The natural environment connects all people on the Earth. For many, nature is spiritual; for others, it is a connection to what came before. As the environment becomes threatened worldwide, densifying campuses are beginning to realize the immense lack of green space and overall lack of value placed on the student experience and student health. A spiritual space introduces the interconnectivity modern campuses seek, while making students feel seen no matter their identity. In this context, green space becomes more than a space to occupy but a way to amplify and serve a spiritual center.
The University of Tennessee(UT) Agricultural Campus is separated from main campus by Knoxville’s third creek, creating a unique piece of campus encircled by water spanning out to cliff sides and mountains. Viewed as an archeological artifact, this pocket of land possess layered histories of value toward the environment. The agricultural college was one of the first colleges of UT, highlighting a tradition of agriculture in the region for centuries prior, one where the environment not only supplies us with life but with peaceful beauty. This site was also chosen as a final resting place for what is estimated to be the Hamilton indigenous tribe, whose burial mound dates to 640 A.D. Speaking to the erasure of identity and culture of indigenous people of the region, the university has not always made efforts to preserve the mound, and since the 1980’s a 800 foot long parking lot encroaches just 50 feet from the prehistoric mound which now has a small park dedicated to it.
This project proposes a reclaiming of the parking lot to restore it to a public greenspace home to an energetic spiritual center. The architectural landscape ties people through heightened awareness of the natural resources of this region through a structural expression of local wind, water, and sun patterns. The landscape preserves existing circulation while the remaining earth falls away, forming soft craters holding programmatic spaces. Views of the mound from the public entrance of the UT Botanical gardens are reinforced through earthen paths and the framing of woven steel spaces. The structure takes on a complex dialogue of a small cityscape, with normative spaces adapting piered trapezoidal forms to engage southern orientation and allow the ground to remain landscape, and the spiritual space functioning as a sundial enclosed in glass with rammed earth floors and seating that rests upon the ground. Inspired by the earthen mound, the height of spaces is dependent on sacredness, with most sacred touching the earth and most mundane being lifted farthest from it. Roof systems collect and channel water into dry creek beds, while the structure filters sun and expresses wind through a vertical truss and cable system.
The proposal is in part a steward of the landscape, inviting sustainable strategies and the use of plants in service, and on the other hand a spiritual collector of rain, sun, and wind. Steel provides an extremely lightweight delicacy and woven rhythm incomparable to any other structural material.
THE STEEL COLLECTOR: RECLAIMING LANDSCAPES ON THE UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE AGRICULTURAL CAMPUS
The agricultural college was one of the first colleges to be introduced to the University of Tennessee, highlighting the value placed on agriculture in the East Tennessee region that spans centuries prior. A river and creek enfold a site that was once fields used by the college of Agriculture, and before– and still intact– a burial mound estimated to have been created in 640 A.D. by the Hamilton indigenous tribe.
Today, a large parking lot spans the heart of this site between public Botanical gardens on the Southeast side and a park dedicated to the burial mound on the Northwest side. This project proposes a reclaiming of the parking lot for use as a spiritual center: one that celebrates the natural resources of this region through a slow undulating landscape and a structure that connects all people through awareness of the natural environment. The proposal is in part a steward of the landscape, inviting sustainable strategies and a growing of plants in service of those in need, and on the other hand a spiritual listener who is a collector of rain, sun, and wind.
DISSECTING THE STRUCTURE: HARNESSING ENVIRONMENTAL RESOURCES
STEWARDSHIP AND THE LANDSCAPE: KITCHEN AND PANTRY
THE KITCHEN AND PANTRY, LIKE THE SPIRITUAL SPACE, REST UPON THE EARTH. THE KITCHEN BECOMES A STEWARD OF THE LANDSCAPE, GROWING PLANTS FOR CHARITY AND STUDENT USE.
A. CANOPIES: WATER COLLECTION
TENSILE MEMBRANES AND LIGHT GAUGE STEEL GUTTER OVER SPACE TRUSS DIRECT WATER INTO DRY CREEK BEDS AND SUPPLY LANDSCAPE ORGANISMS.
B. FORM: SUNLIGHT COLLECTION
TRAPEZOIDAL SPACES ARE ORIENTED TO COLLECT SOUTHERN LIGHT. SPIDER CABLE SYSTEM CURTAIN WALLS WRAP AROUND SOUTHERN FACADES THAT ARE SHADED BY ROOF MEMBRANES AND INTERIOR SHADES OR SHELVING INTEGRATED WITH SPIDER CABLE SYSTEM. SPACES ARE WRAPPED IN DECKING ON THE SOUTH SIDE, ELONGATING OCCUPIED SOLAR ZONES WITH A STRUCTURAL LIGHTNESS REMINISCENT OF THE REGIONAL VERNACULAR SCREENED PORCH.
C. STRUCTURE: WIND EXPRESSION
VERTICAL TRUSSES REPRESENTING ABSTRACTED LOCAL WIND VECTORS ARE SECURED BY CABLES ALLOW FOR LIGHTWEIGHT STRUCTURAL SYSTEM.
FOG LINE 50’ OR BELOW
AVERAGE ANNUAL RAINFALL 54”
SITE 837’ ABOVE SEA LEVEL
TENNESSEE RIVER FLOODLINE 830’ ABOVE SEA LEVEL
TENNESSEE RIVER RECORD HIGH 819’ ABOVE SEA LEVEL
HAMILTON BURIAL MOUND 12’ HIGH: SACRED SPATIAL CONTEXT AND STRUCTURAL HEIGHT DIVIDEND
TERRIFORMED CRATERS 6’ DEEP AT LOWEST POINT: IMMERSION OF THE USER IN THE LANDSCAPE
SPIRITUAL GATHERING PLACE AND KITCHEN REST ON THE GROUND 6’ BELOW THE BASE OF THE MOUND: EARTH AS SACRED
FELLOWSHIP, MEDITATION, PUBLIC GATHERING AND LOBBY 6’ ABOVE GROUND AND PARALLEL TO NORMATIVE PLANE
CLASSROOMS AND OFFICES 12’ ABOVE THE GROUND: RECESSED FROM SACRED
50’ SPAN: SPAR CABLE BUTTERLY ROOF OVER SPIRITUAL SPACE
100’ SPAN: SPACE TRUSS OVER MULTIPURPOSE SPACE
THE SPIRITUAL GATHERING PLACE: CENTERPOINT OF SITE PHENOMENA
SOLAR AXIS: CANTILEVER SPAR CABLE, 50’ SPAN
WOVEN CABLES SECURE TRUSSES AND FORM GLASS FACADE SPIDER SYSTEM
EXTERIOR SHADOW PROJECTION
RAMMED EARTH FLOOR, STAGE, AND SEATING FRAME MOUND
VERTICAL TRUSS: INTERIOR TIMEKEEPER
POOL FOR RAINWATER COLLECTION
THE STRUCTURE FUNCTIONS AS A SUNDIAL, WITH VERTICAL TRUSSES DISPLAYING TIME RELATIVE TO A PUNCTURE ALONG THE ROOF SPINE. SUNLIGHT ON ALL FACADES IS NECESSARY TO TELL TIME. MITIGATING SOLAR HEAT GAIN AND GLARE REQUIRES SHADING DEVICES AND SPECIFIC GLAZING OPTIONS. THE OVERHEAD CANOPY AND INTERIOR SHADES COINCIDE WITH THE STEEL CABLE STRUCTURAL SYSTEM , AND HAVE BEEN OPTIMIZED TO BLOCK SUMMER SUN AND ADMIT WINTER SUN ON THE SOUTH FACADE. SIMILARLY, LIGHTING WAS INVESTIGATED ON NORMATIVE PROGRAMMATIC SPACES AND TENSILE ROOF MEMBRANES WERE RESIZED TO ADMIT WINTER RAYS AND BLOCK SUMMER RAYS.
STRATIFIED LANDSCAPES: STRUCTURAL ECOSYSTEM
RECESSION OF NORMATIVE SPACE: PIERED FLOOR SYSTEM
WATER COLLECTOR: TENSILE MEMBRANE AND STEEL GUTTER
SUNLIGHT COLLECTOR: SPIDER CABLE GLASS FACADE SYSTEM