Designer: Olivier Ottevaere
Crest is a rest area and restaurant situated on a gentle slope along a riverbank in Anji county, Zhejiang Province. It was designed to test how effectively locally grown and produced materials such as bamboo could be used in contemporary architecture, using complex geometry and novel construction techniques, such as the way bamboo poles are jointed, in combination with highly skilled local craftsmanship. It was designed to test how local and imported building strategies could be combined to produce a new architectural expression of the vernacular.
Crest was submitted to represent the Department of Architecture of the University of Hong Kong in the 2017 National Universities Bamboo Design and Construction Competition, where it was selected as one of twenty final projects to be constructed. The competition was organized by the Chinese government to promote innovative and experimental green construction practices through an engagement with sustainable materials and local building techniques. The competition stipulated that all competition entries utilize bamboo as the major building material.
The design process also merged research and teaching practices through design. University of Hong Kong students were invited to participate in the project, and gained hands-on building experiences by working closely on-site with a team of local craftsmen.
Crest is composed of three distinct parts, including a) a retaining wall and concrete foundation, which receives b) a bamboo structure, which in turn supports c)a pleated roof, covering a shaded areaof around 150 square meters.
The project belongs to a larger body of practice research work that investigates how ruled-based construction practices can be applied to specific, rural contexts in China through different materials.
As ongoing experimentations from Crest, ruled-based prototypes were developed and built at a series of scales (from a wall to room size element) in an effort to explore how a range of different construction techniques might perform in relation to different sizes of structures. Prototypes include a curtain wall, mush-room, and roof shell. These techniques included formworks made of bamboo poles for concrete casting. An additional variable concerned the variety of materials to be used in the building’s construction, which included naturally grown bamboo, fabric, concrete, and wood.
The project received second prize at the 2017 National Bamboo Design and Construction competition, Anji, Zheijiang province. It has also been published online in various professional platforms and featured in national and local television programs throughout China.