August 8, 2022

Blog @ Munaf Sheikh

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CECUCO is a modular prototype that can adapt to any context


CeCuCo by noa* is a cultural center without a fixed context


as part of a complex research project led by italian firm noa*, CECUCO (center for culture and community) is an ambitious design proposal without a fixed context – capable of transforming itself to adapt to anyone and anywhere. among the infinite design possibilities, it was clear to the team which direction they had to take: designing an architecture that is not indifferent to what happens inside it, a space that enables users to ‘define’ it through their actions and movements. 


in other words, the project reveals a flexible design capable of reacting to changes in context and adapting to different scales – from macro-projects to street furniture. ‘this cultural center could be located on a beach on a volcanic island, in the scandinavian forests, on an abandoned lot in detroit or on the roofs of socialist housing in berlin. it is an architecture able to mold itself to the morphological and climatic requirements of the context while maintaining intact the concept of sociality and interaction between the building and those who live in it,’  reveals noa*.

all renders © omega render



a modular design based on triangular geometry


the team at noa* based the geometry of the CECUCO proposal on an elementary form: the triangle repeated modularly in both plan (inscribed in a 3x3m square) and elevation (marked in a 3×1.5m square). working with geometries that are easy to assemble allows the cultural center to expand or contract according to the needs of the context. in addition, on an urban planning level, the triangles can combine into various shapes, resulting in different space typologies like a slab, courtyard, or punctiform village. 


moreover, using the triangular module on the façades opens up to a variety of configurations, like in a chessboard: some elements can be moved, with certain rules and in specific directions, which it is then up to the people who experience the architecture to control. ‘doors can be moved, fanned out, turned on their hinges, lowered, raised, ajar… and the same goes for windows. a wide range of possibilities for an intuitive and playful architecture, made up of moves and countermoves, where the game of action and reaction between community and building gives life to the most diverse scenarios,’ reveals the architectural team.




when defining the functional program, noa* first investigated the needs of a cultural center and how to create a highly inclusive architecture. one that caters simultaneously to children meeting to play, adults viewing an exhibition, and teenagers listening to a concert. more importantly, it was crucial to outline the characteristics of a meeting space open all year round and reflecting the public counterbalance to the private domestic realm.


the solution to those investigations was clear: defining different spaces capable of satisfying multiple needs rather than specifying a fixed list of functions. through 6 types of floor plans, the team managed to accommodate all possible activities of the center. for example, a small module houses an artist’s atelier, a newspaper stall, a storeroom, a management office, a staircase, and changing rooms. the medium module includes toilets, a library room, and open-air bleachers since not all modules stand for covered spaces. as the floor plans move to larger sizes, the possibilities vary even more – culminating in a 115 sqm area designed for theatre and cinema.

noa* envisions a cultural center that can adapt to any context, climate + scale



thinking local: adopting a sustainable vision 


beside its hyper-functional nature, noa* wanted the CECUCO prototype to reflect solid, sustainable values in all aspects of the design; this includes the choice of materials and construction techniques. therefore, natural materials and an exposed construction system, easy to assemble and dismantle, were chosen. as a result, the standard design presents a façade made up of an exposed wooden structure and a wall of clay bricks – alternating with transparent parts – both modulated based on the triangular geometry.


since sustainability is central to the design, the final choice of materials must be checked for availability on-site, thermal conductivity, energy consumption, and the presence of the necessary know-how skills. similarly, the team wanted to promote a positive impact on the building’s ecological footprint by proposing green roofs and pergolas, photovoltaic systems, rainwater collecting systems, cross-ventilation systems, and ponds and wooded areas for a temperate microclimate. noa* envisions a cultural center that can adapt to any context, climate + scale


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