted to incorporate into my design. The first element  was the layout of the former Cossack settlement. It was arranged in a narrow spine or peninsula elevated above the surrounding mangroves and salt marshes. This was also observed in the jetty at Point Samson (see image below) which was not affected by the f.Thus I concluded that this construction method of the proposed permanent accommodation would be most suitable in withstanding flood levels. The second element was that Cossack is defined more by its landscape elements - land form,geology, vegetation and views - rather than its built form. Finally the third element was the sense of poignant drama that the historic buildings in the city centre created.
Create by TCDS with hand drawings and Photoshop

Permanent housing 

To gain inspiration, I studied the formation of a pearl. A pearl is formed by mantle injuries that lead to the formation of a pearl sae by displaced external mantle cells. This seemed appropriate for the site as Cossack had a reputation as a pearling industry. The  mechanism  used for the formation of a pearl resolved the complexity and security requirements of the proposed housing development which in turn resulted in the creation of pragmatic essential artefact.

In terms of materiality, the housing development was to incorporate adaptive camouflage  so as to blend in with the surroundings. In order to find the best possible solution, I  went through a series of exercises  to determine how the modules in the accommodations should be arranged.
Created by TCDS with hand drawings and photoshop

The core components of my staff housing include modular accommodation, leisure centre, parking and landscaping. The purpose of my design was to create an  flood "proof" climate - controlled environment in the dessert that could sustain itself. This was to be done by circulating and discharging air via a stack such as a borehole. The housing was to have solar mounted panels to generate electricity.It was to have stormwater management and be able to capture rainwater for non potable uses such as laundry and irrigation. In terms of ecology, I wanted to created a habitat to rehabilitate the coast.This habitat should be able to feed the residence of the of the permanent accommodation.

Created by TCDS
Created by TCDS with hand drawings and photoshop

Created by TCDS on Sketchup and Photoshop
 The design was to be a spine of modules staggered to  minimise the exposed walls on the eastern and western fa├žades. In order to maximize the use of the sun, it would be best to orientate the units in an east - west  orientation. This would provide shelter for the units on the floor below and minimise the area of exposed wall. A composite screening to an external breeze way would allows air movement around the house to minimize hot air pooling whilst shading from the southern summer sun angles. 

Created by TCDS on Sketchup
The Leisure Centre

When designing the leisure centre, I identified the facilities that the people in the permanent residence would need. These were then grouped into various activity pearls for  the design of the leisure centre.The most important design aspect to take into consideration was that the area was prone to flooding. The design response to this was to raise the leisure centre above ground level. Another important design aspect was that all the facilities were  located around the amphitheatre and were easily accessible from any point.It was to also be easily accessible to both the temporary and permanent residences.

Created by TCDS on Photoshop and AutoCAD

That concludes my final year project. I would like to hear what you think of the feasibility of this project or any other comments you may have in the comments section below. 

Till next time :)
Keep your head up.Keep your faith.

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