WEST TEXAS MONASTERY
This project explores the concept of creating a refuge in a place isolated from any form of external human influence. The location is set on west Texas, right in between Fort Davis and Alpine, Texas. The site is far enough from the cities to avoid any unwanted disturbances but close enough to allow travelers to visit and enable the monastery to receive any needed supplies.
Having to design in an environment like this comes with a set of challenges, for one. the exposure to the sun is always present. There is little to no vegetation, so the necessity to create active shading is a must. On top of that, the amount of rainfall that this area receives is minimal, meaning that cultivating plants could be a challenge.
Along with my classmate Niko Maestas, a design was developed for a building that captures moments along the site's creek. This Building serves a variety of functions, as it is designed to house 70+ permanent residents. These residents, along with occasional visitors, can enjoy the many features this building includes, such as: Classrooms, a library, indoor and outdoor hangout areas, a dining hall, and of course a dedicated church.
From early in the schematic design process, a decision was made to split up 2 main aspects of the building. The Religious from the non religious side.
This diagram shows how the Religious (blue) program is elevated from the ground to highlight its importance. On the other side, the other section of the building sits on top of the mountain, begining to grasp direction from the natural contours.
The Living, educational, Admin, etc. sit nicely into the mountainside. By placing the blocks perpendicular to the contours you begin to notice they point towards a centerpoint.
This new radial layout allows for easy circulation throughout the building. Ta new intersection is generated between the Religious block and the rest of the building.
Meeting points are generated in between the buildings. This allows for great hangout spaces that are in close proximity to the program spaces. What you get is plenty of opportunity to interact with other people and at the same time enjoy great views towards the outside.
The site is located near the intersection of Hwy 118 and Ranch Rd 1837. It is purposely situated far enough from the heavily trafficked road to avoid noise. From there, a series of dirt roads connect the building to Rd 1837.
The building placement takes advantage of the natural creek found at the bottom of the mountain, to collect any rain water.
The diagram below shows how the different program spaces interact with each other. Even though some elements of the building respond different to the site, the architecture enables them to seamlessly interact with one another.
All of the spaces were designed in such a way so that they would have access to natural light if needed. The slope of the mountain is a big guiding factor that shapes the building downward and while doing so, the interior spaces begin to want to come out. These spaces enjoy from both great views and great natural light.
Another major element in the building is its ability to ventilate its interior space. Foldable window systems are placed along the main circulation point. When the system is up, the chill winds from the south can come in and naturally flow through the building. This allows for users to comfortable enjoy the natural air without having to be exposed to the harsh sun.
The blue represents the spaces that can be sealed off. This allows for HVAC systems to cool the interior if desired