TGV can Stack Vent
BJM 02 - 05 - 2010

We took a bus out to the Avignon TGV train station in order to experience some modern architecture. Upon exiting the bus in front of the station I was immediately disappointed with what I saw. Les had described a strong relationship between the landscape and the stations form; this was not at all evident. This discovery led to a very thorough investigation of all the finer details the building had to offer. I was able to find many gems in it design, including a number of sustainable ones. And thankfully upon viewing the other side of the station all that Les had talked about was very clear. An impressive building both in grand form and fine detail. The station was composed mainly of one large space with a lofted floor on the side for accessing the train platform. At its highest, the central space was roughly fifty feet tall while tapering down towards either end. The entire south facing facade was composed of steel structure clad in an exterior fiberglass and an interior wood planking. The north facade was entirely glass, with some rather wonderful mullion design. The most intriguing aspect for me was my attempt to understand the buildings ventilation system. There appeared to be at least two systems at work. I was unable to fully understand the first system I discovered. I found an underfloor air plenum as a part of the loft's floor system. The plenum appeared to be acting as a supply element, though I'm not entirely convinced this was the case. Usually plenums work as a return air system; but I felt a small flow of air from a crack in the plenum. Despite this, my final stance on the plenum is that it is a return air system with some pressure variances causing air to escape at spots. It acting as a return air system also works quite well with the other more easily understood components of the ventilation system. The main system at work during my visit was a great combination of mechanical and passive ventilation. There was fresh air intake along the base of the south facade; it was actually located under a grated walking surface. This intake undoubtedly led to a mechanical system for filtration and distribution. The delivery system was located within the south facade as a system of high volume blowers. The system then took on a passive approach through its use of stack ventilation to vent warm air out of the buildings structural peak. This approach was a great one for a space of this size and height. This is one of the things that is discussed in class but is rarely witnessed; getting to see a real system in use was an unexpected bonus to an architectural analysis.

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