[FAQ] Frequently Asked Questions
A number of questions and concerns were raised at the community meeting and in the days that followed. A great design outcome is achieved through a collaborative process, so thank you for all of your feedback!
Here is a list of the most commonly asked questions and concerns raised by the community, and some answers as to how the students responded to these in their design revisions.
Q1: Can sunlight enter the structure during the winter months to allow for enjoyment throughout the year?
A1: To accommodate the desire to have sunlight enter the gathering space during the winter months, the two gestures making up the design were flipped so that the higher element (originally intended for sun shading) would provide for wind protection on the south, while the lower element on the north side would allow for adequate sunlight to enter into the heart of the gathering space.
Q2: How will you protect against the cold winds, especially those coming from the south-west, that blow through the site throughout the year? And how will you ensure the structure stands up to the strong winds?
A2: By placing the taller of the two gestures on the south-west side of the site, the predominant winds from this direction can be mitigated, even blocked, to ensure a comfortable interior gathering space.
A high density of perforations in the upper portions of the panels making up the taller element have been introduced to reduce wind loads on the structure, but decrease in density downwards along the lengths of the panels to provide for a protected seating and gathering area.
Post members and plywood sheeting panels have been sized to wind load specifications and structural stability, as was determined through consultation with community members adept at building and construction.
Q3: What about the fire pit? Is it safe for the community?
A3: Although several community members expressed excitement about the fire pit, there were also some members that had reservations about including it in the design due to fire safety concerns. We understand both perspectives clearly, and are working towards a solution that meets everyone’s expectations.
As a defining feature of the design, the fire pit will be included in the final outcome. However, several measures for fire safety have been included in the design to mitigate fire risk. The fire will be contained in a double-ring, steel fire surround, which is placed on a non-combustible landscape surface treatment such as sand or dolomite, which extends throughout the gathering space. The two gestures, and predominantly the one placed on the south side of the site, will help to protect the gathering space from wind and should act to minimize the risk of flying sparks.
Additionally, through conversation with some of the community members, it was also suggested that a community group could be organized to be in charge of the management and use of the fire pit, to ensure safe enjoyment of the space and to ensure the safety of the community
Q4: How will you deal with sun shading throughout the summer months?
A4: A temporary sun shading device is still being investigated, and could be integrated into the final product time and budget permitting. In the meeting with the neighbourhood group, sun shading was not determined to be of the highest priority over other considerations, and so its incorporation into the design has not yet been finalized.
Also, as based on our site analysis, there are several species of vegetation on the site which are estimated to grow tall enough to provide some natural sun shading over time, which may also be considered suitable sun shading element in the design.
Q5: What is an appropriate height for the structure?
A5: Some concerns were raised about the tall height of one of the elements in regards to structural stability and visual impact on the landscape. These considerations have been worked into the design, and have resulted in a design that achieves both visual refinement and structural stability.
The design has been adjusted to taper down significantly from one 2.4m high point, instead of an entire panel, to provide a visually-pleasing contour to the gathering space, but which does not compromise a comfortable height for sitting and standing in the structure for everyone.
A high density of perforations have also been introduced into the panels, which provide for visual transparency and lightness on the landscape, but which also provides for structural functionality as it helps to reduce some of the wind loads on the structure.
Q6: What type of seating is most appropriate for the gathering space? Fixed, flexible, or both?
A6: From the comments generated in the discussion with the neighbourhood group, it was determined that a combination of fixed and flexible seating elements was the most appropriate solution for the gathering space. Fixed benches have been designed into the space, with room below to store moveable stools. This option was selected as it offered alternative seating options with adequate flexibility, whilst also generating enough seating for larger groups gathering in the space.
Q7: What is meant by ‘community authorship’ of the project?
A7: During the concept presentation, it was suggested that the community could have a greater sense of authorship over the project by deciding on the words to be inscribed into the ground landscaping elements.
Although this idea is still being explored and will hopefully make its way into the final design outcome, time and budget considerations may mean that this part of the project is left to be carried out by the community at a later date. However, the idea remains the same, in the sense that the community can decide together how to author the space in a meaningful and expressive manner.