Wild Massing

Using Piranesi’s Appian Way as a spring board, Wild Massing placed its emphasis on urban scale massing for a 250 room resort-hotel in one of the densest parts of Hong Kong; Wanchai. Through Piranesi’s lens, the studio re-evaluated contemporary themes of sustainability that pit form against the temporal, wild against the natural. Physically and culturally the site allowed students to explore innovative methods development in Hong Kong; a city that otherwise partitions built development from park management.Projects specifically explored wild massing – massing which sees all substances (air, water, light, people, concrete and glass) as qualities, weights and densities that can be massed. The site in Wanchai rich with history, ruin and jungle allowed the students to work with multiple types of mass. The focus was to bridge the discursive regimes of Landscape and Architecture. Vegetal, pneumatic, hydraulic and luminous mass were modeled and manipulated along with architectural mass through numerous study models and drawings throughout the semester. Distinctions between methods of massing were diminished through a variety of drawings, digital and physical models that allowed students to consider these types of mass would interact with one another.Projects explored various aspects of embracing the wild such as “aeration”, “involution”, “compression”, “seepage”, among others. Each helped to add the (ing) to mass as well as understanding design methods for activating mass an agent. An agent which can instigate ecologies of inhabitation and speciation on the site.

Effective Massing

Using an industrial development in Xiamen, China slated for adaptive re-use, Effective Massing postulated ideas about the effectiveness of massing and massing effects. It required students to conceive of how a surface affects mass. Projects were constrained to work with what is traditionally the boundary between exterior and interior (the building enclosure). The conceptual underpinning of the studio was to omit the dichotomy between space and mass and liberate interior massing from exterior massing.

Effective Massing sought to reverse student’s understanding of mass as that which is solely exterior and suggest there are always two types of mass operating in any project; interior and exterior. Embracing the congestion and density of the 21st Century city (where as Latour suggests there is no longer a clear inside or outside), the studio took an invigorated interest in massing and its urban potential by realizing that the contemporary “skin job” in China may embody a new set of architectural ideas – exteriors independent of interiors. Using a regime of ideas relegated to the superficial such as texture, revolving and lenticulation projects conceived of how a new building enclosure and roof could produce large scale massing effects shifting texture to textural or revolving to in_volving.Working primarily in models, and operating within a zone that ranged from 500mm – 2m, students explored and developed the edges of four bulidings both inside and out for their potential to emit and absorb mass. Their respective existing structures, circulation systems and enclosures were intensively modified by each student-team. Different methods of articulation between both sides of the enclosure were exploited as means of exaggerating interior/exterior autonomies. Adaptive Re-use served as the anchor allowing for the detailed study of curtain walls and Poche. The accumulation of new programs and the addition of new equipment on to the existing buildings was harnessed for massing opportunities within and between buildings.

Architecture & Urban Design II (ARCH 5001)

“A mass is enveloped in its surface, a surface which is divided up according to the directing and generating lines of the mass; and this gives the mass individuality.” Le Corbusier, Vers Un Architecture (Towards A New Architecture), John Rodker, London 1931.

“While more superficial stylistic changes are easily grafted onto the façade like applied icons, such changes in elevation are never so fundamental as changes in plan and section; plan and section have been, since the development of orthoganol projection, the repositories of the animating principles that define architecture in the classical Western sense.” Peter Eisenman, Aspects of Modernism: Maison Dom-ino and the Self-Referential Sign, Oppositions 15/16 1978.

The Massing Complex

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.

Inclusive Occlusion


Architecture possesses the ability to seduce people by creating illusions. Th­is thesis focuses on how a building enclosure can deviate from the massing, or at least produce perceptual effects or optical illusions, to trigger vibration of readings which are not strictly tied to the massing of the building itself. Th­is thesis will be sited in the Former Police Married Quarters on Hollywood Road. Through its uncanny relationship with the new building enclosure, it will produce different historical cycles to create new perception and experience towards the existing building.

Seduction is essential to the remembrance of architecture and historicizing of a monument. ­Through the simultaneous moments which veil and unveil between the new enclosure and old existing building, one can only get glimpses into the building. It never enables them to understand the whole at once.