Some people think that architecture is free expression – fun, zany, creative. The reality is both more prosaic and challenging. Architecture exists within many constraints, planning, financial, practical, engineering, environmental and cultural + many others.

As the project develops, like coal miners we head into the darkness of the ground, into the earth – a wrestle ensues with underground parking grids, vehicle ramps, escape stairs, ventilation strategies, structural transfers. Efficiency is demanded, tolerances are tight – the basement is like a chassis for the whole future building – it sets up a tension between the future apartment layouts, the iconic and symbolic car and the forces of gravity – this interaction can be either smooth and simple or tortuous and compromised- the simplest structure might mean a column right through your bed, dining table or shower, the optimum apartment layout might mean thick concrete beams transferring loads to irregular shaped columns – constricting ceiling heights and forcing convoluted paths for drainage.

A balance is sought, a simplicity where the constraints are accommodated without apparent compromise, where the diagram is simple and logical – the project is navigating this realm at present, we are testing ideas in tandem, below and above the ground – finding the potential and resolving this negotiation between pragmatism and spatial potential. This is the most important moment – striking the right balance, from which the design above ground can begin to evolve with clarity and strength – hopefully – soon, we will come up out of the ground blinded by the bright sun and start to imagine the future building as more than simple forms supported on slender pillars.

Posted by Nathan G Judd, Nathan Gibson Judd Architect