One Simple Move
EML 01 - 19 - 2010

The importance of environmentally responsive buildings has been discussed ad nausea. The visibility of environmental design principles is a debate worth engaging. Should these principles be overt or should they act as an intrinsic piece of the architecture, in unison with the over-arching design move? Put another way, is it better to have in-your-face rainwater collection cisterns or tacked on photovoltaic panels? The purpose of such an obviously 'green' building is often to educate the public on the importance of sustainable living. The result of an attitude can too often lead to a cluster of applied sustainable add-ons. The more artful incorporation of these design principles result in a unified building which neither compromises form for the environment nor the environment for form. The TGV terminal in Avignon exhibits a very simple, cohesive design move. The long terminal stretches along a length of tracks outside the walled city. The cross section of the station, in simplest terms, is a pointed arch (perhaps referencing the gothic architecture found in Avignon). The section ranges in scale, from small human scaled ends to a monumentally scaled center (denoting the entrance). It is this design move that all other aspects of the station follow. With the use of the pointed arch section, two sides become distinct. The architect uses this natural break (in unison with the primary idea of the building) to differentiate materials. One side employs a simple wood clad interior and concrete panel exterior while the other side of the arch is completely glazed. This towering wall allows daylight to passively warm the building. However, in the summer when sun angles are steeper, the glazing system, situated in louvers, acts as a self shading device. This is possible due to a pattern of ceramic dots embedded in the glass louvers. The TGV terminal successfully incorporates sustainable design principles (orientation, daylighting, heating) while simultaneously respecting the principle ideas of the building's form.

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