Infrastructure in Place

We investigate an alternative approach in urban design. We remain critical to a deductive reasoning which presuppose particular solutions to problems around the study site according to preferred modes of functional zoning. Alternative methods are sought considering urban analysis, objectives and urban space.

We are doubtful of compositional unities which affirm order and stability. We encourage multiplicity and indeterminacy with all their forms of divergence, ambiguity and transformation.

Urban form is portrayed as an accumulation of information, material substances and time, forming compacted or loosely arranged agglomerations. We observe this phenomenon, which has existed for centuries and which this project is imposed upon.

We emphasise less on the notion of place-making as genius loci than on space production. Producing space is characterised by a dispersion of events which remains strategically open. Architecture design does not submit to finite conditions but circumscribes fields of possibilities, open to entice other forms of ‘reading and writing’.

The studio is built on three basic urban issues: place, infrastructure and envelop. The traditional linear sequence of analysis and design is abandoned to allow working in parallel. Thinking on several levels and across many scales is required in each exercise.

InCity: Urban Complex in Wuhan

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InCity challenges the conventional urban architectural design at three levels. Firstly, it implements the “Infrasturalism” concept in the largest state-owned industrial community, stimulating a transition from socialist comprehensive enterprise community to city life. The building complex operates as a “platform” or “infrastructure” to support a changing diversity of the community. Secondly, it is designed by Integrated Design Process (IDP) involving a variety of professionals starting from early design stage. Thirdly, it actively uses passive energy design methods to respond to extreme climatic conditions of the city Wuhan, which is characterized by very hot summers and cold winters. In short, the project’s originality lies in its operation as “a city” within a city, which means that the project’s scale provides dynamic possibilities involving public spaces, multiple functions, pedestrian networks and job opportunities associated with the largest national pre-industrial estate in China.

Founded in 1954, Wuhan Iron and Steel Corporation is one of the largest state-owned factories in China and one of the 500 largest enterprises in the world. The factory, which is located in Qingshan, is an enclosed and self-sustained compound where employees enjoyed not only permanent work but also access to education, medical care, social and cultural facilities of all kinds. Wuhan Iron and Steel Corporation is also considered as a model of socialist enterprise. The Qingshan InCity project design started at a difficult time when the industry was closing down and tens of thousands of employees were either forced to retire or were dismissed. This project aims to re-establish a center of community, linking Qingshan back to the city, to provide jobs for small businesses and to sustain the memory and identity of the place. Apart from social and economic significances, the project also contributes to the following areas:

1. New urban morphology: Infrastructuralism in urban density

Although the transformation of urban density and the concept of creating a sustainable city  have long been implemented as part of the city policy, in-depth research on the theoretical understanding of new urban complexity and its impact on spatial quality based on newly-built cases have remained lacking. As a participatory design project, the Qingshan InCity project addressed the importance of the circulation system, the prototype of elevated public spaces in different scales, as well as internal and external interactions, thereby creating comfort and human atmosphere. Moreover, the project demonstrated a morphological difference between traditional high-density urban complexes and the new ones. High density buildings do not automatically create an adequate program mixture if the architecture does not have an infrastructural characteristic. Spatial atmosphere remains the key to the development of a sustainable city where people can enjoy the benefits of walking and commuting comfort and human atmosphere. Moreover, the project demonstrated a morphological difference between traditional high-density urban complex and the new ones. High density does not automatically create a program mixture if the architecture does not have an infrastructure characteristic. Spatial atmosphere remains the key to the development of a sustainable city where people can enjoy the benefits of walking and commuting.

2. IDP as design methodology

The traditional design process is no longer suitable for green design. Therefore, Integrated Design Process (IDP) was implemented for this project. We, the architects, became team leaders rather than form-givers, whereas other engineers played an active role  at the early design stages. The main strategies of IDP include goal-driven performance, collaborative effort, systematic thinking, interactive process and whole-life cost analysis. Key assistive measures, such as performance (target setting), integrated design team (staffing), quantitative environmental analysis (simulation), workshop (teamwork), and database (products) for green buildings were essential to the success of the building construction.

3. Passive energy design for inland city Wuhan

Wuhan is characterized by very cold winters and extremely warm summers. We proposed a maintenance energy reduction of 40%-50% while preserving  a high outdoor-indoor thermal comfort. Green architecture should not only rely on mechanical and engineering technology. Passive energy design can reduce a large proportion of cooling and heating energy by developing the layout, construction, and material defined in architectural design phases. Major design efforts were found in south-facing massing, shading device, compact forming, calculating minimum window to wall ratio, glazing with high thermal performance, good insulation, and incorporating high-level air tightness among others.

Instruments of Infrastructure

FOCUS
Geography Landscape Infrastructure

WHERE
Central Harbour Front 

RESEARCH & PROPOSITIONS
Infrastructuralism in architecture is not exclusively used for high-density circumstances. However, this term only has a substantial meaning in a high-density circumstance. Klingman defined Infrastructuralism as an analogy of architecture (2000, p. 25). He states that “Infrastructuralism intends to establish a new set of parameters, by shifting the focus of architecture from the static implications of form, to the variables of ephemeral event structures as the shaping forces of urbanism, Infrastructuralism identifies with the existence of an invisible real.” Infrastructure lacks a fixed identity.

Infrastructural strategies in architecture require the implementation of programmatic efficiency, which yields “operational” instead of “formal” effects. Thus, Infrastructuralism highly emphasizes the performance of a building, which may be functionally smooth as an infrastructure.

Hong Kong restricts settlements on steep topography (landforms) and seas, and has already enforced an intensive and compact culture in architecture and infrastructure. Infrastructuralism in Hong Kong is characterized by intensive interactions among buildings, infrastructure, and topography.

We should observe problems occurring in our area. Thus, we investigate an alternative approach for building design and remain critical in presupposing particular solutions according to the preferred building plan modes. Alternative methods are sought through the convergence of urban analyses, objectives, and building forms.

First, we are not convinced of the compositional unity that affirms order and stability. We encourage multiplicity and indeterminacy with all forms of divergence, ambiguity, and transformation process.

Second, a building is depicted as an accumulation of information, material substances, and time, thereby forming compacted or loosely arranged agglomerations. Hence, we observe this phenomenon that has been existing for centuries. This project is implemented on the basis of this phenomenon.

Third, we emphasize the notion of place-making as genius loci less than the production of space, which is characterized by a dispersion of events that remain strategically open. Architecture design does not defer to finite conditions, but begins to circumscribe fields of possibilities and is open to enticing other forms of “reading and writing.”

 

Long Lasting, Low Energy, High Comfort Architecture​

Principal Investigator: Beisi JIA (Co-PI), Jaehoon LEE (Co-PI), Yiwei LIU (Co-I)
Funding body: Government Matching Grant Scheme (6th Phase)

Abstract

Optimization of energy efficiency in buildings becomes most effective only when it is achieved from an early design stage with integrated design strategies. Energy efficiency optimization can be achieved by integrating design methodologies for optimum indoor air quality and thermal and daylight environment with the bigger aim of the greatest utilization of solar energy, maximum natural ventilation, optimum insulation performance, and interior environment comfort. As a result, only design methodologies that consider environmental performance in terms of architectural mass and layout, building envelope and elevation, and plans and sections, can realize architecture with the greatest energy efficiency with the lowest investment. In this research, we suggest that, instead of relying on prevalent mechanical approach, such as enhancing existing insulation and airtightness, adopting renewable energy, or improving mechanical ventilation system efficiency, we optimize building performance, at each design stage, in terms of daylighting and insolation, natural ventilation, insulation and energy, and interior environment, ultimately to develop an energy efficiency optimization integrated design strategy based on architectural typology and building uses.

Objectives

This study aims to develop design tools that can produce a 20% energy-saving effect with no increase in construction cost. This can be done by adding a performance-verification process to a conventional process in the early stage of design, which used to be done based on designers’ intuition, and turning it into an integrated design.

Results

In the bigger picture, the energy-performance optimization of design technology using green parametric BIM software heralds a paradigm transition that changes the existing hardware-based energy-saving technologies to software-based ones. As IT-based integrated design solutions are developed, higher value-added business design technologies will be owned independently, which will play a bridgehead role to pioneer in the global sustainable architectural design market.

Outputs

  • Beisi Jia, Yingying Jiang, (2014). Industrialization and Customization in the Housing Industry of Japan — A Study on Sekisui and Toyota. (in Chinese with English abstract) ISSN 0529-1399.
  • Beisi Jia, (2014). Master Class – Building Permanency: Architectural Education on Open Building 3 (Chinese with English abstract) ISSN 1000-8373.
  • Yiwei Liu, Beisi Jia, (2014). “Defining Forms of Collaborative Living in Modern China”, UIA 2014 proceeding, Architecture Otherwhere, Durban, South Africa, ISBN 978-0-86970-783-8.
  • Yiwei Liu, Beisi Jia, (2013). Hierarchical Organizations and Shared Responsibilities in the Low-Income Community of Dapeng in Shenzhen, China. International Journal of Property Sciences, 3(1).
  • Beisi Jia, (2013) High Comfort Low Energy, ISSN 1672-9080.
  • Beisi Jia, (2013) From Kinetic Arts, Open Building to Design Projects in Architectural School, ISBN 978-7-112-15331-2.
  • Beisi Jia, (2013) From Artistic Perspective observe Architecture, ISBN 978-7-112-15331-2.
  • Beisi Jia, (2013) Comparative research on early collective housing typology in colonial cities in Chian, ISSN 1674-4144.

Anticipated Impact

An integrated design strategy does not simply suggest a methodology, but is a parametric green BIM software program that can work as a design tool using genetic algorithms to conduct environmental performance analyses and create design alternatives that adopt designers’ integrated designs in early design stage.

Searching for the History of Future

The problems of urban development after Second World War II were largely caused by the design pedagogy which was over dominated by function. As the program changes fast, the buildings built in this period are inflexible and inadaptable, and proved too costly to be upgraded from both ecological and economical point of view. The rapid and large scale urban development in China has to avoid the similar mistake by learning the mistakes find new design pedagogy which should address the essential quality of cities and buildings which sustain for at least hundreds of years

This studio is a study of long lasting quality of buildings and cities independent from the program, and deeply rooted in the thinking of time frame.

Architecture is a question of managing resources. When we speak of quality, therefore, the biggest challenge for a building today is longevity. Construction itself represents just a very brief aspect in the lifecycle of a building; its operation phase last much longer.
For that reason, we have to break with the old way of thinking about a building purely in terms of its intended use. The primacy of fulfilling a use has to be replaced by beauty as the central objective of architectural design, because beauty is the quality which leads to the social and cultural acceptance of a building. Social and cultural acceptance are the most important premises for a building’s longevity.
A long-term perspective of more than a hundred years puts construction costs in a different light. The focus shifts from optimizing building costs to a more enduring preservation of values.

(Dietmar Eberle and Pia Simmendinger: From City to House – A design Theory, ETH Zurich, GTA Verlag 2007)

Architecture & Urban Design III (ARCH 5001) – Three Movements Towards an Open Transformation

Studio Summary:  

The students will be invited to develop an architectural concept addressing individualization and change through space and time.

Any architectural settlement should basically meet the user needs. Those needs are different from one user to the other. And the needs of each user change through time. If the building wants to serve its occupants, the building has to accommodate change as well, without any destruction or demolition according to the sustainability agenda.

The program also addresses two issues in architecture:

The issue of time: To ensure that a building can last as long as the physical structures allows, it has to be flexible and adaptable enough to accommodate changes of uses, circumstances, and as many as unforeseeable matters as possible, arising from the building’s service period.

The issue of people: the real people beyond any statistics, function or program of use made by programming. If pluralism is the word characterizing the conceptions and behaviors of the people of today, no building can ever be satisfactory without interaction by everyday use. People collectively and individually look for opportunities to change and adapt to their environment.

The studio program invites ideas of the active, lively, dynamic, energizing spatial instrument which is transformative responding to the change of activity, climate, need or purpose in every day life. The interaction between the events and structure is constant phenomenon, which invites active transformation of form and spaces. Architecture is not monument, but the process of operation.

Architecture & Urban Design I

  1. Architecture is not for architects: Beauty as culture dimension

Architecture is always public and, unlike art, cannot simply be eliminated. A building has to be socially accepted and culturally appreciated first and foremost on the level of perception. Correspondingly, architecture is subject to all the demands of pleasing. This pleasing never takes place on the level of individual taste, however, but in coming to terms with collective acceptance. The challenge lies in responding to this collective perception, which is essentially based on conventions anchored locally or, in other words, in positioning oneself in accordance with public awareness

  1. A building as the sum of technical subsystems

If we assume a useful life of more than a hundred years for a building, then it makes sense to divide its individual architectural elements into five levels by the various useful lives of these subsystems:

  • Place: The surroundings of a building which define the place – consisting of topography, meteorology, infrastructure, culture and the people who shape the place – is a system with a useful life of far more than a hundred years.
  • Structure: The supporting system and the safety ascribed to the supporting system, including escape stairs, circulations, cores and so on, have useful lives of more than a hundred years.
  • Shell: façade and roof, as well as the main lines of the building services, last fifty to a hundred years.
  • Programme: the way in which a building is used – residence, work, leisure and retail – is subject to changes which, as we know from our own experiences, are on a scale of twenty years.
  • Infill – The elements, materials and surfaces of the inside of a building are the parts most obvious to the users of the building, but because of the mechanical demands on them they usually have useful lives of just ten years.

A building with an ambition to become a hundred years old or more will not be achieved if the relatively short life of its intended use service as the point of departure for the architectural approach.

The consequences of such a perspective are:

  • As the most important means of architectural expression, the structure of the building generates public space. Public space is, at the same time, the space which gives the building its specific quality and characteristics.
  • The prerequisites for ensuring that ta building’s value is preserved are that it be possible to convert and adapt it to changing uses.
  • Separating inside and outside leads to different disciplines. Interior design, whose field of activity is limited to the levels of program and surfaces, intervenes in already existing structures,  whereas architecture concentrates on building within existing structures, in view of expected demographic changes.
  1. Objectives of this studio

The architect’s true core competence lies in the ability to design, that is, in the coordination and integrating of various subfields. This includes the ability to think simultaneously on different levels and scales and to structure process accordingly. The question of the core competence of the discipline of architecture thus clearly lies in the ability to design and relates to physical reality, which trusts in the beauty of the three-dimensional in its urban, immobile dimension.

For architects this means working on the development of new types demonstrating a longer life-span, lower energy-use, high social and cultural acceptance, and neutrality in terms of the building’ use.

The studio is built on 5 exercises in which the themes place, structure, shell, programme and materiality are examined individually and together. The final exercise unites all the thematic areas into a genuine project design.

Three Movements toward an Open Transformation

The students will be invited to develop an architectural concept addressing individualization and change through space and time.

Any architectural settlement should basically meet the user needs. Those needs are different from one user to the other. And the needs of each user change through time. If the building wants to serve its occupants, the building has to accommodate change as well, without any destruction or demolition according to the sustainability agenda.

The studio program invites ideas of the active, lively, dynamic, energizing spatial instrument which is transformative responding to the change of activity, climate, need or purpose in every day life. The interaction between the events and structure is constant phenomenon, which invites active transformation of form and spaces. Architecture is not monument, but the process of operation.

The studio is not interested in a comprehensive or complete design, or a “design for everything.” It calls for proposals of an instrument in constant movement, strategically, and technically offering form and space to be undetermined, undersigned, open for mutation in time, and open for interpretation, again with physical interaction with people. To be more provocative, the project brief calls for ideas which address:

  • Interactive rather than passive
  • Operative and instrumental rather than objective and complete
  • Structural rather than compositional

Anti-XL Ruin: Breaking Bigness, Segregation, Diversification, Asychronization in the Process of Architecture

In this thesis, the perspective is on the lifespans and regeneration of these simultaneously built homogeneous gigantic containers with same life spans, due to same material and construction method applied on these buildings. Each of these buildings, with hierarchically top-down centralized servicing system, vertical circulations and structures, actually allow little capacity for partial redevelopment or demolition. The impact of these large scale ONE-OFF DEMOLITION in the future, informed by today renewal process in horizontally big villages, is predictably big and undesirable in cultural, social or economical way. It is unsustainable. It is a foreseeable crisis.

They have already transcended a single big building. They are in real urban scale. They are even EXTRA LARGE. Here, architecture itself is a process instead of a frozen object. Provided that the high density of population & the urgency of rapid development are inevitable & irreversible, by considering structure, material, economy of the whole life of the buildings, SEGREGATION, DIVERSIFICATION & ASYNCHRONIZATION are the corresponding proposed strategies for breaking down the Bigness. It is about phrasing, material diversity, partial redevelopment and flexibility. The thesis here is to find out the new physical order for achieving ‘BIG’, or more precisely, ‘COMPLEXITY’.