The project is the design of a communal respite facility and a restaurant within the grounds of Raycap, an international electrical equipment company. Being apart of a larger industrial complex, it is located in Drama region of northern Greece an area renowned for its varying topography and captivating landscape.
The site is an interstitial residual space left unbuilt during the company’s development phases and is surrounded by administrative and production facilities. Since the building phase completion it has been planted with trees and over the course of the years has been transformed into a park. Throughout the year, the park hosts many events such as fests, gatherings and musical performances. During the more temperate seasons it is the unofficial meeting place of the employees who use it for short brakes, lunch and discussion.
The building is conceived at the intersection of three pathways through the park. These routes were not initially planned. They rather emerged through the daily circulation of the users who favor the park as a place of gathering. People go there to have their lunch and socialize especially during the most temperate seasons. We saw these paths as daily and seasonal rhythms that outline a territory and lead to the emergence of dimensional markings on it. These trails are products of the refrain of the human activity. This idea brought to our mind the works from the ‘land art’ movement of the 60’s and 70’s and more specific Richard Long’s ephemeral sculpture, ‘A Line Made by Walking’ (1967).
Our aspiration was not to simply place a building on the landscape but to make it an active part of it. The scenery, the way the horizon meets the undulating topography become integral parts of the daily human ritual even a predisposition for this activity. Scenery is often perceived as infinite space but despite its vague elusiveness is not. It is a space whose perceptual limitation is defined by the relative scale and position of the viewer; it is the limit and the boundary of our own perceptual capacity. We wanted to create a feeling of protected personal space while keeping an uninterrupted view to the horizon. These thoughts directed us to stir away from a stereotypical structure and stir towards the creation of a device for viewing the landscape, a sort of frame to nature. The abstraction of the floating plane and its relationship with the landscape has a strong resonance with the territory. We envisaged the plane as a shimmering line leveling with the horizon, a thread that stretches out and changes in intensity and sharpness depending on the prevailing environmental conditions. The building’s large scale is established by mirroring the relative proportion of the site to the overall complex. In opposition the enveloped space has a smaller scale creating an atmosphere of intimacy. We saw the proposed architecture as a combination of form, ritual and territory reclaimed partially by nature to form a symbiotic organism.
Within the envelope, a territory of different rhythms is established. A sheltered park with an almost immaterial boundary, a crystalline skin, becomes the vessel of the facility’s daily rhythm. Here the programmatic functions are separated into the public covered plaza, the food preparation area and the utility service areas. The interior plaza acts as a continuation of the exterior with the boundary between the two almost diminished. The subtle reflections manifested with oscillating intensity on the underside of the roof reverberate and accentuate the exterior lighting conditions. The roof becomes an obscure live canvas reflecting and diffusing the passing atmospheres at all times. The food preparation area is covered with turf and live plants making the visitor to perceive as a mount and its volume completely reclaimed by the earth while the service areas are placed directly underneath it.
We wanted to establish a micro territory within the broader of the facility and create a micro landscape within the existing one that holds all the qualities and atmospheres of the place within a structure that acts both as a symbiotic vessel and viewing device proportioned to the individual experience.