Precedent Studies

Blue Carpet

THOMAS HEATHERWICK, 2002
Newcastle unpon Tyne, United Kingdom

This project mimics an ill-fitting carpet, placed in a neglected corner of Newcastle. The stand-out blue paving injects character into the space with its interactions with the existing infrastructure; lapping up against walls, punctured to accommodate lampposts and bollard, and peeling to form public benches.

As an urban infill, the directionality of Blue Carpet’s paving can be interpreted as being influenced by the human clusters that surround it. The various nearby services act as attractor nodes, with their own circles of influence, and within them, a field condition is generated. 

An interesting exercise could be to reimagine these field lines as more fluid paths, compared to Heatherwick’s geometrical response. These field line could even affect the topography, adding an extra dimension to the urban intervention.

Circles of influence and field condition created by human clusters

Field lines from human clusters
Existing geometrical site response
Proposed fluid site response
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Bonfire Square

MAT OFFICE, 2019
Shenzhen, China

This project is situated by the beach, in a vacant barbeque lot of Xichong Resort. It exploits the site’s existing grid of round and orthogonal BBQ tables, traversing it with bright yellow frames which break the rigid layout.

When observed from plan view, Bonfire Square can be seen to be divided as a grid, with the BBQ pits serving as points on the grid. By abstracting these BBQ pits as nodal points, we can get an idea of how the installation is laid out on the grid. 

By further abstracting the art installation from a weave pattern into lines, we can also get an idea of how the installation itself is laid out on the grid. This gives rise to 3 basic lines shapes which go on to make up the form of the installation.

Abstraction of the installation form into basic geometry, which can be reconstructed into new forms

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Merida Youth Factory

SELGASCANO, 2011
Mérida, Spain

Commissioned by the Government of Extremadura, as one of three Youth Factories in the region, Youth factory Mérida serves as a safe space for the local youth to practice outdoor leisure activities and foster community. The vibrant 3000m2 site hosts a skate park, a climbing wall, an internet café, indoor studios as well as sheltered gathering spaces.

Situated on the outskirts of Mérida, this project serves an adjacent high school and its surrounding neighbourhoods. It lies within walking distance of a train station and Río Albarregas Park. 

The structure sits low in the street like its neighbours, peeking through the surrounding greenery. Its staggered columns act as frames, offering passers-by glimpses of the dynamic activities taking place on its grounds, an invitation to explore its numerous programs.

While much of the space is not explicitly programmed, the project makes use of material thresholds and landscaping to cleverly segment an apparently continuous ground plane. The resulting implicit thresholds help mitigate intersections between the variety of users the Youth Factory attracts.

Circulation

Explicit Thresholds refer to physical barriers that segregate spaces. In the context of a skate park, this goes beyond wall and fences includes steps and ramps; things that are able to restrict the flow of movement. 

Implicit Thresholds create a sense of segregation visually, but do not obstruct movement. Here, various site materials are used to create implicit thresholds. 

Explicit Thresholds
Implicit Thresholds
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LentSpace

INTERBORO, 2009
New York, United States

LentSpace is a small-budget temporary project to activate a privately-owned vacant site that is awaiting renewal. It comprises of a maze-like street tree nursery and a sculptural fence made of rotating sections.

Apart from regulating entrance to the site, the fence also doubles as public seating, and exhibition panels. The added dimension of rotation lets the benches be reconfigured into various seating arrangements and social spaces. The nursery also has stepped seating elements, as well as strategically-placed exits that coincide with commuters’ shortcut routes. 

Interesting paths develop between the eastern and western ends of the site. While the nursery is dense with movable planters, between it and the fence is an open space of similar size. This juxtaposition of dense and opens spaces welcomes many uses, and the large and small path widths create a varied walking experience. 

Path width analysis

Degree of spaciousness

City Thread

SPORTS, 2018
Chattanooga, United States

City Thread is piece of urban infrastructure that intends to catalyse interactions between the different actors in a city. It activates a neglected alleyway in downtown Chattanooga. The lime green steel tube expertly utilises its relationship with the buildings that sandwich it, forming a vibrant social space of many uses.

The back lane serves as a connector in the urban fabric, connecting to the main street and is directly accessible by the surrounded building. These have provided the site with opportunities of having transient movement. City Thread captures this passive movement and uses it to activate the space. The winding geometry is minimal, but manages to segment the alley into spaces more befitting of the human scale. These segments serve as multi-purpose program spaces, with their own unique characteristics. Between the segments are regions where the ‘thread’ rests on the ground, and this forms seating for the different user groups. This close-up experience contrasts with the open event spaces.

This installation is elegantly site-specific, engaging the existing environment, and with its geometry, helps revitalise it.

From left to right: Perceived scale of the alley, humanised scale of installation, segmentation of space

Mini Living Urban Cabin

SUN DA YONG, 2018
Beijing, China

The Urban Cabin by MINI LIVING x Sun Dayong from Penda is part of the House Vision Exhibition in Beijing and it is also the 4th installation of the The Global Village series by MINI Living. These cabins by MINI Living have the same starting point: 15m2 inhabitable footprint, and the design changes to reflect the city it travels to. 

The layout of the cabin directs individuals towards the central space of the living unit. The ceiling is decorated with golden surfaced periscopes which provides multiple views of the vicinity from the same spot. 

The furniture within the cabin is also designed in a manner that they help to directs views towards the periscopes on the roof.

The day-lit interior of the cabin can be divided into three zones; two private and one public. The private spaces are the living room/bedroom and the bathroom/kitchen while the public area is the semi open courtyard. This layout was inspired by the traditional hutongs in Beijing, as hutongs exist in between private houses and serve was where neighbours spend a fair amount of time in the day to socialize and interact with one another. 

From left to right: Roof Periscopes, Three zones; two private, one public

Presence in Hormoz

ZAV ARCHITECTS, 2017
Hormoz Island, Iran

Built on a small island in the Persian Gulf, this project was envisioned as a walkable urban space, centred around sustainability and influenced by traditional Adobe structures.

Presence in Hormoz, or Rong Cultural Centre was designed in collaboration with the locals, and programmed as a community centre. It is testament to the strengths of rammed earth construction, as it was quick to build and integrates harmoniously with the island’s geomorphology. 

As the island is only accessible via ferry, the activity surrounding Rong fluctuates with its schedule. Its large steps are the highlight of the centre, a versatile intervention serving a multiplicity of community events.

Speculated activity intensities over the course of a day

Different layout for the many activities held at the community centre

A Rolling Masterplan

JÄGNEFÄLT MILTON, 2010
Åndalsnes, Norway

Jägnefält Milton, a Swedish architecture firm, proposed a series of rolling buildings which makes use of new and existing railway lines which cut through the a small town of Åndalsnes.

Found along the Fjords of Norway, Åndalsnes is surrounded by mountains and rivers, and attracts thousands of tourists every summer. A Rolling Masterplan puts a number of programs, including a public bath, a concert hall, and a hotel, on wheels. This system provides a unique opportunity to allow the town to reorganize programmatic layouts depending on seasons and events. 

In summer, the buildings could venture out of town, bringing spaces out to rural areas which otherwise would have little access to some programs. In the winter, buildings could be pulled into the town centre, creating a temporary winter village. The hyper-flexibility of the rolling buildings also gives tourists a new town to come back to every year.

Circular flow of space from building entrances
Spatial division from building corners
Visual cones along circulation paths
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Storefront for Art & Architecture

STEVEN HOLL, 1993
New York, United States

A non-profit gallery space in Manhattan which blurs the threshold of interior and exterior, with a facade comprising of twelve vertically and horizontally pivoting panels.

Because it lies closer to the ground than its neighbours, most of which are twice its height, Storefront has a more intimate connection with passers-by. It makes full use of this, drawing them in with its dynamic facade panels. The varying degrees of openness it affords the space different levels of visual connection between pedestrians and it’s exhibits. 

These panels have been the base for many innovative and exciting exhibitions over the years, many of which riff off the unique facade elements as part of the exhibition design, letting the exhibition intrude into the street. 

Circulation

Closed panels visual connection
Open panels visual connection
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Superkilen

TOPOTEK 1 + BIG ARCHITECTS + SUPERFLEX, 2012
Copenhagen, Denmark

An urban space spanning 750 metres that promotes integration in the midst of ethnic diversity, designed in collaboration with local residents and associations. 

In a district known for its high crime rates, Superkilen was built as means for residents to take back the park and establish a new image for the neighbourhood. Divided into three zones: the Red Square for sports, the Black Market for food and the Green Park as a children’s playground. Sixty nationalities are represented in the project via eclectic street furniture and follies. 

The large mix of programs and activities concentrated within the site, and its placement in a predominantly residential area makes the park a great social condensor. The adjacency of activity spaces is accentuated with complimentary street furniture which encourages mixity between programs. 

Uses and activities

Left: Basketball/hockey/football court with ramps along the sides for skaters and spectators
Right: Seating areas that double as skatepark features

TKTS Times Square

PERKINS EASTMAN + CHOI ROPHIA , 2010
Åndalsnes, Norway

TKTS Booth is a ticket booth that triggered the revitalisation of Times Square, with its roof that takes the form of a grandstand that views the urban cityscape. 

A marvel of glass and steel, this ticket booth was prefabricated and placed onsite to avoid the difficulties of construction in the bustling environment. The grandstand tapers in response to its site, and it is fully lit with LEDs, ending off in a canopy for the ticketing booth operating beneath it. 

The booth capitalizes on the spectacle of Times Square – one of the most famous urbanscapes in the world, and at the same time, is a spectacle in itself, a microcosm of human activity. Its iconic figure creates an interplay of the roles actor and spectator, between its users and pedestrians. 

Activity in the heart of Times Square

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Populating the grandstand

Undefined Playground

B. U. S. ARCHITECTURE, 2016
Seoul, South Korea

A modular, lightweight, adaptable steel structure with multiple configurations that allows youths to manipulate public space to suit their needs. 

Inspired by observing children play – ‘kids know that any place can become a playground as long as there’s a ball’. B.U.S Architecture designed a mobile medium where the boundaries of the playing field are left up to the imagination of the users. This simple idea brings up versatility and freedom, elements which tend be lacking in the midst of busy city life. 

Undefined Playground comprises of three triangular segments, joined together by their corners with two hinges. This allows the ‘playground’ to be folded and unfolded in plan. The permutation study above examines the myriad of possible spaces different extents of unfolding create.

Permutation study

The Yellow Pavillion

ARCHITECTURE FOR HUMANS, 2019
Pristina, Kosovo

Sited on a cluttered, chaotic street in the city, The Yellow Pavilion is an urban intervention aiming to pull commuters out of their speedy transits to stop and enjoy the space. 

Visually striking, the bright yellow steel frames attract pedestrians and add vibrancy to the area, engaging users with the many activities it is able to support. The intervention comprises of four structures, set in a row, and has played host to basketball games, photoshoots, exhibitions and even a public debate with the city’s mayor in attendance. 

The simple infrastructure creates visual sight-lines that help to illustrate the different tiers of activity through the designers’ usage of hierarchy. Different heights of the pavilion are essential in creating visual sight-lines that help to vary users’ experiences and perceptions of the street. 

Sightlines and view cones

Where the River Runs

PENDA, 2015
Wuhan, China

This installation for China’s the International Garden Expo is a meandering maze of sunken paths that puts visitors through the ebbs and flows of water in an imaginary river.

With the goal of drawing attention to the global water crisis, Penda designed and undulating grassy topography, intersected by winding paths that lead to a central atrium. Visitor are invited to interact with the installation by plantings seeds into various planters along the paths, an act mirroring how water in a river brings life to its surroundings. 

The varied topography of the meadow gives visitors a dynamic visual experience as they pass through the installation. Views between paths widen and narrow with the rise and fall of the terrain.

With four different exits on its perimeter, the installation provides visitors with many options. First-time visitors keen on exploring the paths maybe go back and forth between exits, while picnic-goers may head straight for the atrium. 

All possible paths through the installation

Routes of the Explorer; permutations of different entrances and paths
Routes of the Picnic-goes; shortest routes from each entrance to atrium to exit
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