MetroSOLIS : An Urban Treehouse

Trees grow in response to their environment and have evolved to obtain light and photosynthesize at the greatest possible rate.  To do so they rise upwards in order to maximise sunlight consumption and avoid being overshadowed.

The courtyard in front of Manchester Museum’s main entrance is lifeless and overshadowed.  However, an opportunity has arisen to reprogramme and awaken the space, allowing it to evolve and become vibrant and metropolitan.

Through computational analysis, the movement of sunlight across the courtyard was mapped over a 122 day period [1st June 2010 to 31st September 2010]; the period in which the temporary structure will occupy the site.  Results were generated over four two-hour time periods each day, from 10am to 4pm.  The courtyard acted as a parameter providing a two dimensional projection of light and space, allowing for forms to be created based upon the movement of light and shade.  Studies were carried out to assess the amount of sunlight gained within these parameters at different levels.  As expected, direct sunlight progressively illuminated a greater proportion of the parameters until reaching the height of the surrounding buildings. 

Through further exploration, a sculptural form emerged.  Each of the 122 days was assigned a vertical height of 50mm.  From ground level upwards the shadow paths dictated the shape of each layer, from the first day of June at ground level, to the last day of September at the top [6.1m].

The emergent forms that were synthesized lend themselves particularly well to the movement of light throughout the course of the day, providing a temporal, 4Dimensional experience.

To enhance the quality of light within the space, materiality plays an important role.  Transparency and colour will be important factors in the selection of materials, with emphasis upon creating a lightweight, freestanding structure.  Furthermore, sustainability will be taken into consideration in an attempt to make the structure almost entirely recyclable.

Conceptually, this urban treehouse provokes curiosity and discussion whilst not conforming to a distinct function.  Whether it acts as a place of relaxation and reflection or as a potential picnic space, the primary motive is to draw people into the space.

MetroSOLIS is an intuitive design solution combining sophisticated mapping techniques with generative computational design, providing an intelligent, temporary solution.