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Interior Futures

Dara Khakpour

Growing up between Tehran and Vancouver, Dara has developed a portfolio of work across visual communications, sound design, architectural design and now focusing on the interior. Throughout recent years, Dara's work has focused on questioning the correlation between the sensory and our environments, and how this relationship can inform the type of spaces we shape as designers.

His recent work, as part of the Interior Futures platform, focuses on exploring this relationship through a human-centric lens with the aim of transforming a mono purpose building into a community building that enhances the daily lives of its inhabitants by nature.

Dara's ambition as a designer is to continue to design spatial experiences and interventions in a multi-disciplinary setting, which place emphasis on the human condition while creating a better sense of well-being.

Degree Details

School of Architecture

Interior Futures

9 million of us in the UK are lonely. How can we shape places that tackle loneliness in our cities?

to answer this question it is critical to understand the principles of connection and how they can inform the type of spaces we shape to address social isolation in our daily environments. The places we create must place value on recognising diversity and establishing a sense of agency, while allowing us to show up as ourselves and be human.

"Not For Us, But For All" aims at re-programming the current Camden Council HQ in London into a building that encourages connection, collaboration, and offers a heightened sense of belonging. Through our platform's dialogue with Camden Council and by identifying their needs as a community, it proposes at creating a more porous building that is better connected with its local proximity. Resulting in a community building that offers a variety of spaces for inhabitants to interact, while enabling them to express their individual identities.

My thesis project proposes to achieve this through introducing 4 interventions that act as "influencers" spreading a community-based culture throughout the pre-existing program of the building. Transforming it over time into a more inclusive building that fosters connections while allowing occupants and visitors to feel a sense of ownership towards the site. Creating a new experience of urban community by combining individualism with urban density.


LONELINESS IN THE UK AND HOW WE CAN CHANGE IT — We as a community that extends to our branches of government, universities and civil societies must recognise that loneliness and social isolation is a problem, and accordingly rethink our cities so that they are more inclusive to all of us.
PRINCIPLES OF CONNECTION — By designing spaces that offer a sense of agency and recognise our diversity, we can foster stronger ties and relationships that can lead to more longlasting connections; resulting in a heightened sense of belonging.
SOCIETAL ENGAGEMENT — How far can our building's community extend? A diagram showing the possibilities of societal engagement extending beyond our building's current and future occupants.
A WORKPLACE THAT TACKLES LONELINESS — What should the design strategy for shaping future workplaces that aim at tackling loneliness look like?
DESIGN DECISIONS FOR URBAN FLOURISHING — Our best design decisions for urban flourishing are evidence informed decisions.
CAMDEN COUNCIL WORKSHOP SESSIONS — Highlighting some of the key outcomes of our conversations with Camden Council employees based throughout their HQ and other satellite locations. The shared needs and desires played a critical role in informing the development of my brief.

Many of the pre-existing office building's in high density urban environments are made for a singular use and functionality. I initiated my research questioning whether we can re-program these spaces so that they encourage "interaction", ''collaboration", and offer a heightened sense of "community". Becoming spaces that enhance our daily lives by nature and that we enjoy spending time in.

This question led me to explore some the existing data collected by initiatives such as "Loneliness Lab" and "Workplace Unlimited". My aim was to better understand some of the design decisions that can be taken to create more connection and interaction between people in workplaces, while enabling this sense of connection to be extended outwards towards their local communities.

Throughout this process and our workshop session's with Loneliness Lab and Camden Council it became extensively evident that people long for a workplace that: a) recognises their diversity b) brings them closer to nature c) allows them to be human and d) grants them an opportunity to show their identity and have a sense of ownership towards their spaces.

Medium:

Research Document

Size:

46 Pages
SITE — Diagram showing the site's location and its relationship to its immediate proximity.
BUILDING AND PROXIMITY — The pre-existing building's features, facilities and local proximity.
ADAPTING THE PRE-EXISTING — A new porous building program that aims at nudging the pre-existing towards the indicated needs of its inhabitants and extended communities.
INCREASING VISIBLE CONNECTION — Increasing the possibilities of visible connection by transforming the massing of the building.
MORE INTERSECTION — Introducing a new building program that encourages occupants and visitors to cross through each others sections more often.
GREEN PROGRAM — The green program aims at connecting the building to its extended communities, offering a range of experiences to visitors on their journey to and from the building.
INVESTIGATING GREEN CONNECTIONS — A series of drawings testing and questioning the possibilities of the green program connecting the site further to its immediate local proximity.
NEW FACADE BOUNDARY — Early diagrams exploring the new facade boundary shaped by the green program intersecting the building's openable peripheries. Introducing a new shell structure that replaces the previous cladded facade, creating a new habitat for the green program.

Introducing the site and its location in the Argent's St. Pancras Masterplan. Highlighting some of its pre-exisiting features and its relationship with its surrounding communities.

A series of diagrams and visual drawings explaining the process behind shaping the design strategy aimed at transforming the current building into a more porous and inclusive community building.

COLLAGE — Early visual drawing questioning and exploring ways the proposed green program can connect with the building's new porous facade.

An openable facade that creates new access points to improve the fluidity of movement throughout the building.

INFLUENCERS — The position of the four interventions in relation to each other throughout the building.
SECTION — Drawing showing the four interventions spread throughout the different parts of the building, resulting in a new facade boundary. Reducing the air handling of the building by introducing openable facades and removing the atrium roof, while keeping the height of the building in line with argents's massing regulations for this masterplan.

Four interventions with the aim of "influencing" the brief's culture into the pre-existing building.

HIGHLINE — The journey on the Highline from the building to the adjacent natural park, and further on to regents canal. The Highline offers user-defined activity spaces like portioned potters for people to grow their own greenery on their journey to and from the building.
HIGHLINE SECTION (L) - FACADE DETAIL (R) — Section highlighting the structure of the Highline. Visual drawing showing intimate spaces in facade granting access to natural light and fresh air.
POROUS FACADE — The new shell structure creates fluidity of movement between different floors. Introducing a variety of in-between spaces that offer a chance for inhabitants to take a moment of pause away from their daily environment, and have new opportunities to interact with each other.
FACADE BOUNDRY — Threshold between the existing building and the new facade structure. The pre-exiting raised access floors can be re-purposed to house the green program and provide irrigation for it.
ROOFTOP CANTEEN — Canteen structure and materiality informed by pre-existing structural walls and columns. The different elevations create new possibilities for visible connection and enjoying the building's views.
CAMDEN GROWERS CLUB — Urban growing program introduced on roof for families and senior members of community. Inflated ETFE pillows form a lightweight membrane providing coverage throughout areas of the roof program. Allowing the roof to be more accessible throughout the year, while maintaining breathability for the air handling of the building. The pillows can easily be removed or added, making the membrane’s exposure programable to suit the building community’s defined usage of the roof.
CANTEEN WINDOW — Produce harvested from the growing program can be shared with others through an access window in the Canteen.

A series of three interventions grouped into one, wrapping themselves around the building's peripheries. The three interventions are:

A) HIGHLINE: A green bridge that connects the building to its local proximity, while offering in-between spaces for interaction and user defined activities.

B) POROUS FACADE: A new shell structure replaces the previous cladded facade providing new access points while offering new opportunities for interaction.

C) CAMDEN GROWERS CLUB & ROOFTOP CANTEEN: An urban growing program tailored for families and seniors is introduced on the roof, creating an outdoor green experience that can provide produce that can be shared with the rest of the building's community through the roof canteen and beyond.

CAMDEN LIGHT POND — This program is an artificially lit space that offers a moment of pause away from the work environment. Offering two seating areas, one above water level and one below, which create opportunities to connect with others in a more intimate setting. The green program here aims to reference the removed King's Cross Pond Club that was previously located on this site before the masterplan's development.
VISIBLE THRESHOLD — While the two water programs are separate, a threshold positioned between the two maintains a visible connection. By placing a gap between the two water programs, it is possible to keep the waters separate, while maintaining an almost seem-less connectivity between them. I wanted to maintain the swimming program as an amenity due to the lack of public indoor swimming pools in this area.
CAMDEN LIGHT POOL — The naturally lit swimming program with visible connection to the highline.

The second Intervention transforms the previous singular swimming program into two water programs each offering distinct experiences in the basement level.

COMMUNITY MAKE & REPAIR — Visual showing fluidity of movement from the Highline to the Community Make & Repair space. Spaces of congregation throughout the journey are positioned to encourage collaboration and interaction outside of the work environment.
GF UPPER PLAN — Plan showing intervention positioned at core of the atrium, creating a point of intersect between the pre-existing lobby and the first series of interventions.

This intervention acts as the intersection between all other interventions, establishing itself as a place of congregation where people can come together and collaborate on site, achieving their individual and communal needs.

PLANTPLAY I — This intervention creates a corridor between the first and second floors of the building, providing an opportunity to have a tangible connection with plants on your journey throughout the building.
PLANTPLAY II — A view of the second floor of the intervention.
SECTION — Section showing movement between two floors. Detail visual drawing highlighting the experience felt through touch.
MEDIA — Video demonstrating the sonic experience created through interacting with plants using Playtronica hardware.

The final intervention is one that is quite close to me because it brings a bit of my past into this project. I wanted to create an activity space for play that brought people together while offering an escape.

A place where people can interact with each other while also interacting with the buildings new inhabitants, the plants. This interaction is felt through a sonic experience that is triggered through touch with the plants. Resulting in an electromagnet circuit which triggers a distinct ambient sound within the space.

ANIMATION — A porous building that encourages individual freedom and expression evolving overtime to create a new experience of urban community.