The Role of the Atrium in Buildings

Topics: New York City, Urban design, Public space Pages: 6 (1842 words) Published: May 8, 2013
Master Architecture, Urbanism & Building Sciences
Delft University of Technology
AR3A160 Lecture Series Research Method
Dr.T.L.P. Avermaete

Position Paper
The role of the atrium in buildings
Qian LAN

The role of the atrium in buildings


The studio “Strategic Architectural Design Development” focuses on the contemporary social, political, economic and ecological problem of Manhattan, New York City. We try to design a new UN Environmental Council which can be an architectural icon of sustainability that will represent the necessity for sustainable environments. It will be positioned on the site of the UN headquarters in Manhattan, New York.

For me, the most important meaning of the UN Environmental Council is: The first, the icon of sustainability, which needs to have good climate control; The second, the political role, which requires architecture not only can divide and regulate behavior of the people in it, but also show the welcome and open to the public at the same time.

“What are the virtues of the atrium concept? The truth is that the atrium concept has wide-ranging advantages over conventional modern building forms.”[1] In this paper, I would like to research how the atrium affects on the building during its development, which I think will help me to design my graduation project in SADD. In my design, I relies on the atrium to solve the problems below: (a) How to divide and regulate behavior of the people, clear the people flows and share some good space with the public at the same time. (B) How to make contribution to the climate control system and maintain the comfort of public space so to rich the social life inside at the same time.

As a result, I came up my research topic:” The important role of the atrium in buildings”.

History of atrium

“The atrium is a very old idea. It has a 2000-year history as a grand entrance space, focal courtyard and sheltered semi-public area.”[2] And it usually can be seen in some Mediterranean and middle-eastern architectures in early time. It’s one of the most important concepts in these architectures. After the renovation of the technology, it was added a cover above by using iron and glass. It also had higher inside spaces when the elevator invented. During 20th century, the atrium became a generic building form which can be applied in a wide range of contexts.

Research the four main aspects of atrium

After talking about the history of atrium, I’d like to say why we use atrium, and how it can help me to solve my problem I met in my studio.

In order to explore this, I will research in four main aspects: a) urban design factor, which related to make my building have good relationship with the city and offer all the people a place to share public lives; b) Control, which focuses on divide and regulate behavior of the people inside; c) social movement inside, which help to enhance the communication between different departments; d) climate system design, which play a core role in the whole climate control system.

a) Urban design factor

As the starting point, we followed the research method we learn in our class. We first focus on the existing urban environments, tried to understand the transformation processes and the changes in building typologies.

Cause our site is in Manhattan New York, our group did a lot of investigates about this city in many different aspects. As we all known, as the most important city along the east coast of US, New York is fully influenced by the modern development, especially the Manhattan. It is a disaster for the characters of most western city. Towers go up in the sky, which try to be the landmarks in their context, while new buildings disregard street lines at the same time. Opening public space became less and less. Fortunately, the situation didn’t became worse after publishing a study from Cambridge University, which named...
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