Congratulations to Alex Cheng Yuk Sing (MArch 2022) and Jonathan So Cheuk Lam (MArch 2022) on winning the DFA Young Design Talent Special Mention Award 2022 (Environmental Design), with their thesis projects ‘Symbiotic Interaction In Architecture – Between Machinery and Biomimicry’ (advisors: Au Fai and Ulrich Kirchhoff) and ‘Calibrating Obsolescence – Transitional Scaffolding for Urban Redevelopment’ (advisors: Wallace Chang and Chad Mckee), respectively.
‘Symbiotic Interaction In Architecture – Between Machinery and Biomimicry’ by Alex Cheng (MArch 2022)
With this award, Alex wants to contribute to the housing environment in Hong Kong, particularly transitional housing development and modular integrated construction.
This thesis project re-thinks the existing mitigation measures (shaft spillway) for natural terrain landslides in Hong Kong and redesigns such infrastructure to a hydropower plant by using the existing water momentum. Most of the design for the hydropower plant room is the engineering approach that was built as machinery. Our living environments are built on artificial lands and slopes and separated from nature by using concrete and steel. Those materials are mainly used for the building structure and as mitigation measures such as, man-made slopes and reinforced-concrete rigid barriers. Can such machinery be used not just as a support for engineering or defensive infrastructure but as ecological systems that frame a dialogue between nature and human? This thesis project is looking for a symbiotic megastructure that integrates the machinery and biomimicry in order to create a new type of ecological megastructure to support our livelihood. Most importantly, it addresses the false perception that those infrastructures had to be served as back of house services, hidden behind inside the plant room.
‘Calibrating Obsolescence – Transitional Scaffolding for Urban Redevelopment’ by Jonathan So (MArch 2022)
Johnathan thinks that urban redevelopment should demonstrate inclusiveness and resilience, encouraging cooperation between the government, developers, owners, and residents.
With the ever-surging demand for spatial density, a rising amount of ageing building stocks are rendered obsolete awaiting redevelopment. The lingering procedure of urban renewal creates a 10-year vacancy just by counting land acquisition. The thesis capitalises on this obsolescence for an alternative redevelopment methodology as a critique of the wasteful phenomenon of tearing down buildings completely before their expiry date.
Building upon the idea of ‘waste’ by Neil Gershenfeld as something without enough information to be reused, this thesis advocates for a transitional wooden scaffolding kit-of-parts that gives new definitions to the prescribed concrete structure framework. By calibrating the existing structure to a broad spectrum of spatial and programmatic possibilities, it aims to extend the buildings’ afterlife and reduce waste in both space-time and material terms.
It is a soft process of negotiations in urban redevelopment between the government, developers and owners, as an alternative to the inhumane hard measures forcing residents out. It is an economic empowerment for the residents to take part in the redevelopment process, against gentrification that is often present in most conventional renewal projects.