Design Studio V // The University of Adelaide


DESIGN STUDIO V // The University of Adelaide


Adelaide Uni Architecture Students have finally come to the end of a gruelling first semester. This year, James Curry's Design Studio V brief proposes an apartment and bathhouse design for an empty block on Franklin Street, in the Adelaide CBD.


See what third year students undertaking the course have been up to this in 2017 to date and hear their take on the semester so far...


To design an apartment building on the given site in the city of Adelaide. This studio explored the quality of dense city living and how we as architects can explore alternatives to the typical apartment design. The design should reflect the idea that the city should provide an exceptional quality of life, with a large range of facilities, proximities and pleasures. The creation of a sense of place within this urban context should be achieved. The incorporation of an open, public ‘bathhouse’ into the design should pose questions of a structural nature and add to the challenges of designing an apartment complex

- Polly Pinnell






From the first sight, there seems to be a number of conflicts in this project:

1. How to integrate a bath house that requires certain privacy within a city center?

2. As a central junction, how to prevent blockage to crowds of pedestrian? 3. How to cope with the cultural transition from urban to suburban district? 4.  The local residents in the townhouse have close interaction, which is not typical of hyper-dense housing. How to create common space and promote interaction within the neighborhood?


To provide a solution to all the challenges above, I propose an urban landscape design with two innovative concepts: a bathhouse with a ramp-like roof top that connects to the ground, which also serves as an urban landscape park and a city junction; inclined and clustered residential apartments that engage community-building. 


I also designed a bath house with pools embedded to the ground level and a roof top that gradually ramps down and links to the ground floor. This roof top design engages people from the central district and bus terminal to enter from all directions. It also serves as an urban landscape park that is in need for a public interaction in this district.



Brainstorming with my Architecture friends





A typical apartment is all about extrusion of shape or stacking above one block to another; HillHaus acts the same, but in different style. The stacking of every small house units develop a sense of growing like the poker cards tower, forming different approach to a new typical apartment design. Each housing unit, consisting of 3 stories, is divided into 2 apartment units by the shear wall which channels down the load to the ground; its pitch roof rafters function as roof trusses.


Most single apartment units have a vantage view to the bathhouse at the ground floor, developing the sensation of warmth and relaxation through the shaft of voids. The juxtaposition of exterior artificial danpalon cladding and interior natural plywood finish creates a connection between the public and private space in one community and design.


Using lots of software which improved my graphic representation skills.

LOWS // 
Lack of time to produce something even better!!


Motivation and support from family, friends and God.




The project was to design a bathhouse apartment, dealing with contemporary urban conditions and exploring optimal ways to live in the city. Base on the idea of well-being and the variety of spaces and atmospheres to provide a high quality living space. 


Improvement of my Photoshop and rendering skills.

LOWS // 
My design was originally very simple and boxy, and couldn’t figure out how to have more interactions between the bathhouse and the apartment.

Inspirations from architectural magazines, books and Pinterest.




My project was heavily focused on dividing the apartment and pool house from the busy city in which it is located.


The apartments revolve around a sunken courtyard. This sunken space creates a barrier without sacrificing fresh air ventilation.


The apartments are lined with trees and wooden planks, these act as the facade of these apartments. The trees between floor levels provide relief from the busy city environment. They also create privacy from the other apartments. The planks run between floors to distort the scale of the buildings.


There are three distinct spaces within the bath house.

// The Outside Pool

// The Hot Rooms

// The Cold Rooms

These areas all provide a unique atmosphere, defined by the materials and functions within the respective spaces.


Gluing the last structural beam into my 1:100 structure model!

LOWS // 

A low point within the semester was when I was told that my structure was unable to hold itself up, and needed a complete redesign. The gridded column redesign ended up making my building far more functional.


Being at university 24/7




By blurring the line between indoor and outdoor space and essentially dissolving the typical corridor structure of an apartment complex, the final design could take on an unrestricted character. A public pool and café at street level entices people into the site, while the apartments above remain in a private setting. Voids running vertically throughout the building create connections between floors, enhancing a sense of community within the apartment complex. The final design focused on quality of living over quantity; intermediate communal spaces were of equal importance to private apartments when considering the spatial arrangement of each floor.


One of the best things about this semester was learning more about structural elements and real-life situations in which unique structural solutions were implemented. Studying under the guide of practicing architects and engineers was also of a great benefit.

LOWS // 

Up until this third year of study we had not really looked very closely at the physical construction of buildings and learning this kind of detailed knowledge in a relatively short period of time presented quite the gruelling challenge at times!


Study breaks and my gridded sketchbook





Repeated modules cluster above the pool and envelope the public space from Franklin Street. Screens of perforated concrete/breeze blocks enable swimmers privacy – and establish a relaxed setting at The Pond. Materiality remains bright and natural,encouraging a spring-like atmosphere where private and public occupants can take a dip.


Users are invited to dictate their own experience - submerged steps are a viewing platform over the recreation area and 50m lap length. Add a diving pool, steam/sauna facilities, and moodier spa nestled into the south eastern end of the pool. At its northwestern opening, the pool invites the northern Australian sun, and acts to reduce view corridors to the surrounding road and dampen street noise.


The northern facade has a direct entrance, while the southern side has no street facade - hence public sitting areas,bike hire, and vegetable patches were added to engage Chinatown and the Adelaide Central Market and regenerate the demolished urban garden. The central arch is the structural basis for the apartments and allows light to enter the public area (reminiscent of sunny bathhouses Leukerbad Therme and Piscine d’Auteruil). Access to apartments is via stairs wrapping the exterior of the building – traversing semi-private garden and balcony spaces.


Moments of clarity - when things in my design just made sense. And times my tutors were excited by my idea, or I received affirming feedback.

LOWS // 

Probably the times when I had been staring at the same thing/screen for so long that I started doubting my work. And late nights (early mornings)!!


Podcasts, fruchocs, and encouragement from family / friends / tutors / peers.


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