Jean marie tjibaou cultural center, nouméa, new caledonia


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  • Hi Janpreet!

    Great presentation. Btw, where did you find the plan for the center? I'm giving a presentation on modern interpretations of vernacular architecture and I'm struggling to find a good resolution plan.

    Could you maybe forward me the plan. I'd be ever so grateful and include in you in my list of sources ^_^

    My email is
    Are you sure you want to  Yes  No
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Jean marie tjibaou cultural center, nouméa, new caledonia

  1. 1. Jean Marie Tjibaou Cultural Center, Nouméa, New Caledonia Renzo Piano Building Workshop Sandy Yeung #20067270 Rising from the tropical vegetation and colonial huts built by native Kanak People, is the Jean Marie Tjibaou Cultural Center. Designed by Renzo Piano in 1993, the architecture is a celebration of the Kanak culture. It is situated in New Caledonia, a French colony in the South Pacific. The building, with its greenery, paths, and unique ventilation system (representing wind) expresses the harmonious relationship with the environment, typical of the Kanak culture. Before we begin to study the architecture and its success as a green project, it is essential to first understand the climate condition of New Caledonia. Located in Oceanic, New Caledonia has a semi-tropical climate. It is relatively warm throughout the year, with an average temperature of 25-27ºC from September to March, and 20- 23ºC from April to August.1 In general, the climate in New Caledonia is considered hot and humid; thus one of the main concern for the center is to incorporate an efficient passive cooling system in its design. This is achieved through ventilation, microclimates and shading devices. The passive ventilation system is one of the main devices for cooling and ventilating the Tjibaou Cultural Center. Ten wooden abstract huts, all varying in sizes, which Piano refer to as “cases”, are arranged in a gentle curve along the peninsula. For maximum ventilation, the architecture is sited on a hilltop, where it is most windy, facing towards the south prevailing wind. On this side of the site, very few trees are planted, so that wind can easily access the building. On the other hand, tall trees are planted along the east and west side to “funnel” the wind into the center. 1 South Elevation 1
  2. 2. Although ventilation is useful for passive cooling, cooling the air can create an even more pleasant environment, especially in this hot and humid climate. Surrounding the site is water (fig.2), a practical device to cool the air and human body physically and psychologically. Due to the temperature difference between land and water, cool sea breezes are generated during the day, while land breezes are generated at night. Although water adds humidity to the already over humid environment, the sight and sound of it can still be cooling to human body psychologically. A second factor that cools the air is the fact that the architecture is elevated above sea level. The steep slope on the south side (direction of prevailing wind) has a cooling effect on the wind as it travels up the slope from the sea to the building. 2. Section through the Site / Library and Exhibition Room The cases are designed with a wooden double skin system (fig.4), where air circulates freely between the two layers of laminated wood. The system works to bring breezes down into the building or by guiding convection currents up and out of the cases, based on the venturi effect2 (fig.3). Wind is induced into the building and expelled through the top of the tilted roof. Since hot air rises to the top, this action of expelling wind will at the same time carry hot air out the building. Wooden slat claddings on the outer shell are spaced accordingly to encourage desired convection currents, and to exploit the monsoon winds coming from the sea, as it can be destructive. Monsoon wind is usually violent, bringing in rain and moisture that causes damages to the building. The cladding of the inner skin includes horizontal louvers at the base and below the roof. The louvers just below the roof are fixed open to maintain a balance of pressure inside and out, to prevent the wind from lifting the roof. The lower louvers are adjustable to control ventilation inside the building; they are opened and closed depending on the wind direction and intensity. Aside from aiding ventilation, 2
  3. 3. these louvers are also shading devices that control solar access. While ventilation creates a comfort zone physically, the “voice” of the wind (sound wind passes through the shafts) is also very effective for cooling the human body psychologically. 3 Operation of ventilation 4 Double skin Structure Equally important in Piano’s design is the double roof system (fig.5). The lower roof’s main purpose is to drain the gutters. The upper part, which consists of corrugated aluminum sheeting, sits above a large air space for ventilation. Also as a sunscreen, the aluminum sheeting extends out the building to shade external walls (fig.6). Furthermore, since the roof is composed with metal, it is practical for radiant cooling, as it conducts heat quickly, emitting energy. 5 Roof detail 6 Roof as shading 3
  4. 4. Solar control is an important aspect to consider in sustainable architecture. This includes issues dealing with natural lighting and shading. Depending on the function of a particular space, the amount of solar penetration varies. Experimenting with different program arrangement, and use of materials, Piano plays with various lighting and shading techniques simultaneously, to achieve the appropriate lighting effect for each of the spaces in his design. To add to what was said about the cases facing south for ventilation, another reason for this arrangement is for solar control. Since most of the large public spaces (such as lecture halls, theatre, galleries) are located in here in the cases, having them face the south will allow for the best access to natural lighting and view. These large spaces are then linked together with paths and passages, shaded and protected with overhangs and vegetation. On the north side are low structures containing offices, libraries, media room, and more exhibition spaces. All services area such as parking lots and utility rooms are located underground. 7 Floor Plan Depending on the function of the room, and the amount of lighting needed, the roof design is either glazed entirely, opaque, or a combination of the two. Where glazed, it is shaded with exterior louvers. Similar treatment is used for the sides of the structure. The different claddings give a unique character to each room. Where some spaces are “blind sided, top lit and introverted”, others are “extroverted and entirely lit through big windows over looking selected views”3. The variation in the cladding elements, in terms of sizes and spacing of wooden slats regulates not only views in and out, but also shading, and airflow. In hot and humid climate regions, shaded outdoor areas with cool breezes tends to be most comfortable. For this reason, terraces, courtyards, and performance areas 4
  5. 5. penetrate throughout the architecture, especially on the north side, where it tends to be cooler and less sunny. More than just comfort zones, these areas are effective for exposing the interior to more natural lighting and ventilation. As mentioned in the beginning, this piece of architecture is a celebration of the Kanak culture, which is all about nature, the link between greenery, paths and the wind. Thus it is important to establish a harmonious relationship between the architecture and the environment. Secondly, as already stated, outdoor public areas are sited throughout the architecture, and these spaces requires protection from the sun and wind. In such a case, microclimate of the surrounding area should be carefully considered. When creating a comfortable microclimate, it is critical to consider sun and wind protection. Although maximum ventilation is desired, control of wind is still necessary, due to the fact that the architecture is located on a hill top, and it is common to experience harsh, undesired wind condition. Looking at the site section (refer back to fig.2), one will notice that a curve is formed between the trees on the north, and the top of the case. The function of this curve is to deflect the wind away from the ground level area, thus creating a comfort zone for terraces, and other outdoor public areas that surrounds the building on the north. Aside from being used as a ventilation system the double wooden skin structure is also a windbreaker that blocks the prevailing wind from the south, creating a more welcoming environment for the outdoor spaces on the north side of the site. Terraces are placed throughout the site carefully, choosing the right type of typography to achieve the best microclimate condition. For example, there are neither tall trees nor structures to protect the terrace on the south (fig.8). To accommodate that, the terrace is sunken downwards; first to provide 8 Close up of south terrace 5
  6. 6. protection from the wind, secondly to make the trees tall enough to shade the area. Light reaches into this area by means of reflection off the wooden cases. Furthermore, since cold air sinks, this sunken terrace becomes a pool that collects cool air, making the gathering place cooling and comfortable. Not only are plants used for aesthetics, they are also effective in terms of regulating light. There are open outdoor spaces all around the architecture, i.e. the terrace, courtyards, and passages that leads visitors from one case to another. Examining the site map, it can be seen that in general, plants and vegetation surrounds the entire site for ventilation and shading purposes. As this is a project about relating to the environment, landscaping is an important element for passive cooling. Aside from having a symbolic importance, trees and plants are effective as shades, since they can filter out intense light, yet allow for some ventilation and solar access at the same time. 9 Site Plan The project for the Tjibaou cultural Center is successful in terms of being a sustainable architecture. Passive cooling is a major concern in the project, and the center’s unique ventilation is especially successful in achieving that. In additional to dealing with a wide range of sustainable issues, which includes vernacular typology in the design, use of passive cooling and ventilating, sustainable planning criteria, sustainable planting and landscaping, Piano’s design is able to merge with its surrounding environment both functionally and aesthetically. 6
  7. 7. Work Cited 1. Austin, Mike. The Tjibaou Cultural Center. 2. Detail. October-November 1998. Cultural Center in Noumea, New Caledonia, Pg.1201-1208 3. J.M Tjibaou Cultural Center. Noumea, New Caledonia. 4. Lechner, Norbert. Heating, Cooling, Lighting. New York: John Wiley and Sons Inc. 2001 5. Nordic Timber Council. Jean Marie Tjibaou Cultural Center, 6. Patrick Luk ; Geneviene Daphne Wong; Choy Suk Ling; Li Laam Hung; Leung Lo Ming. The Jean Marie Tjibaou Cultural Center. 1996 7. Piano Forte. October 1998 8. Renzo Piano Working Workshop. The Jean Marie Tjibaou Cultural Center. 9. The Architecture Review, Sea and Sky. 1 Altapedia Online, 2 Detail. Pg. 1201 3 Renzp Piano Working Workshop. 4 2 Natural Ventilation, 3 Natural Lighting and Shading, 7