Assignment 5 | Systems & Freitag

This semester in studio we have been working on creating a cultural workshop for a Swiss retailer named Freitag. Founded by Markus and Daniel Freitag in 1993, their goal was creating a messenger bag that would be heavy duty, stylish, and waterproof. This was achieved by creating the bags out of old truck tarpaulins, seat belts, and  bicycle inner tubes, revealing their emphasis on recycling. In designing a new North American Freitag workshop in New York City, this philosophy of re-use and sustainability has been incorporated through the use of several passive systems.


The site for my workshop is located adjacent to the High Line Park on 19th Street and near 10th Avenue. The diagram above illustrates the path of the sun on the site. It is evident that the grid of New York City is not perfectly north-south but is instead oriented northwest-southwest. This means that virtually all of the buildings on this grid technically never receive true direct southern light, but it is important that the building receives some amount of southern light during the winter for the sake of heating.

In the case of wind, the major prevailing wind comes from the Hudson River in the west all year round. During the spring, this wind is supplemented by major winds from the northwest and northeast; during the summer, from the northeast and southwest; during the autumn, from the northeast; and during the winter, from the northwest. The wind diagram above illustrates the predominant winds throughout the entire year which are from the west and the northeast. It would be useful in utilizing the west and northeast winds during the summer in order to provide ample circulation of air and ventilation.


The sectional diagram above illustrates the moves made in response to the conditions of the site. Unlike almost all of the surrounding buildings, one part of my design breaks from the bounds of the New York grid and orients itself directly north-south in order to take advantage of sunlight in the public spaces of the theater and the exhibition space and the private spaces of the apartments. The sheer face of the facade blocks any direct exposure to the harsh summer sun. As for the apartment at top, the hallway has a retractable screen that prevents it from becoming like a greenhouse. However, during the winter, all of the spaces are directly exposed to the warm, radiant winter sunlight in order to provide natural heating and to brighten up a drab winter day.

Wind is allowed to enter the building in order to provide natural ventilation. Through operable windows on the west and north facades, the major prevailing winds mentioned earlier are allowed to enter during the summer. Warm air is channeled through the spaces towards the south, where they are expelled by vents and operable windows. In addition, the cave-like space of the lobby is able to maintain a certain temperature throughout the year due to the thermal massing of the building.


Taking a closer look at one of the spaces in my workshop, the theater presents a challenge of dealing with light that enters the space, especially during the winter. Performance spaces such as these require low levels of light so that spectators are not distracted or blinded. The left half of the diagram illustrates all sources of light during the winter and summer solstices. Summer sunlight is very minimal, whereas winter sunlight reaches all the way to the seating area. It reflects off of the polished concrete of the floor and begins to provide an indirect means of lighting through the ceiling further back in the space. When a performance occurs, artificial light is used in order to provide manual control.

The right half of the diagram shows the same section but in greater detail. Two double pane windows on the facade create a solar chimney that draws warm air out from the theater. As a result of the chimney being glass, the effect of stack ventilation is enhanced because more heat enters it and pulls out more warm air from the theater through vents near the ceiling. The concrete floor also helps heat the space during the winter because, as an insulator, it retains the heat of the winter sun throughout the day. However, all natural light can be blocked out during performances with a stage curtain if needed.


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