Responsive Structures

Introduction

Hong Kong’s diverse and international festival culture plays a vital role in defining its identity as a liberal, cosmopolitan city. Especially in times of political uncertainty, nurturing this tradition and its future development becomes of high significance.

Located on the east side of Lantau, Peng Chau increasingly attracts visitors who are interested in its historical village dating back from the Qing Dynasty. Kept aside from the last century’s urban expansion, Peng Chau retains an authentic tradition of festivals, which is rare in today’s modern metropolis of Hong Kong. However, when culture is packaged to be ‘consumed’ by a mass of visitors, the fragile local ecosystem and the cultural tradition is at threat of being eradicated. Tourism and heritage are often seen as conflicting entities. But in fact, the risk of suffocation from the local communities is not necessarily related to the number of visitors per se, but to the lack of care in the management and infrastructural installation. When planned well, culture and touristic installation have the capacity to positively nurture the social interactions and to act as a hinge between the young and the old generation.
Our goal is to prepare Peng Chau for future growth while creating an opportunity to strengthen its identity and cultural heritage.

Content

We use cultural festivals, such as the local dragon boat race, as a vessel to investigate Peng Chau’s history, technology and community. Through a systematic analysis of site and culture, structure and craft we will define 10 briefs at 10 locations along the waterfront that address the challenges and opportunities of Peng Chau’s cultural development. The students will engage in a series of workshops that target context mapping, parametric thinking and prototypical development in order to achieve highly articulate, critical and comprehensive design proposals.
Teams of two students are asked to design an adaptive infrastructure for festival events with a permanent and temporary component working in tandem throughout the year. The challenge is to minimize the negative impact on the island while maximizing the richness of contextual and architectural qualities, combining local traditional craft with modern technology.

Learning outcome

  • To think critically about the impact of cultural events on the local identity
  • To promote a deep sensitivity to a site, its history, community and culture
  • To foster structural innovation through experimental design and physical construction
  • To create holistic, realistic documentation and prototyping of architectural spaces

Design Shaping

In Year 1 we were studying the relationship of the human body to their immediate surroundings and how proportions affect the functional aspect of design. In Year 2 we will expand that objective to a larger environment and will study the relationships of built environment and natural environment.

The objective of this year is to learn how to 1. Observe and draw a phenomenon, 2. Translate it into a conceptual idea in form of models and sketches, 3. Create architectural drawings of the design up to a detail level.

Every building is bound to a specific environment, which is influenced by all kinds of natural phenomena. Standardisation and proprietary solutions of the construction industry have negated the specific relationship of a building to its surrounding with the result that we build similar in Nordic climates as we build in tropical environments. The studio will be an introduction to a critical discourse about designing in a specific environmental context from an technological point of view. We will investigate techniques and technologies that deal with the relationship of building and nature in the context of Hong Kong.

The HKU campus will be the basis of the investigation. Students will start off with a chosen topic and observe, analyse and draw how those topics affect the building and the external and internal spaces. Based on that topic, students will develop an idea for a specific architectural intervention on campus, that either enforces the topic or counter balances it or takes it as an inspiration for spatial experimentation. The program of the design intervention will be given by the studio supervisors, but will not exceed the size of a small pavilion of 150 sqm.

Blade Runner

Thesis Abstract

Blade Runner (1982) and its sequel Blade Runner 2049 (released in 2017) are set in a dystopian future where humans live in a high-tech but low-life environment with synthetic humans called replicants as their slaves. The film was regarded as one of the best science fiction films for speculating a retrofit future. Similarly, architects always concern with contemporary issues and project a future. The thesis explores the potential of a film serving as a site of analysis and speculation for an architectural proposition. If both film and site can become a territory subject, what are the implications of relying on a fictitious territory as a generator for the design of spaces?

Based on the film context, the analysis focuses on the timeline, storyboarding and scenes where the story plays out and then a missing scene is identified as the potential of an expanded story. The design is to construct a narrative with a greater scope than real projects. It is a design of the universe, a speculative reality with urbanism, architecture, interiority along with characters all serve as components of the narrative.

The Drawing Games

Thesis Abstract

The project questions representations that focus on the physicality of matter, and introduces a representation that sees architecture in new spectacles. Exploring how drawings capture architecture that  is invisible to the eye, through the lens of sports. And further on how the drawn lines connect things, and allow that to become a basis of the author’s thinking, questioning and proposition.

The project aims to bring in discussions of architecture’s strength as an intellectual act instead of a built object. How drawings work as a methodology instead of an artefact. Where drawing as the translation of the our thinking, is itself architecture in action.

Making Architecture: Shophouse

Introduction

Under the unprecedented influence of the COVID-19 pandemic, this design studio was conducted entirely online. The use of digital media, referencing and student interaction was incorporated to foster an online studio environment.

Hong Kong is based on trade and commerce. Subsequently, many commercial typologies have emerged. The Tong Lau is its most prominent Hong Kong specific type of the shophouse, consisting of a ground floor shop and an upper floor which is used for storage and/or the owner’s living quarter. A courtyard is located either at the backend or in the centre.

This project introduces context, program and volume for architectural design. Students were asked to work in thee neighbourhoods with different topologies, interacting with their neighbours and the urban slope. The studio was focused on two streams of output: A portfolio, documenting the separate steps using multimedia of photography, text, sketches and technical drawings, as well as digital drawings, which were references to a collective plan displaying the interaction and creating a sense of team effort in the neighbourhood design.

Content

1 Analysis. The first exercise focused on observation and abstraction. Students learned from an existing context by observing, studying and drawing. Students chose any shop in Hong Kong (hawker stalls, wet market, shopping mall etc.), took one specific spatial photo in b/w of that space and drew an isometric drawing, a section, and write a 100 work analytic text.

2 Speculation. The reference project only acted as a starting point to critically investigate a spatial idea and its potentials. Students sketched a speculative section and wrote a 100-word concept about its purpose and function/performance.

3 Variations. Each student proposed three options for a single shop focusing and emphasizing aspects of their speculative section. This created an important transition from abstract drawing to a scaled and functional architectural intervention.

4 Design. Three imaginary urban sites were given with specific site conditions. Each student designed a spatial concept for their Tong Lau based on the previous steps 1-3, interacting with their neighbours and taking into consideration aspects of the environment, context, tectonics and construction.

5 Detail. This exercise focuses on synthesizing the conceptual idea of the shophouse into a constructive detail. A pars pro toto emphasized the consistency of design from big idea to small detail. Students summarized their shophouse in one particular spatial detail at scale 1:20.

Learning outcome

+ develop an intellectual and consistent argument for the development of design
+ understand the impact of structure and construction on the design
+ develop a project based on creative and innovative use of drawings and models
+ design with study models on various scales