Date of Award

Spring 5-30-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Master in Interior Architecture [Adaptive Reuse]


Interior Architecture

First Advisor

Jonathan Bell

Second Advisor

Heinrich Hermann

Third Advisor

Wolfgang Rudorf


Sloping sites present a variety of difficulties to the structures on which they are built: difficulty in access, difficulty in delineating the space, difficulty in reaching specific functional areas. These problems aren’t caused by the sloping site itself; the sloping site is a natural terrain. The problem lies in the contradiction between the natural sloping site and the traditional hillside architectural forms which evolved from flatland architecture. The College Building of the Rhode Island School of Design exemplifies the use of flatland architectural typology on the hillside . During the expansion of Rhode Island School of Design in 1935, RISD bought five buildings along College Street and joined the group into a single mass, now know as the College Building. Situated within the campus core, adjacent to the RISD museum, 3D store and Metcalf building, the College Building encompasses the entire block of College Street between Main and Benefit Street and houses six different departments: Textiles, Liberal Arts, Painting, Apparel, Architecture and Design, and the Writing Center. The building is erected on a 20 percent slope with 5501SF of inefficient interior space, mainly used for circulation. The College Building calls for a renovation to address efficiency and accessibility, a renovation that acknowledges the needs of a sloping site.

In order to effectively work with and not against the College Building during this renovation, it is necessary to address the obvious juxtaposition between what is created by man and what is organic. Respecting the natural typology of a sloping site is necessary and the interior renovation must reinforce the same topographic language as the sloping site. Slope and stairs are similar when you want to be led up or down to a different point. They help you to reach the the very top, to attain the peak. The rules of stairs on one hand is dictated by the shape and proportion of human body , on the other hand, it is dominated by the force of gravity. The relationship between a tread and a riser necessarily determines the angle of the stairs as much as the angle of a climbing body is determined by the angle of a hillside or cliff face. College building is highly programmed, its instinctive anticipation awaits an alteration in adding unprogrammed space. Stairs is the medium that can be manipulated as the “in between” space so as to reenergize the existing building and motivate positive changes. Here, undefinable also signifies infinite possibility.



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