Minifie van Schaik Architects
MvS Architects
Unnamed 12

Harbour Study and Corner Study
Orleans, France

These two studies explore a type of minimal space, one of zero mean curvature.

They investigate a class of surfaces where each element is of least area, held in an equipoise of tensions. The surfaces are evolved by continually subdividing a precursor, gravitating the gradients to their lowest energy configurations. Yet they retain their ability to develop, to link and extend continuously, establishing the extents of a field.

Here we are sampling these terrains, finding instances that may be interpreted as a kind of inhabitation in our realm. The familiar slab-block can be seen as the datum plane rotated horizontal to vertical, thickened and inhabited. Architects manage the limitations of this intention, determining length, height, thickness, the legibility of edges.

‘Harbour Study–Schoen’s unnamed 12’ proposes a similar kind of thickening, but is constrained by the threshold beyond which continual offsets collapse to a self-intersect

Each building is a different vesicular instance of the virtual unfolding of the surface. A sidedness is maintained, one side defined by the tracking of access and the perforations of structure, the other inhabited. An apartment is located in the 2space of the surface. Unlike the plane, not only does the location in 3space vary in all three coordinates, but so does the orientation of the normal. Each apartment composes the whole not as a tile or brick so much as a sequin or bristle.

‘Corner Study–pseudo batwing surface’ investigates another variant of this surface class. This surface enables the division of space into two continuous interlocking crystalline structures. Each is continuously traversable and discreet.

The building is a kind of aerated foam, expanding into the site. One of the partitioned spaces is inhabited and private. Here apartments are linked according to the diagonal. The other is public space enfolded into the building. It forms a continuous grotto interlaced with the inhabited spaces, a series of plateaus ascending through the structure.