Experiments in Tessellation: Airport Terminal

Experiments in Tessellation: The Airport TerminalAirport terminals are essentially \’sheds\’- large volumes of space, with long spans and no major subdivisions, to cater for the flows of people and goods that they enclose. The \”shed\” could be regarded as an \’abstract machine\’, a versatile idea that has accommodated functions as wide a range as train stations, to museums. Though a variety of structural solutions have been developed for the shed, producing a variety of forms, the shed has remained a modular system of growth, catering for repetitive organizations. The fourth generation of airport terminals are currently producing larger sheds than ever before. China alone will be building 48 new large airports in the next 5 years. These airport terminals are a continuous building site as they continue to expand to cater for larger aircrafts. Constant changes and expansion to the shed is therefore adding an unprecedented level of complexity to the shed. Meanwhile, the airport terminal is required to act as a \’landmark\’, making the expression of the shed as an equally important function of the shed. The new super-sized airport shed needs to be infinitely flexible and exceedingly unique. Unlike the simple repetition of modules in conventional sheds, the studio will explore tessellation as a part-whole system that allows for complex repetition through an aggregation of diverse parts. The complexity of this repetition is a function of the degree of correspondence inbuilt into the part-to-whole relationship. The studio will produce generative base units for the airport terminal that interrelate several components through a specific and common criteria – a plane of correspondence. This involves infusing the base unit with a particular mode of subjectivity that will, in parallel to the system of growth, breed unique traits of expression and affective qualities. Tessellation can involve variation as a consistent expressive trait to its base unit so that it generates variety and uniqueness as a consistent character of their system.We will test this at Shenzhen Bao\’an International Airport in China which plans to build a new terminal in two phases. The semester will involve analyzing recent airport terminals as well as different large-span shed typologies that maybe applicable to the airport terminal. The studio will develop base units with specific protogeometries that can direct the growth of the supershed. Primary organizational material – such as structure, circulation, natural lighting and facade systems- will be set in correspondence to produce novel configurations that can grow in a number of different ways in time. Though not a requirement, those students with knowledge of parametric modeling such as CATIA are encouraged to apply.