The Sky Beach responds to conflicting demands of program and site: we needed to find an artful way to balance a smooth, low-incline pedestrian path with a large lawn on a narrow ridge.

The promenade of the Sky Beach references the infrastructural context of the highway switchbacks on the northern slopes of the site.

We maintained the larger landscape gesture by creating small switchbacks on each end of the circulation path. The Sky Beach became an asymmetrical berm on top of the ridge.

With this sectional idea in mind, we reframed the design problem as a grading study of a path, in which each existing contour has to smoothly integrate with the evenly spaced contours at the edge of the path. Thinking through grading allowed us to design the form of the sky beach in three dimensions within the constraints of the linear path profile and existing topography.

Adjusting series of divisions allowed us to digitally sculpt the Skybeach

From here, I developed a Grasshopper script that would allow us to:

  1. Iterate the curve of the path in plan while maintaining “control points” at each end

  2. Generate and iterate the shape of the Sky Beach in plan by establishing a "sky beach edge”

  3. Iterate the vertical profile of this Sky Beach edge using numerical series to define contour spacing (i.e. increasing and decreasing contour spacing)

  4. Specify a 1:2 slope for the sky beach shoulder

  5. Instantly generate a digital model of the sky beach

  6. Output contours to Civil3D for use in the machine-controlled grading process of our builder

The script allowed us to adjust the sky beach compositionally while maintaining control over its extents and excluding undesirable qualities (for example, becoming too narrow or steep).

Read on Substack