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Combining an eye-catching aesthetic and distinctive functionality, the mixed-use Art Stable addresses the needs of art lovers and the environment
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Exterior with red walls.

Never mind the wall space to hang it, how will we even get it in the room? This forlorn cry of the art lover with big eyes and a small apartment may be a thing of the past with an award-winning, inner-city structure setting an exciting precedent.

Art Stable is a seven-storey, mixed-use building that includes ground-level retail space, first-floor parking and five stacked residential units designed to cater to owners who are artists, art dealers or gallery owners. Created by Olson Kundig Architects, with Tom Kundig as design principal, the urban infill project is built on the site of a horse stable which perhaps was the inspiration for its most distinctive feature.

"The building has active elevations at the front and back," says Kundig. "On the street side, large hinged windows open to provide natural ventilation through the units. On the alley-facing side, to the rear, five giant steel-clad operable doors cover nearly a third of the facade."

These doors allow residents to move artworks into or out of the building with ease. They are operated by an innovative system that references a device traditionally used in warehouses handling oversized goods.

"The mechanism involves opening the large 2.4m x 3.6m doors by hand, via the operation of a crank wheel. Working in conjunction with the owners, builders and engineers, we designed a 24.5m-high hinge that supports the vertically stacked doors and terminates with a rotating rooftop crane," says Kundig.


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Floor plan.

The custom hinge design means owners can open their access door up to 75° by turning the hand wheel. This connects to a threaded rod which goes through the building envelope and connects to a sliding pivot bolt fastened to the movable portions of the hinge on the exterior.

"These larger openings allow you to open the building to the natural world and to the larger cultural landscape," says the architect. "How often you open and close the building doesn't matter. For most people, it's the promise that you can do it that's more important."

While Art Stable's front and rear elevations are mainly in glass, the exposed side elevation is in oxidised mild steel, creating a visual material link to the surrounding transitional neighbourhood.

On the inside, Kundig and the developer elected to keep the apartment-meets-gallery as raw space with the idea that buyers will customise them to their own tastes. The building is zoned for mixed commercial and residential use so the options are flexible for owners. Besides the operable facades that bring the architecture alive, the building is also a paragon of solid design that, in the words of the architect himself, is intended to last over 100 years.

"Art Stable is built largely in concrete with a no-nonsense, unfussy structure appropriate to the setting the floating mild steel wall will also patina overtime, adding to the building's street appeal and urban vocabulary," says Kundig.

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White bed with art on walls and portrait of man.

The building responds to the wider environment as well with a raft of sustainable features. As with the hinge and crank wheel system, Kundig has brought innovation to this area of the design.

"A geothermal heat pump system runs in loops through the structural pilings of the foundation. While sharing geothermal cores like this has been done in buildings in Europe, this is an early use of the technology in the United States," he says.

Other green features include in-floor radiant heating and cooling, cross ventilation, and provision for the future use of photovoltaic technology.

Kundig says that Art Stable follows the principle of prospect and refuge. This stems from our primeval urge for a secure backing say a cave wall and at the same time, the prospect of open ground, such as a meadow, where we can see potential food or foes approaching.

"Art Stable's ability to open to the skies on two sides while providing a secure inner core addresses a deep need for survival, not aesthetics."

Jun 30, 2012

Credit list

Architect
Olson Kundig Architects, design principal, Tom Kundig FAIA; managing principal, Kirsten R Murra AIA; project manager, construction documents and CCA, Kevin Kudo-King AIA LEED AP; project manager, schematic design through design development Jim Friesz AIA LEED AP; project architect Jeff Ocampo LEED AP
Engineering consultants/hinge
Turner Exhibits, Inc
Structural engineer
DCI Engineers
Energy consultant
Patrick Hayes
Acoustics
BRC Acoustics & Technology Consulting
Foundation drilling
Kulchin Foundation Drilling Company
Cladding
Mild steel panels, perforated steel panels
Windows
Solarban 70 from All New Glass
Roof
Concrete with sheet metal, weathered steel rails
Developer
Point32
Civil engineering
Coughlin Porter Lundeen
Mechanical engineering
PAE Consulting Engineers
Envelope
RDH Group
Geotechnical consultant
ZZA-Terracon
General contractors
Exxel Pacific Construction
Structural system
Exposed concrete
Curtain wall
Vistawall, aluminium, by All New Glass
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