Design and Training Center
Published in 2A Magazine Issue #15&16 Autumn 2010 Winter 2011
Kelly Hutzell is a licensed architect and senior associate at over, under. In addition, Kelly is an Assistant Teaching Professor in the School of Architecture at Carnegie Mellon University. She holds joint appointments between Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Doha, Qatar, teaching urban design studios and seminars. Kelly received a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Roger Williams University and a Master of Science in Architecture and Urban Design degree from Columbia University. Her research focus on urban public space has been recently published in the book Al Manakh: Gulf Continued and includes the project 4D Doha, a website documenting the urban growth and transformation of Doha, Qatar.
over, under is a Boston-based multidisciplinary studio for architecture, urban design, interiors, graphic identity, and publications. The global backgrounds of the firm’s founders have shaped the international practice. Architecture and urban design projects include town centers and districts in the United Arab Emirates, design centers in Qatar and Egypt and residences in Egypt, Lebanon, Guatemala and the United States. The firm’s designs, research, and the exhibits of its pinkcomma gallery have been widely published.
Design and Training Center
The Design and Training Center located in Aswan, Egypt is an over,under project currently in schematic design. To date, over,under has completed feasibility studies, promotional material for authorities and funding agencies as well as basic concept design.
Located on an island just south of Aswan, Egypt, the Design and Training Center is envisioned as a place to gather designers from across the globe. The brainchild of prominent jewelry designer Azza Fahmy, the center allows designers to share ideas and the spectacular beauty of the site, while creating contemporary designs that are inspired by local traditions. Modest buildings, including a studio and housing, are proposed for the island, with an additional structure located on the mainland, serving as a training center.
The project also houses a library that holds a rich compilation of Nubian and Southern Egyptian art: architecture, costumes, jewelry, crafts, and valued traditions. It will thus serve as a research center archiving samples of current and older art, including beaded crafts, embroidery, straw crafts (using date palm leaves), wood carving, and needle work/crochet.
The architectural language of the project is inspired by the traditions of the local and regional buildings, places, and crafts, translated into a contemporary vocabulary. The design team has studied vernacular methods of controlling light and the climate, local building customs, site-specific materials, as well as the patterns, colors, and textures commonly used by the cultures surrounding Aswan.
The client and the design team are intent on creating a project that is truly of benefit to Egypt at the highest international standards. The fundamental working principle is that any development in the Nile must protect the special qualities of both the natural and cultural environment. This proposal reflects these goals by providing economic benefits to Aswan through new job creation and tourist revenue, cultural benefits by promoting Nubian and Southern Egyptian culture internationally, and environmental benefits by preserving and protecting the natural landscape and the local wildlife.
Traditional Nubian jewelry (above) inspires the designs of Azza Fahmy (right).
Like the goals of the Design & Training Center, the architectural language of this project will be inspired by the traditions of the local and regional buildings, places, andcrafts, translated into a contemporary vocabulary. The design team has studied vernacular methods of controlling light and the climate, local building customs, site-specificmaterials, as well as the patterns, colors, and textures commonly used by the cultures surrounding Aswan
Unique Site Characteristics
The project team sees the existing agricultural lands on the islands as being off-limits for any new structures.
The agricultural lands enhance vistas and
offer the chance for fresh produce to be
used in food prepared on the islands. This
land provides job opportunities for local
farmers, with the possibility of greater
profitability since the produce will be
used on site.
The traditional buildings in nearby villages use the existing Aswan granite boulders and outcroppings as integrated components. The design team sees an opportunity on both sites to engage the new structures with the powerful
forms of the rocks. Rooms or outdoor
spaces could be partially defined byoutcroppings, which will mask the buildings from external views.
Beauty of the setting
The Nile setting, flanking desert slopes, and island rockscapes make nearly every view from these islands into a memorable image.
Buildings must take advantage of views
while being carefully placed so that
they are nearly invisible from outside
each island. The proposal’s modest scale
preserves and enhances each island’s
Over the course of the year, water levels fluctuate up to four meters from a low in the winter to a high in the summer. This change in elevation significantly impacts the size of the islands and dictates areas where land can only be used seasonally.
The photos show water levels in March (top) and June for the same piece of land.
Envir onmental Factors
The natural elements require careful consideration given the team’s desire to be ecologically sensitive. Fast-moving water can support micro-turbines that harness energy.
Winds from the north can be used to cool spaces. Solar heat is desirable in the winter, while shading is necessary in warmer months. These ecological considerations will reduce the project’s energy consumption