Project's Summary

Houston, Texas, known for its prominence in the oil and gas business sector, is looking to redefine its cultural identity as it sets its sights on the international stage of Expo 2020. A select committee in Houston has taken on the task of creating a city brand that goes beyond its association with the energy industry. In their bid to showcase the city's diverse cultural offerings, the committee has focused on the development of a unique architectural project – a two-story building called the "Performance Shed."

The committee sought a design approach that would be flexible and adaptable to multiple site possibilities. In response, the architectural studio SMLA, LLC came up with a concept that incorporates principles of scale adaptation and retrofitting. The result is a pavilion that serves as a dedicated space for community gatherings and events.

The design of the Performance Shed draws inspiration from historical references and construction techniques used in aeronautical design. By utilizing lightweight cylindrical structures, the architects aimed to optimize space and create a monocoque system of simple geometry. This approach, borrowed from the ingenuity of aeronautic design, provides both sophistication and economical efficiency.

Through the exploration of intersecting cylindrical structures, the architects have managed to create a visually striking pavilion with a complex sculpted interior. The design features an open floor plan that seamlessly integrates smaller, more intimate spaces. These areas can be used for a variety of purposes, such as meeting spaces, galleries, or exhibitions, to reflect the rich culture and history of Houston.

Houston's unique history plays a significant role in the design of the Performance Shed. The city was originally developed from six distinct wards, each with its own personality and social attributes. While these wards no longer officially exist, they continue to be used socially to describe different areas within Houston. The configuration of barrel vaults and intersections in the pavilion allows for the representation of each ward, paying homage to the city's past while embracing its future.

As Houston prepares to make its mark on the international stage of Expo 2020, the Performance Shed stands as a testament to the city's commitment to innovation and cultural diversity. With its adaptable design and incorporation of historical references, this architectural masterpiece serves as a welcoming space for community gatherings and a symbol of Houston's evolving identity.

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