The Massing Complex

Related Staff : David Erdman

Instructor: David Erdman
Visiting Critic: Clover Lee
Assistants: Jason Dembski, Donncha O’brien, Gordon Yuen, Steven Ma
Students: Tiffany Chan Wai Tim, Cheng Wing Yan, Jiang Leilei, Kang Jian,Wallace Ng Cheuk Fai, Lucienne Shiu Ying Suet, Joanna So Ming Ming, Song Yang, Tian Yi, Wang Haoran, Wu Man Hoi, Zhang Mengqiu.
Guest Critics: Michael Speaks (Dean USY), David Tseng (Dean NCTU), Stephen Fong (VP Rose Rock Group), Aria Yang (Designer AECOM), Andrew Mead (Chief Architect MTR), Hoyin Lee (Chair HKU Conservation), Aric Chen (Architecture Curator M+), Tobias Berger (Curator M+).

Two primary issues drive The Massing Complex Studio at HKU: the issue of how to design a 21st century “Complex” and that of how to cull or exaggerate specific architectural qualities in relation to their surrounding context – in this case, Taipei. The Massing Complex Version 2.0 (TMC2.0) builds upon research developed in Spring 2013 at HKU, this year with the University of Syracuse, National Chiao Tung University (NCTU) and the Taipei City Government. It is among a number of R+D Studios that began at HKU in 2013 with a focus on engaging political and private entities directly, through design research.

The city of Taipei as a distinct architectural subject, can be understood through its voids – its clusters of arcades and alleyways, linear in form, that create bubble-like textures within the city to give the urban space a distinctive experience. This urban effervescencecan be mined for both its latent cultural and architectural relevance as well is its plastic ability to be transformed and experimented on.

Reinforced by contemporary issues that challenge Taipei’s national and civic identity, The Massing Complex (TMC) studios at HKU have drawn upon this urban effervescenceas a means to enrich and transform the site of the Taipei Train Depot (TTD). Working as a single team with smaller clusters of geographical, design and technical expertise, the studios’ process enabled a number of approaches for maximizing the Complex’s heterogeneity. Through a number of intensive modeling and visualization experiments the students have come to recognize the coarseness and texture found within Taipei as an asset, combining it with color, horticulture and media, at new scales and in new cadences. The arcades and pathways of these projects are the traditional alleyways and arcades of Taipei – on steroids. The project has the potential to overturn assumptions of civic identity or urban autonomy as well as disrupt divisions between the disciplines of architecture, planning, urban design, conservation and landscape architecture, providing a glimpse of The Massing Complex.

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