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Issue 7.1

The HiLo Integrated Floor: Reviewing the Relation Between Structural and Environmental Systems

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) set up a competition in 2009 for the design of a new College Chapel in Oxfordshire, won by In his book The Architecture of the Well-Tempered Environment, first published in 1964, Reyner Banham devotes two chapters to the difficult interrelation between structural and environmental systems: “Such things had to be slung under the slab, and, in buildings of any pretensions beyond strict utility, concealed by conventional plastered ceilings.”Footnote1 Paradoxically, it is the very capability of environmental systems that allows for designing any space anywhere by providing heat, cold, and light through building service systems, independent of the access to natural resources. The undesired consequence, however, is that they manifest in aggregates, pipes, ducts, inlets, and outlets distributed across the building, where they are prone to clash with structural systems such as beams, columns, and floors, and certainly with aesthetic positions. Benham traces the first documented conflict back to 1906. Since then, these positions have oscillated between concealment through adding layers or exposing in either rigorous and geometric systems or sculptural, narrative pieces.

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