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Epygi Park Master Plan

Yerevan, Armenia
Mixed Use Development
In Progress 2013

Located northwest of Yerevan's city center, the Epygi Park Master Plan encompasses a site which runs along Halabyan Street, extending from the Kievyan Bridge to the planned Halabyan Street metro station, and including the Tumanyan Park. The available area for the development comprises a 5.6-hectare site with a total built-up area of 120,000 square meters, including a 20,000-square-meter existing structure which houses the Tumo Center for Creative Technologies located at the southern edge of the plot.

While the initial brief does not allocate a precise distribution of the proposed programmatic uses within the total built-up area, these would be split between offices, residential blocks, hotels, as well as retail and entertainment spaces including shops, movie theaters, restaurants and fitness centers. Furthermore, the client brings forward the importance of proposing a phasing strategy for the master plan. This planned approach should not only aim at establishing a self-financing project, but also at integrating the inevitable construction process into the viability of the development, notwithstanding its occupation by tenants during its partly-completed intermediate states.

Situated at the southern border of the plot, the aforementioned existing Tumo Center for Creative Technologies houses a 7,000-square-meters project coupled with an adjacent exterior park, both previously developed by Bernard Khoury / DW5 as part of an earlier phase. The interior intervention for the Tumo Center is organized around the logic of an interactive circuit, linking pedagogy and entertainment. Planned as somewhat of a large-scale extension for the Tumo center and its exterior park, our proposal for the Epygi Park Master Plan thus not only integrates said park into its design, but also seeks to emulate the essence of the Tumo center by echoing its concept of the interactive playground, incorporating the innovative, creative and open-to-all platform that the center upholds. Furthermore, unlike the site' previous master plan which formulates a final scheme in its saturated state while bypassing the state of its development, our design is developed around an evolutionary strategy, which allows for progressive and gradual intensification in tune with the maturing growth and demands of the city.

Our exercise begins with an intervention defined as a perimeter inscribing itself within the morphological limits of the site. An 18-meter depth was then introduced along the extreme margins of our plateau, consequently establishing utmost exposure to the periphery on all orientations, as well as on a maximum surface within this envelope. As a result, it was determined that hypothetically, an optimal 13,284 square meters of floor plate would be possible within the established plateau, with the potential for an eventual 6 stories including the ground floor, resulting in 79,704 square meters.

Having established a floor plate, 9 vertical circulation cores were positioned in order to feed the floor plates within reasonable distances. An average grid of 9 by 9 meters with a maximum overhang of 4.5 meters was then established.As one reference plane should be established at the ground floor, a decision was taken to reconcile it with the existing topography of the site's periphery by echoing our first landscaping scheme used for the design of the Tumo park. This thus materializes as a geometric three-dimensional abstraction of the existing topography, ultimately forming a landscape of varying oblique triangular planes, which simultaneously connects the differing levels of the site, as well as seemingly extends the Tumo park into the new Epygi scheme. Finally, the scale and depth of our plateau required a pedestrian and vehicular connection from the street to all proposed circulation cores.

The Immediate Project: Activating the SiteAt the initial phase, we proposed to level the site through the construction of a public plateau connecting the street to the Tumo park and the eastern edge of site. This 34,260-square-meter plateau consists of hardscape interventions and would incorporate the final vehicular circulation pattern, as well as the initial site activators, which consist of a 224-meter long by 6-meter wide one-storey bridge housing shared offices, studio apartments and a cafe or bar, horizontal galleries built within the plateau which serve as multi-purpose spaces, a pond and hardscape elements scattered within the intervention and which jointly form extensions of the Tumo park, as well as an underground parking which exceeds the parking needs of the project at this first phase, all the while fulfilling them for the project's eventual final phase, and simultaneously absorbing the difference in level between the established plateau and the lower points of the site at its eastern edge. Finally, beyond its symbolic significance depicting on-going and perpetual evolution and development, a crane is placed at the center of the plan serving various recreational, promotional and dynamic purposes.

In this immediate phase, with a minimal built-up area yet while simultaneously taking advantage of the plot's surface prior to its congestion, our preliminary gesture [of combining the aforementioned elements on a hypothetical plateau] connects our project to the Tumo center by benefiting from the aura of its already established program, concurrently gradually establishing itself to ultimately complement the Tumo Center itself. The resulting symbiotic relationship provides our intervention with an already brewing site, while simultaneously presenting the site with a scheme that will eventually place it on the map.

The Intermediate Project: Follies InjectionAt a transitional stage, a second layer of semi-public activities should be introduced to the site to further activate it. Each linked to one of the nine carefully placed vertical circulation cores, nine 'follies' are proposed as the necessary engines to further fuel the site, by injecting it with the various catalytic programs they each house. The 9 programs proposed for the follies include:

1. A Technology Store
2. Office Block 02
3. A Cineplex
4. A Fitness Center
5. A Hotel
6. Residential Block
7. Residential Block
8. Office Block
9. Multipurpose Hall and Stage

In addition, free-standing 9-by-9-meter pavilions could strategically be strewn across the site, accommodating a wide variety of possible programs, ranging from cafes and shops, to workshops and galleries.

The Long-term Project: Infill AdditionBeyond the intermediate stage and at this point being activated by the synergy collectively created by the inserted catalytic activities, the site still holds a remaining allowable 62,908 square meters of built-up area. The foreseen and pre-established circuit within the periphery of the plateau, along which the nine pairs of follies and circulation cores are placed, allows for the anticipated addition of the remaining surfaces, by simply plugging them into the existing cores. These standard 18-meter deep double-oriented floor plates could be phased as nine progressive interventions ranging from the smallest 4,365-square-meter one to the biggest with a surface of 10,035 square meters, and could be constructed gradually according to buyers' demand, as well as real estate maturing of the development. The resulting long-term project which incorporates approximately 63% of the total built-up area can therefore be progressively constructed on a relatively modest budget due to the typical nature of the floor plates, which are built with a common structural system as well as within a modular and repetitive grid, and which are merely plugged into existing circulation cores.