The gap site

Although gap sites are a sign of town planning deficit, they also provide opportunities for new urban development and planning. The task is to plan a Student Dorm house, infilling an empty lot on a busy street between two old buildings in Aachen, Germany. To find the right solution I had to conduct an extensive research and thorough planning to understand the underlying challenges designing the dorm.
The research started with analyzing the heat losses and solar gains which are dictated by the geographical positioning of the site, climate and duration and intensity of the direct and indirect sunlight. Furthermore, the property is situated on a heavy traffic road which requires a close examination of the noise levels, generated by the passing vehicles.

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My room requirements

The actual site is located on the 196th Jülicher Str., Aachen, in the proximity of a light industry region, for example Zentis – a company from the food industry. The task is to design a building, which is to be used as a student dorm, with at least one handicap-accessible apartment. There should also be a publicly used space on the ground floor.
For this project we had to begin the process of designing from the inside out. What this means is that the first step of the designing process was to pick 3 random student types, create their furniture and arrange their space. After that I made a list of my requirements for each and every room – the orientation, the size of the windows, amount and direction of light, light color, solar protection and sight focus. As a transition step to the actual design I defined the position of every room. The concept of that was to separate the private from the collective space in every apartment. On the one side of the flat are situated the private rooms– bedrooms, bathroom, restroom and storage room, and on the other side are positioned the rooms, which can be used together from everybody and also from guests – hall, living room, kitchen and also a reading space. 

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The design

The public space on the ground floor is to be used as a Vitamin bar, which can be used both from the students living in the building and from all the other people. This vitamin bar offers a healthy and nutritious alternative to the normal bar. On the other side of the ground floor there is a communal space for the residents of the building with a foosball and a reading space with library. They also have an access to a big and green space in the backyard.
The upper floors could be reached through the building circulation (staircase and an elevator) – there are two types of which 1st and 3rd floor are with three bedrooms and the 2nd and the 5th are with 2 bedrooms. All the bedrooms and also the communal space on each floor are equipped with seat windows and cabinets underneath them. All of the floors are handicap-accessible. 

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The facade

The front and back façades are not the same, which is justified by the importance of minimizing the heat losses. The main concept for the windows in the bedrooms is to have seat windows with functional area underneath the seats. Half of them have handicap-accessible height. The array of the windows is consisting of 2 parapets – 1 meter and 50 centimeter. 
The colorful pattern is aimed to make a connection to the historical years of rapid industrial expansion at the end of the 19th century in Germany. The three-window-house was a distinctive type of building design over that period. The pattern also creates a connection to the surrounding historical buildings and at the same time it conveys the message of a youth occupied building, which is also supported by the irregular pattern and dynamics of the windows. 

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Energy concept

The wastewater from all the households, public and industrial facilities is a big potential thermal energy source. A lot of economic and environmental costs can be reduced by improving the energy efficiency of water and wastewater facilities’ equipment and operations, by promoting the efficient use of water and by capturing the energy in wastewater to generate electricity and heat. Having already known about Zentis – a light industry building from the food branch, I have decided to look for an opportunity to use it.
There was also a project for the energy efficiency optimization of the nearby buildings, for which a more extensive research was conducted by the city of Aachen and it has shown that such projects would be very advantageous for the area. The research also showed that the average waste water temperature in the area was 12°C, which makes it a good heat source.
The facility for wastewater collection and treatment in the neighborhood would consist of one big plate heat exchanger in the wastewater stream, a cold local heating network and a couple of heat pumps in each building. 


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