Usually, when we talk about Multifunctional Architecture, we think about big buildings with huge structures placed on a gigantic space. While it is true that some of the best known multifunctional buildings present these characteristics, there are other constructions, also part of this architectonic tendency, perfectly integrated into their environment.
The multifunctional architecture tries to cover with its designs people’s needs, including multifunctional spaces used to accommodate libraries, exhibition halls, museums, etc. The truth is that culture is one of the main beneficiaries of the possibilities that this architectural style offers.
The most important multifunctional architects are able to masterly build new areas where design and functionality are combined, creating amazing works of art that surround us, no matter the city we live.
Multifunctional architecture at culture’s service
Integrated Surroundings. Saw Swee Hock Student Centre. London School of Economics.
The Saw Swee Hock Student Centre is a clear example of the way that multifunctional architecture adapts to users’ needs. Architects Sheila O’Donnell and John Tuomey captured the essence of the environment and the character needed for a building used by thousands of teachers and students every day.
Their intention was to create a Student Centre presenting the main characteristics of the multifunctional tendency. The result is a building with a strong contemporaneous character, inviting the visitors to enter and be welcomed. At the same time, these architects did not lose the originality, designing a space with an external appearance, perfectly integrated into the narrow streets and brick buildings that surround the Student Center. From the outside, it is possible to see the beautiful forms of the building matching perfectly with its surroundings.
Inside, an open stairways spiral surrounds the central lift, emphasising the spaciousness. The architects paid attention to every single detail of this magnificent multifunctional building. At the same time, natural stone floring was choosen to cover some areas of this project.
Arquitectos: O´Donnell + Tuomey
Ubicación: Londres, Inglaterra
Area: 6.000 m2
Fecha de finalización: 2014
Challenging the sound: Krakow Congress Center, Poland
This magnificent building has provided its architects Irganden & Ewy with important awards and that is not surprising. The Congress Center of Krakow stands out for several reasons: a spectacular glass facade, the elegance on the inside… every detail has been carefully chosen.
This multifunctional building is prepared to house not only a congress center but also it includes different spaces for music, ballet and theatre performances. Here, it is where the architects had to face additional challenges, different from those typical of multifunctional architecture, the acoustics. Every detail has to be taken into account and the sound was a key element of this construction. The objective was to build a functional space nice not only for the eyes but also for the ears.
Another challenge that these architects had to control was related to the integration of the building into its surroundings. The Congress Center of Krakow is located in one of the most distinguished areas of Poland. With this in mind, the exterior was designed including a glass facade that offers a panoramic view of the old city of Krakow, situated right opposite.
The facades are composed of glass, ceramics, and aluminium that allows the reflection of the colour applied inside the building. If the exterior is remarkable, on the inside you can find a beautiful area where the predominant colours are white, red and aluminium. The visitor can only be amazed by the purity of its distribution, the modernism applied to its lines, and the contrasting colours and forms.
Architect: Ingarden & Ewy Architects
Location: Grunwaldzkie Roundabout, Krakow, Poland
Area: 36.720 m2
Photos: Ingarden & Ewy
A path of seamless learning: The Library Building – Clapham, London
From an architectural perspective, some of the most beautiful constructions that have ever been built accommodate libraries. In the specific case of libraries + multifunctional architecture, The Library Building in Clapham designed by the Studio Egret West is with no doubt, one of the most beautiful and trend setting constructions. This 12 storey building includes not only a public library but also private apartments and doctor health centres. It is formed by different white stone volumes articulated to break down the overall mass and soften the visual impact from the outside.
This is an elegant building with a unique form that calls the attention of the passers-by but does not obstruct the space. Its cladding reinforces the form of the building and provides a special texture that becomes more interesting at a closer look.
Inside, the library is distributed around a spiral that integrates and connect the different areas. At the centre, a big open space offers different functionalities and facilitates the progress of the typical activities of a public library.
An open spiral ramp offers visitors the possibility to observe any of the activities developed in the central area, accessible from any point of the building. According to the architects, the spiral represents a path of seamless learning connecting each area of this multifunctional building in a unique way.
We need to emphasise the architects’ wise choice while designing this construction. From the very moment, that the citizen enters into this building, is able to identify each area on this library. This characteristic is not only highly valuable for the library users but it is also one of the most distinctive features of multifunctional architecture where different spaces are combined in one.
Architect: Studio Egret West
Location: London, England
Through these constructions is possible to observe some of the main characteristics of multifunctional architecture including open and clear spaces that play with the volume and transform its surroundings while inviting the citizens to enjoy its different functionalities.