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ADS5: The Universal Campus

Lara Vuković Bryan

Lara is an architectural designer based in London. Her interests lie in the overlap between design and architecture. During her time at the RCA, Lara’s work centred around exploring social and spatial characteristics of the everyday, particularly the design of domestic environments. Her graduate project at the RCA explored longevity and resilience, and considered what it means for a design to truly endure through time, and the subsequent spatial, material and social implications of this.

Prior to the RCA, Lara completed her undergraduate degree at the Welsh School of Architecture. Following this, she worked on a number of cultural and residential projects at Pricegore. 

The project considers what it means for a building to last 1000 years. Persisting through form, materiality and culture, the building serves as a public persona within ADS5’s campus. Once it has outlived its initial function, it is retained and perpetually reappropriated over time. The project follows the building from its first inhabitation through to post occupancy, 1000 years on: documenting how it ages, malfunctions and how it’s used and adapted by its various inhabitants over the course of a millennia.

A bar with a view to the kitchens — As you meander through the poche, large openings reveal bright kitchens and inner workings of the institute.
Pre-Occupancy, Ground Floor Plan
Teaching kitchen — With services and storage in the poche, this structure is allowed to be clean, simple and as efficient as possible. The spaces in this structure, are contrastingly open and public - visible to passers in the campus or users of other buildings look in to.
The bakery & cafe — Within the poche, low lit winding spaces open out into larger rooms. The room’s gentle curves and sculpted ceilings are dim and intimate, as though they have been carved out, accentuating the mass of the stone structure.
+50yrs — In the upper half of the building is the residential programme. This is an example of how the floor plan might be used by a singular dwelling
+50yrs — Some of the spaces are awkward and tight, as though the programme is trying to squeeze itself in. In the kitchen the elements are movable, allowing users to arrange it in a way that is most convenient for their needs, or for the space.
+50yrs — The inhabitants utilise both structures for their dwellings, the boundaries between the two begin to blur as they open out into each other. The removal of the the intermediate glazing enables the user to step through into the other half.
+50yrs — In the upper stories, the structural columns are inset by a meter, creating a winter garden space which the living space opens out into.
+50yrs — The external facade of the winter garden opens, creating a semi-external living space.

Overtime the whole building has become residential in order to cater to mass migration which was triggered by the climate crisis. This inturn led to higher density living environs. The building is now communal living, with a flat on each floor. The living spaces are crammed & inhabitants try to make the most of the space.

The massive structure has sunk 1mm per year. Additional padstones have been added to accommodate the lean to steel structure and inhabitants make use of materials to make the transitions easier.

Alterations to steel structure
Alterations to facade of the massive structure

By the time 400 yrs have passed the climate in London is similar to contemporary Morocco, dry arid in the summer while experiencing extremely wet weather changes in the winter. 

Like the Japanese temple the lightweight structure is more temporal in its construction, designed to be adapted in ways that better suit the inhabitants. By now the inhabitants have made this space semi external, large shutters have replaced the curtain walling, and the rooms are filled with lush sub-tropical species.

The loss of internal spaces has resulted in an unprecedented extension to the front facade. Its orientation to the north-west is much more conducive to a comfortable living climate, protected by the campus's square and protected from the midday-sun in the warm season. Copying the style of the steel structure, a timber structure is erected in the same style at the front facade, large holes are made in the stone structure to accommodate the new access that is required.


Another 400 years on, the structure is left desolate - for reasons undetermined. It is likely that it has simply fallen out of use, or potentially there is no one to use it. Post occupancy, the eroding stone structure stands strong, polished steps and crumbling plaster awaiting its next occupation, and nature begins to creep in from the sub-tropical gardens.

Design Concept Development — [1] Lewerentz's Resurrection Chapel [2] Sketch of column & Wall at Resurrection Chapel [3] Design Concept Sketch [4] Design Concept Model
— Left, Aerial view + elevation of Ise Jingu Shine over time Right, Plan of Diocletian's Palace + plan of contemporary Old Town Split
— Left, Plan of the campus Right, Approach to building through campus main square

Using the Atlas as its starting point, the design explores the concept of duality through materiality, structure and programme.

Prompted by Lewerentz’s Resurrection Chapel, I explored the idea of a collection of objects that have differentiating languages. More specifically, a duality through two structural opposites; a massive structure and a lightweight structure. The intention being to create two wholly different spatial experiences within the same design.

1000 year old structures that are still in use today can be united by two common factors - the first being materiality and cultural value. Resilience through materiality and cultural value can be seen globally. In Japan, the Ise Jingu Shrine is between 1-2 thousand years old. While its materials are not durable, it has been preserved due to ritual. Over the course of a millenia it has been torn down and rebuilt every 20 years, now approximately 65 times. While the beliefs that begun the ritual may fade, it will continue to be rebuilt for the foreseeable future due to the cultural value that this ritual has given it.

The city of Split in Croatia, grew within the walls of Diocletian's palace. The palace’s form was given new uses and new meanings by its inhabitants over time. Through its broad adaptability to multiple functions, the palace became a locus within the city. 

The project is situated in the south of the campus, a fictional site we have been developing as an ads - set within the political, climatic and social context of London. My project serves as a public persona within the campus: the design has a presence and civic value, such that once it has outlived its initial building function, it is retained and reappropriated. The building is timeless and will be perpetually re-purposed over the course of a millennia, like Diocletian’s palace in Split.

— 1:20 Detail Section
— Animation, Pre-Occupancy
— Staggered section + programme diagram for the first occupation

In a typical floor plan, the lightweight structure sits adjacent to the massive one. Within the solid structure a long poche-like sequence guides you through the length of the building, the sequence is disorientating but see-through moments, and openings provide glimpses through to the other structure along the way, helping you find your bearings.

The heavyweight structure is a massive stone construction, with in-situ concrete ceilings/ floors. The interior surface of which is hammered. With each stone block being 600mm the structure is durable and thermally self regulating. The steel and CLT structure is loads into it, resting on concrete pad-stones. While the stone structure is designed with durability and permanence in mind, the steel structure is more temporal, and is designed to facilitate future transformations of the building