Hotel Aurelia: precast tsunami shelter

The benefits of concrete can be applied in a variety of fashions, allowing for aesthetics and structure to seamlessly blend instead of leaving a clear distinction between the two. When approaching our design for Hotel Aurelia, the structural systems highlight the main aesthetic qualities of the building. The structural strategy is composed of three main systems: the exterior diagrid, three mega columns, and a ­supporting tension wire system that allows for longer spans and the dismissal of interior columns. These combined elements allow for a free plan, and a level of transparency desired for our coastline architecture.

The hotel program allows for the optimization of the necessary coastal location of each structure, and allows for modular units to be composed and implemented within the free plan. The modularity of the structure provides the ability to expand upon the constraints of the site; building higher and lower based on the needs of the local surroundings.  All of the main components of the building are precast and sized to fit on shipping trucks. The diagrid module allows for the expansion of floors in excrements of two stories. Rooms and features are to be prefabricated in glass and acrylic to provide a contrast to the concrete materiality of the building, but stay true to the modularity and prefabrication elements of the architecture. In this manner, the Hotel Aurelia can be transported and constructed at a number of locations, whether in need of a tsunami shelter or not.

The strength and density of concrete also makes it the ideal material to construct a building needed to withstand the force of a tsunami.  The bottom two floors use similar modules in a cross-bracing format that provides enough strength and rigidity to withhold impact loads and forces caused by a tsunami. The repetition of the modules allows for enough redundancy within the building to stand if some modules were to fail in the course of a tsunami. Consequently, the bottom two floors are left fairly open so water may flow through, while the third floor serves as a lobby and tsunami shelter when need. The lobby level can be appropriated based on the inundation level of the site.

This project was designed in a cross-disciplinary studio in collaboration with civil engineers. The studio’s focus was precast design in application to a tsunami shelter. The studio was funded by Coreslab Structures which awarded the A + E scholarship to our project’s first place selection. A article was published about the class on archinect at:

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