The Modular Platforms

Par Sills Sophie, 01/03/20

Once the first leaves fall, it’s time to step up to autumn. 

Once the thermometer hits the minus, it’s time to step up to winter.

Once birds start singing, it’s time to take a step down to spring.

Once you hear people jumping in the river, it’s time to take a step down to summer.

Four seasons. Four steps. A year: full cycle. Start again.

My first observation when going back for the second time to the Mangrove site was how different it looked from my first visit. A completely different place. In December the fog prevented us from seeing the other side of the river. In February the sun touched the skin of our sleepy faces and skimmed over the streaming turquoise blue river. The site changes completely from one season to another. It’s simple: A big tree. 4 seasons. 4 platforms.


Different views according to the weather conditions: what looks like two completely different places.

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Gordon Matta Clark, Office Baroque, Antwerp, 1973

Givens: a selection of reference images

What I take of it: the idea of layers and different heights.

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My storyboard... A starting point. 

2 words driving the project: seasons & platforms

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On the Mangrove site, what better spot than next to the imposing tree in the middle of the pathway.

The notion of seasons lead to making a composition of four platforms allowing a fluid transition between seasons: shaping them and positioning them one next to the other. Nevertheless, once the different mock ups placed in the protostructure, the shapes of the platforms continued to evolve through experimentation. They have to react to the constraints of not only other projects surrounding them but mostly having to face the obstacles of the protostructure. 

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Testing different positions between the platforms. Wooden model 1:10

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Investigating the assembly method through drawing. Plan & Elevation 1:20 

The main focus then becomes the connection between the protostructure and the four platforms. Reshaping and positioning them. The inspiration came from an existing structure not far from our studio space… l’Agora on the EPFL campus. The way the different levels are joined together gave a new assembly method to my platforms.

Nevertheless, I've been asking myself: is a physical connection essential for the different seasons to be connected?

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AGORA Lombard Odier, Place Cosandey EPFL, 2019
Details of junction between the different levels

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Axonométrie - details of junction 1:20

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Wooden model 1:10 

Investigation of details and junctions... how to make these platforms hold. Starting from a simple joint between two planes and extending that function into something bigger. It is modulable and can be adapted and replicated.

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2D Rhino drawing - junction with the protostructure (bottom) & connection between the platforms (top)

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The composition - 2D drawing on Rhino

Plan & sections in 1:20 - Situation on site in 1:100 - Constructive details: assembly (top left), with the protostructure (bottom left), connection between platforms (top right)

A space in which one can stand, sit down, lie down, talk, walk and move. As we can see, it is an open space, inviting not only one individual at a time but two, three or a group. It is a weaving between the different platforms and the protostructure creating a density. 

The specific junction allows a connection between the platforms, the protostructure and also gives an access to other projects. For instance, stepping from one platform into my neighbour Niels' project and coming back out of it on an other platform. This accentuates the idea of movement and circulation in the protostructure.

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Wooden model 1:10 & 3D model on Rhino

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 2D drawing on Rhino - The junction between the 2 projects


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2D drawing on Rhino - Section with projects around 

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Perspective from two different points of view

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2D drawings on Rhino. Perspectives from the 4 plateformes & details of jonctions

In order to create a dynamic flow between the platforms, it becomes essential to have a central point around which you move. This center is brought alive by leaving a free space. 

But then I ask myself: in what way can these platforms be extend? what does that add to the spatiality of the composition? 

The modular platforms: Platforms that are modulable and replicable. An open space. Weaving. Different levels. A place to rest and discuss, a place to be in the nature right by the city center.

Building on site

Linear meters of wood:

10 x 2.7 cm : 203m

6 x 2.7 cm : 81m

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2D drawings on Rhino

Pre-assembled pieces to bring on site in order to finalise assembly with the protostructure.

Review: how to make my project evolve?

It is essentiel to expand and not stay stuck in the dimensions of the protostructure. Working with the latter in a system of weaving has restrained my project. Nevertheless the proto is not a barrier. 

What is this space for? Do you move, sit, dance? How big should it be in order to greet a group of people? 

All of my experimenting and testing can go even further. What other tools can make you project yourself in this interior that you are creating?

Explore an even deeper connections with the surrounding: the tree for exemple. What does it bring to the space created? How does it influence it? How to work around or with it?