[GSD Studio] the Two Sides


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GSD 2012 Fall Option Studio- Common Framework by Christopher Lee

The project is situated in the CBD site of east Xiamen. Architecturally, it rethinks the space for mixing working, living, and cooperation through manipulating the urban dominant type- Qilou. From the social point of view, the project is also the manifestation of the political circumstance between Xiamen (China) and Kinmen (Taiwan).
The original park proposed by HOK cuts the site into two halves. As the interpretation of shop houses in macro scale, two rolls of residential bars, which situated in between HOK buildings from each side, stretched inward and divided existing fabric into different urban pockets, leaving a large void space on ground level. The circular shape of the void area creates a superficial symbol of unification. The office units are scattered in the circular void area. Each office unit consists of an exterior space, a transitional corridor space, an interior space, and a shared space in the back. This is another interpretation of the shop house.
Considering the issue of Cross-Strait cooperation, the project argues against the sameness of conventional CBD and the notion of unification. Though its architecture creates an absolute and trans-scaling generic common framework for the entire site, the use of different landscape and variations in accessibility creates a softness and programmatic difference between the two sides. Within the common framework, the two sides interact. Yet through acknowledging and respecting the differences, the two sides gain benefits without decreasing their own values. That is the essence of cooperation.

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[GSD Studio] the Two Sides

  1. 1. Two Sides and One Common Framework by Roy LinGSD 2012 Fall option studio: Common Framework , Christopher Lee
  2. 2. The Dilemmaof Cooperation
  3. 3. China TaiwanThe relationship between Mainland China and Taiwan has been a matter of contention ever since the Nationalists retreated from the Mainlandduring the Chinese Civil War in 1949 and settled in Taiwan region. Even till today there has never been a clear political consensus accepted by bothgovernments and their people. Despite this political divide however, people of both sides share much in common in terms of culture, religion, geog-raphy and history.
  4. 4. ChinaXiamen Kinmen TaiwanWhile political intractability remains, financial and economic cooperation has served to create closer ties between the countries.In the region ofthe Taiwan Straights these closer economic ties took the form of the “Three Minor Links” agreement between Xiamen,Kinmen Island and TaiwanIsland which came into effect in 2001.This agreement transformed Xiamen and Kinmen from hostile frontier outposts into closely interrelated eco-nomic entities. This had profound repercussions for the eastern part of Xiamen Island as it changed from being military no-mans-land to an areadesirable for development.
  5. 5. 1980s 1990s 2000As part of the Xiamen Master plan for 2020, a Central Business District was proposed that would be a center of economic activity in this newly con-nected region.
  6. 6. With the aim of attracting investors from Taiwan and stimulating regional economic growth the building of the Cross-Strait Business District seemsto fit neatly into the narrative of political expediency for economic progress.
  7. 7. However, within the relationship between China and Taiwan, business is never entirely free from politics. The conditional harmony relies on poli-cies that are carefully constructed to guarantee a win-win situation in which economical independence and political sovereignty would be un-harmed. This picture was taken at the 3rd Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement earlier this year.
  8. 8. From the government’s side, this is seen as a major improvement in China-Taiwan relations, yet the agreement was based on the “One China Princi-ple”, which was interpreted differently by both sides and aroused great controversy in Taiwan. The picture shows the protest against ECFA in Taiwan.People were opposing this “under-the-table” movement and worried about the transparency of further actions, and were also concerned about thefairness/balance of the clause details. Referendum was proposed, but not accepted.
  9. 9. It is this kind of ambiguity that both regions have lived in, suffered from,and in an attempt to find balance, built their relationships. However, someworry that economic interests are overshadowing political considerations, and independency and sovereignty might be at risk. One cannot denysuch concern, especially when seeing such slogans of propaganda like the giant “One Country Two Systems, Unifying China” billboard that waserected along the coast. Architecture of course cannot solve political or economic problems, but in finding meaning from the idea of the city, Archi-tecture should embody the political, cultural and social circumstances that the city is manifestation of.
  10. 10. The Dominant Space of Cooperation
  11. 11. Qilou, the eastern version of the arcade, is a common architectural feature in Xiamen, mostly seen in the shop houses that line (Zhong Shang Ave).It is a reflection of local climate, colonial urban intervention, and a programmatic mix that is typical of the region. It is not only an architecturaltypology, but also a common memory shared by the people.
  12. 12. Qilou is a procession of shop fronts, set back from the street on the ground floor, creating a covered transitional space between the traffic of thestreet and the interior. The semi-exterior space shelters people from direct sunlight, rain, and wind, therefore creates a comfortable zone, especiallyin sub-tropical region, for circulation, expansion of interiors, and spontaneous gatherings.
  13. 13. The party walls perpendicular to the street define different units. Enclosed between the party walls are the shop spaces, each of which can vary inoccupancy and dimension.
  14. 14. Regardless of the different configuration of the street and the parcels, the Qilou space remains linear and consistent, while the “pockets” that it con-nects provide diversity.
  15. 15. An architecture that has a similar relationship between consistency and diversity is the 21st Century Museum by SANAA. Consistency is estab-lished through the use of a strongly defined circular void space which acts as a plinth.
  16. 16. Within this void, a variety of different volume rooms allow programmatic and spatial diversity. The perfect circular shape ties the whole projecttogether and gives clear legibility while containing the richness of the urban grain.
  17. 17. Like the plinth of 21 Century Museum, Qilou also works as a continuous void running through the periphery of entire block, connecting a varietyof urban pockets and giving the buildings within a sense of unity. In addition, by changing the geometry of Qilou, spaces can be given specific char-acteristics or organizations.
  18. 18. The Frameworkfor Cooperation
  19. 19. The conventional idea of CBD is a symbol of the accumulation of capital, and a landmark to attract investors.However, it does not respond to urban fabric. In fact, it becomes the indifferent, homogeneous, or even non-human-scale fabric of the mega-plots.Instead of taking the idea of placing a CBD for granted, the design aimed to use Qilou and shop house as an urban framework to rethink the mix-use of living and working, the space for collaboration, and the space for the emerging creative industry.
  20. 20. The master plan for the Cross-Straits Business District, designed by HOK, proposes, financial skyscrapers to be located around the center, somemix-use of commercial and business buildings are surrounding the central area; residential towers situate on the periphery of the CBD.
  21. 21. There is a park at the center of the CBD, originally designed as the connection of inland to the waterfront space, cutting the region into two sides.
  22. 22. The project takes the HOK proposal as a given condition which inadvertently can be read as representing the political situation between China andTaiwan.
  23. 23. Dealing with the park, my project transforms this plan-o-metric symbol of connection and flow into its latent role as a creator of segregation, whereit acts as a metaphor for the situation between Mainland China and Taiwan.
  24. 24. The large parcel at the center with the park cutting through was chosen as the site of the project.
  25. 25. To create an even field for cooperation, the shape of the park has been altered a little in order to make the two sides of the plot geometrically similar,and quantitatively “equal”.Relating back to the deep structure of the shop house, the park can be seen as the traffic between two rows of shop houses. And in this project, theby-passing traffic remains.
  26. 26. By superimposing the deep structure of shop house, several ‘walls’ from the opposite sides stretch inward and enclosed series of urban ‘pockets ‘ inwhich different programs or spatial characteristics can be housed.
  27. 27. The original HOK buildings, like many other CBDs, are objects which have little relationship to one another. Within this banal variety of objects, acertain diversity akin to the adjacent shops of the Qilou could be found. Therefore, the position of the ‘walls’ is adjusted to ‘frame’ existing buildingsand to turn the lack of relationships into diverse urban pockets.
  28. 28. Like the use of the circular plinth in 21st Century Museum, changing the geometry shape of the void space into a perfect circle gives the project avisually strong identity. The transitional circular space, like the Qilou space in shop houses, is where the interaction and collaboration are takingplace.
  29. 29. Small and low-rise boxes of office space will be scattered in the area leaving permeable pathways for people to move from one end to the other, andaccess the diverse urban pockets on the periphery. The shape of the circle is, in fact, almost irrelevant to its functionality, yet is a powerful icon thatgives the superficial, nostalgic sense of ‘unification’ in appearance.
  30. 30. In the park separating the two sides, several civic programs are placed.
  31. 31. Cultural Museum Taiwan Administrative Travel Agency & Pier Exhibition Hall The Straits Library Conference Rooms Activities Hall Xiamen AdministrativeOn the top right is the Taiwanese administrative office at the end point of the pier. Next to the Taiwanese administrative is the Cross-Straits CulturalExhibition Hall. At the center where both sides are closest to each other is a library.
  32. 32. The Straits LibraryThe library houses the knowledge of history and culture of the two sides. Perhaps only through knowledge can the ambiguity and the dilemma bebroken through. As you might notice the thinness of the library, it doesn’t need that much of space to hold the knowledge of such short period ofmodern history, but instead, it requires the wisdom gained from those knowledge to better respect each other. The library is critical of this politicalmanifestation, yet it is left un-designed, like the solution that is unclear and requires more effort. Or perhaps the ambiguity itself would be the onlyanswer.
  33. 33. The Spacefor Cooperation
  34. 34. Like the deep structure of Qilou, each office unit has its own sequence of exterior space, transitional corridor space, interior space, and in somecases, back alleys.
  35. 35. By flipping the units along the corridor, it creates differentiation and establishes a certain rhythm.
  36. 36. Between every two clusters, shared courtyards are created. Degrees of access and privacy are created by using different types of landscape.
  37. 37. The residential units learn from the success of the Qilou in combining work areas and private living spaces in close proximity.
  38. 38. The open area, like in the Qilou space, is used for circulation and some shared or flexible use such as freelance working space, while more steadyand private rooms are enclosed by the thicken partitions where the service facilities are located.A double-height space is also introduced in the common area for more visual interaction and transparency.
  39. 39. The IdentitiesWhile its architecture creates an absolute and multi-scalar common framework for the entire site, the landscape marks identity and creates differ-ence between the two sides.
  40. 40. The west part has one large underground parking space that is shared and centrally governed.On the East part, each residential tower has its own underground parking entrance and is responsible for its own management. Residents are free tochoose either side to live. One is likely to live on one side and work on the other.
  41. 41. The landscape in the office areas is composed of productive plant species from both Xiamen and Taiwan region. These are fruit trees and vegetableand rice beds.
  42. 42. Ground Screening BarrierAccording to the different characteristic, the vegetation is categorized into several types: the ground species, the short species for barriers, and thetall grain species for screening.
  43. 43. Example of the use of landscape
  44. 44. Through the facilities and landscape in the park, the two sides interact with each other. The boulevards, representing the official movements, areextended from the opposite sides and meet at the central facilities. From these facilities, one could be re-directed to the other side. The thinner path-ways, representing more spontaneous and unofficial movements, depart from one side of the boulevards, slightly touch the other side and then turnback to where they came from.
  45. 45. Forestry species from Xiamen and Taiwan are planted on the fields adjacent to either side.
  46. 46. The regions where the different pathways overlap are the rice fields. Rice is the most common productive crop in both Xiamen and Taiwan. The ricepaddies are shared and cultivated by both sides.
  47. 47. To conclude, the project rethinks the space for working, living, and cooperation through manipulating the urban dominant type;Qilou. It is themanifestation of the political circumstance between Xiamen (China) and Kinmen (Taiwan).The project argues against the use of the generic CBD as a representation of unification. It proposes that the idea of the city which captures political,cultural and social realities must form the basis for a common framework. By transforming the dominant type of the region into an absolute andmulti-scalar framework, true differences are respected rather than washed over with economic palliatives. This architectural and landscape commonframework form a rich ground where the two sides can interact. And through acknowledging and respecting differences, the two sides can benefitwithout decreasing their own values. This is the essence of cooperation.