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University of Cambridge
Architecture Society

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︎Studio 4, Year 3

Barbara Urmossy

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Ars Electronica San Jose

In my graduation project I chose to focus on designing an earthquake-proof museum of current and future cutting edge technologies in San Jose, by naming the existing Ars Electronica museum in Linz, Austria as my client. As most big-tech companies in the Silicone Valley area are housed in monumental complexes walled off from the public, technology is the realm of a privileged few. This project aims to change this by making technological innovation available for everyone, igniting children’s passion to choose bold, interesting and creative career paths – much like its precedent in Austria.

The design consists of circular, structural steel frames which are then held in place in the event of an earthquake by thin carbonfibre wires in tension. This system is extremely functional while it also serves a space-modulating purpose: the snaking cables divide the otherwise endless museum space into small alcoves, each big enough to host one exhibit.

To invite visitors inside, the museum is human-scaled compared to the monumental conglomerate architecture surrounding it. It also has a translucent, heat-insulating polycarbonate façade, which creates intrigue and invites pedestrians inside for exploration. To further this effect and to create variety in the façade, the cables are parted near entrances, signaling entry points from far away.

The foundations are also important for the project: the seismic mat foundations are capable of surviving liquefaction in the deeper layers of the soil without any damages. Additionally, it is raised by 600 mm to counteract the sinking of the mat foundations during earthquakes.

Barbara Urmossy

︎Studio 4, Year 3

Year 1