Tower & Court II: Design Development

Typically an architectural project is divided into 4 phases: schematic design, design development, contract documents, and contract negotiation, with the occasional inclusion of pre-design services & post-occupancy review.  The last post in the Tower & Court series documented the schematic design phase of these two vacation homes.  This post deals with the design development phase.

Upon deciding on a schematic design to proceed with, the next step for the design team is to test their hypotheses.   As we add an increasing level of detail (a comprehensive structural system, materials, etc.), and make more drawings of the building, we inevitably encounter contradictions, tensions, and conflicts within the design that we had perhaps guessed were there, but  had not yet fully explored.  To be sure, we also occasionally encounter unexpected synchronicities between elements, and opportunities for delight that were not fully evident at the first stage of design.  One could think of the transition between schematic design and design development as a sort of focusing.  As more drawings are done, the relationships between the parts become clearer.

Parry Sound Courtyard Cottage

Having selected the ‘court’ scheme for the Parry Sound property, we started to think through some different options for the roof.

Perry Sound Sloped

Perry Sound Parapet
or should we have a play between parapets & open eaves?
Perry Sound Flat

Should it simply be flat?

These thoughts ‘in 3-dimensions’ were accompanied by thinking ‘in section’ about the different eave conditions that we could work with.

Perry Sound Eave Studies

Eave Options

Perry Sound Wall Types

Wall Type Studies

Simultaneous to this, we also continued to further define & develop the layout of the cottage.  The design development stage of the project, especially at the beginning of it, is a great opportunity to explore the various different possible permutations on a basic theme.  Ideally, at this point, every aspect of the design is worked over and tested.

Perry Sound Plan

Perry Sound floor plan during design development.

Frog Island Tower House

Meanwhile, at the Oliphant property, design development brought with it a focus on trying out and testing various different structural systems, including SIPs (structural insulated panels), CLTs (cross laminated timber), and even concrete block.

Why concrete block, you may wonder?  In bringing this project to the next level of development, we decided to face the fact that if a building is over 3 storeys tall it is required to either be constructed of non-combustible materials or be sprinklered, according to the building code.  For some time we considered making the argument that CLTs (solid, thick, composite wood panels) are essentially non-combustible, as studies have shown this to be true.  Unfortunately, the expense both of making this argument and of the actual panels themselves made this unfeasible.  Given that this property is pretty hard to access, concrete block walls were also a bit far-fetched.

Fortunately, it was actually the height that we were looking for in this design, not the number of storeys.  While the code wouldn’t allow us to go up 4 storeys, there is no rule against 3 storeys + a mezzanine, as long as the mezzanine is less than 40% of the square footage of a regular floor.  We managed to easily accommodate the lost floor area in the plan by expanding the footprint of the tower slightly.

Oliphant Mezz Study

We tried out a number of different permutations on the mezzanine idea.

Oliphant Study Model

A variation.

The officials at the municipality were also having some trouble with the height of the building, so to allay their fears we developed this sight diagram, to show that we would not inappropriately interfere with the privacy of the neighbours:

Oliphant Sight Diagram

Oliphant Tower House sight diagram.

As with the Parry Sound cottage, we used the design development phase to do a thorough study of the different possibilities available within the basic scheme we had decided upon.  Below are the plans and elevations of the cottage during this stage.

Oliphant Ground Flr

Oliphant House ground floor plan during design development


Oliphant Plans

Oliphant House floor plans during design development.

Oliphant Elevs

Oliphant House elevations during design development.


Posted by on 2014/05/08 in General

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