Somewhere between a mechanized organism and an architectural space, the project entitled “Dance Center: Cybernetic Assemblages” explores modes of articulating space using the vocabulary of cybernetics. The organic skin of the Dance Center rests on and conceals the mechanical “plug-ins” which anchor building to its surroundings. The ceremonial staircase connects the four dance spaces in the same manner as a prosthetic element, holding together parts of a human body. The project was designed by Nikita Troufanov, as part of the IIT’s spring architecture studio.
The organizational system of the Dance Center borrows the 10x11x15 grid of the directly adjacent ‘Transportation Building’ and expresses it on the east facade, lining up with the units of build of its neighbor. The massing of the building is determined by 2 goals: free up the ground plane and maximize sunlight exposure. Most of the mass is placed at the top of the building, touching the ground lightly at street level. The structural system is comprised of a series of expressed steel truss buttress columns that tie back through a series of horizontal trusses back to the 2 structural cores. The dance space volumes are framed with steel ribs that are tied into the horizontal trusses. The dance space volumes connect to the buttresses in a cyborg-like fashion through articulated sleeves. Exterior surfaces of the dance volumes are clad with flexible mats of small terra-cotta tile. This cladding system contributes to the haptic experience of the building and is an efficient way to clad complex curved surfaces. The ‘urban skin’ is patchwork of various materials and functions. When it covers the plaza it is made up of stone paving, grass patches and glass (skylights over the underground tribal dance studio). The perforated metal skin acts as a rain-screen and sun-screen to enhance the building’s thermal performance.