Architectural Promenade

When an Architect designs a building, the ultimate challenge is to organize the space in an integrated way that unifies the entire building. Among the most difficult design problems that come up is the placement and integration of circulation (stairs, ramps, etc.). In my last project I attempted to utilize the circulation as the major means of experiencing the space. It was the force that drove the design, around which all other elements of the building fell into place. I did this by making the stairs quite large and open to the spaces below them. While this approach was innovative and effective in many aspects, I learned a very valuable lesson about how to use a purposeful circulation system in the design process.

Main Sairs
MakerSpace circulation system
Model of Circulation

My final review for the project raised a very interesting question. My reviewing Professor highlighted an architectural phenomenon referred to as the Architectural Promenade. She pointed out that because the circulation system is so large, it can not simply be a means of bringing people from point A to point B. It must in some way relate to a larger spacial sequence that takes people through other architectural moments to get to point B. I did some research to try and find an example of this design approach in use and found LeCorbusier’s Villa Savoye. 

The building features a main ramp circulation system which at each level has moments at which the person can experience an Architectural element. The end of the “promenade” through the house ends with a viewpoint out of the roof terrace.

6581eeeee5f5eabb4d13408dc3872758VS Circ

This very deliberate location and placement of the circulation is an example of the Architectural Promenade. It responds to the challenge of seamlessly integrating the spatial sequence through circulation with the spacial distribution of the building.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Mohamed Elwakil says:

    Great posting Zain. I love the idea of you researching the concept. I studied villa Savoy in architecture history but never thought of this architectural promenade concept in the ramp and neither did any of our professors.

    Another good example would be the Frank Lloyd Wright Guggenheim museum on Fifth Ave. In his design the circular ramp was used to experience the art displays as you were going up or down the gallery space.

    Why don’t you, when you have time develop that concept by sketching what u could do to ur main stairs/ spaces to achieve the promenade experience?

    Mohamed Elwakil


  2. Maissa Hamed says:

    What a thought provoking posting Zain. Your recently designed spaces not only provide solutions to the circulation concept you so adequately address, but also provide a certain calming mood of peace thru a kind of spacial affluence you bring about in your designs where the human soul feels happy and free to roam spatially unrestricted yet feeling embraced by your circulation system that pulls the whole experience together, spatially and spiritually. I feel I want or rather yearn to be in your designed spaces due to that inviting peaceful mood that characterize them. Keep going and delight us more as you go.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s