Pinch, Sweep, Warp

Department: Architecture
Designer: Olivier Ottevaere
Co-Designer: John Lin

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The Pinch, Sweep and Warp are three earthquake reconstruction projects located in Yunnan Province, China. The series maximizes the social and programmatic impact of small-scale, i.e. area of around 100 sq. m. interventions. Each challenges how architecture is shaped by a specific material and construction process.

Both multifaceted and site specific, Pinch, Sweep, Warp is a multi-object design project that is a site specific architectural response, prototypical to the landscape’s seismic activity.

The three timber structures are experiments in ruled-based construction, which is typically defined as developable geometry. By contrast, these projects are concerned with the translation of doubly curved surfaces into linear geometry while also taking into account specific material constraints derived from timber construction.

Located in Yunnan’s remote mountainous landscape, each project aimed to respond to the active seismicity of the region by addressing structural logics between timber and foundation. Each was also designed to maximize the use and viewing experience of the landscape via structural wooden trusses and decked, ruled surfaces. The outcomes are three structures, each with a diversity of social programs directing the design of the projects; a library, a play area and a roadside market.

The projects are the result of ongoing collaboration with a local timber workshop, and thus challenge standard architectural practices that separate design from building as two distinctive exercises. They represent experimental construction methods that adapt complex geometries to simple local techniques.

It has won 12 international awards, Most notably, Best Small Project of the Year 2014 by the World Architecture Festival (WAF), Best Experimental Project by the World Chinese Architecture
(WAACA) and Best of Best Category (9 categories in total) by Perspective Global, Highly Commended by Architectural Review Library Awards 2018 The WAF jury commented: “An elegant project that demonstrated research into a material, building system, making an urban place that has answered a vital need for enclosure, congregation and culture in a remote and earthquake-stricken zone”

It has been exhibited at a range of venues and locations, including The Museum of Modern Art in New York.

It is has been featured in edited books, such as the Phaidon World Atlas of Architecture.

It has been reviewed in 27 professional magazines, such as Lotus International, Detail, Architectural Record, Architectural Review, Architecture Interieure, Domus, Azure.

Enlarge Photo: Pinch, Sweep, Warp 1