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Gravitational Field 2018: A Proposal Evaluation Meeting of the Work Camp of the Urban Micro Space Revival Plan
>>> 聚散——剧场 <<<
>>> 穿云——趣场 <<<
>>> 回望——展场 <<<
>> 关于“总体协调” <<<
>>> 关于“材料” <<<
>>> 关于“技术” <<<
On the afternoon of September 6, 2018, a proposal evaluation meeting of “Gravitational Field 2018 – Work Camp of the Urban Micro Space Revival Plan”, organized by GOA, Let’s Talk and XiBu, was held at No.12 Building of China Academy of Art. At the meeting, six contestants from Tongji University, Southeast University and China Academy of Art presented their proposals for the competition, and had an exciting discussion with 15 judges present.
An Overview of Gravitational Field
Urban Micro Space Revival Plan
2018 Work Camp
“Gravitational Field – A Link between the Art of Architecture and the Public Cultural Life” is an event launched by GOA. So far, there have been two successful editions of Gravitational Field. GOA hopes to identify and cultivate promising young architects through the research & construction of specific public space revival projects, and provide them with good opportunities to demonstrate creativity. In the meanwhile, each project completed will become a “gravitational field in the city”, providing spaces for community activities, artistic performances and parent-child games to spice up the vim and vigor of city blocks.
In 2018, GOA partnered with Let’s Talk to launch the 2018 Gravitational Field Work Camp to sustain people’s attention to urban space revival. The number of judges invited to the event is even more than twice as big as that of participants, as the aim is to ensure that the finalized works can withstand testing and be better presented to the public. In the meanwhile, it’s also an interesting experiment to work with universities to expose students to real-life setup processes. During the design and setup process, GOA and many well-known architects will mentor the students. The final installation will be set up and shown to the public at the front square of the Power Station of Art (PSA) in early November, and a series of academic activities and public events will be organized too.
Proposal Evaluation Meeting of “Gravitational Field 2018 – Work Camp of the Urban Micro Space Revival Plan”
Gravitational Field 2018
Work Camp of the Urban Micro Space Revival Plan
A Review of the Proposal Evaluation Meeting
An Introduction to the Activities and Needs of Gravitational Field
Founder of XiBu
Gravitational Field always highlights two key elements, artistic installations and field activities. Any work of public art should be able to comply with the aesthetic taste of the public and have functional value.
-Site Upgrading: This year’s venue is located at the front square before the entrance of the Power Station of Art (PSA), with an area of 2,300 square meters.
- Requirements for “Exhibition”: This year, we will introduce a new form of exhibition called “X Flash”, which means that we will arrange different exhibitions for different days. Each exhibition will start setup at 10:00 a.m., and be demolished at 19:00 p.m.. Any materials used are not allowed to be left at the site over the night, so artists are required to use light-weight materials. The space of Gravitational Field must allow for the exhibition setup and demolishment needs, and mostly, natural lighting should be utilized for exhibition purposes.
- Requirements for “Theatre”: Rests, activities and small-sized
- On November 10, the PSA will organize Shanghai Biennale, an exhibition that is highly influential worldwide. This is sure to attract large numbers of visitors to our Gravitational Field.
- Analysis of Design Conditions
- Wang Yan
- Visiting Professor at the College of Architecture & Urban Planning of Tongji University
- Chief Architect of GOA
The Power Station of Art (PSA) is the most influential contemporary art museum in Shanghai. However, there has never been any event organized at its front square, the land management and use right of which lies with the nearly Urban Best Practice Area (UBPA), which is now an office area, rather than the PSA. During the daytime, you can rarely see office people doing any activity here. In the evening, some local residents will come here for leisure and relaxation. However, as there are no facilities or amenities, most of the traffic is not planned or organized in advance. This area is in the vicinity of the Huangpu River. Last year, Shanghai completed the connection project along the banks of the Huangpu River. Since then, Shanghai citizens have started to jog along the river. There are a lot of joggers in the evening, but they seldom come to this space for activities.
Presentations by Camp Participants
The project highlights connection with local communities. It exploits the advantages of the space to provide local communities with opportunities for more activities and interactions and create a unique and pleasant spatial experience. The project is scheduled to be launched on November 11 to inject powerful vitality into the area. 6 students from Southeast University, Tongji University and China Academy of Art, under the mentoring from architecture, structure, construction and material experts, are working hard to complete the project.
>>> Come and Go - Theatre <<<
Zhang Xu and Qiao Runze
Seniors from the School of Architecture of Southeast University
Tasks: Image display, ensuring a match with the entrance of the PSA and harmony with other parts of the project
Strategy: To use a proper structure to emphasize the concept of “Come and Go”
For users, the structure extends outwards to other parts of the city (“Go”), and attracts people to gather (“Come”); thus, “Come” and “Go” characterize the form of the structure;
For designers, the structural design permeates and combines all phases (“Come”), and extends outwards to all aspects (“Go”).
The structure features a top with dispersive arms that are combined at the bottom, echoing with the logic of the design. It presents an interesting form of force transmission and creates a unique spatial experience, well fitting in with the image theme and the functionality purpose.
As the stage faces the street, it can attract people to come and have a look. Then, the activities going on, such as speeches, performances or shows, can further engage people. In this way, the structure realizes a rich variety of service purposes.
Technique: Setup of a steel structure
Corrugated steel plates are chosen for the coverage
The lighting is parallel to the direction of the corrugated steel plates
>>>Walking through the Clouds - Leisure<<<
Yu Siyuan and Li Jiawen
Seniors from the School of Architecture of China Academy of Art
Problem: The site is empty and spacious, with almost no activity going on during the daytime. Only a few local residents come here for relaxation in the evening.
Expectation: Through the micro space revival project, it’s hoped that the square can be utilized and become lively during the daytime.
Idea: To create “floating clouds” so that people can have fun walking through them while sheltered from the scorching sun.
The “Leisure” section underwent the biggest change during the design period of Gravitational Field. From the initial extension of the structure over the whole site to the later focus on the pavilion in the front of the square. “Leisure” is now designed as an appealing place for leisure and relaxation with interesting interfaces for interaction.
Conclusion: An appealing place for relaxation and leisure with interesting interfaces for interaction
Triangular boards create varied visual effects, while enabling the whole structure to look open and inviting from the outsides. Inside, it builds up people’s expectations for activities.
Structurally, I-shaped steel pieces and bolts are hinged.
>>>Review - Exhibition<<<
Yang Tianzhou and Deng Xifan
Seniors from the College of Architecture and Urban Planning of Tongji University
Thinking: From the perspective of “Exhibition”, is it possible to make the popular art museum an attractive exhibit in itself?
Analysis: The chimney is a symbol of the Industrial Age. Now, it looks obsolete in the Internet Age. Instead of demolishing it, the Power Station of Art (PSA) transformed it and gave it new meaning, purpose and value.
Strategy: To place “Exhibition” along the central axis of the PSA for the best viewing angle.
After the evaluation of different forms, including freely-shaped planes, square planes and triangular planes, it’s finally decided that a triangular cone should be adopted after considering factors such as materials, construction and structuring. It’s because a triangular cone can ensure stability and allow the creation of different functional spaces based on height changes.
It’s decided to locate the entrance at the southern side, as it ensures greater convenience to enter the structure and allows a better view of the chimney.
The Best Photo-Taking Point inside “Exhibition”
In addition to the use of corrugated steel plates, a small number of polycarbonate hollow sheets are used.
Keels of the same specifications are used, and connecting rods, paving, LED strips, and sockets are also carefully designed to ensure consistency.
Q & A Session for Proposal Evaluation
>>About “Overall Coordination”<<<
Judge: How do you communicate with the Employer? Do you have a clear idea who the Employer is?
Participants: Students responsible for project design are from three universities, and our Employer is a three-party consortium. We need to coordinate with Ms. Jia Bu, who is in charge of artistic exhibitions and other related activities, to ensure alignment. We also need to work with Mr. Wang Yan from GOA to meet his requirements about functionality, budget and materials. Besides, Dai Chun explained the meaning of the Urban Micro Space Revival Plan to help us identify the focus. We have weekly meetings to discuss our designs, so there’s sufficient communication between the design team and the Employer.
Judge: How did you finalize your proposals?
Participant: Each team developed a proposal. The proposal for “Exhibition” was first finalized, because it’s where the whole set of structures starts. Then, it’s the “Theatre” section facing the street, and the “Leisure” section connecting the other two parts. This involved cooperation among different teams. Overall, we’re required to ensure integration with the entrance and conceal the less aesthetically pleasing parts. We worked out the best angles of the construction, and the best relative angle of the building and the PSA.
“Leisure” leads to the entrance while extending out to face the street. The overall design highlights a change in heights. The two ends are high, while the middle is low. “Theatre” is relatively low in height, allowing visibility of “Exhibition. “Exhibition” and “Theatre” are two independent points, with “Leisure” connecting and coordinating them. The challenge facing “Leisure” was how to balance the relations with “Exhibition” and “Theatre” and with neighboring constructions while ensuring a fun experience.
The proposal for “Leisure” underwent the most revisions. Initially, we wanted to stretch the structure along the whole square. Later, we reduced its length to what it is now. We did this for a lot of reasons. The most important reason is that we reached a consensus. We agreed that “Leisure” should have interesting dimensions, meanings and depths instead of offering a dull structure that can be easily interpreted. Now, the finalized design ensures that “Leisure” is long enough to run along the street and wide enough to have depths we want. Each part of the construction is independent while echoing and interacting with one another.
Judge: Was there any other factor you needed to coordinate during the design process?
Participants: Our venue is closely adjacent to the PSA, and the project is scheduled to be open to the public during the period of Shanghai Biennale. Therefore, we did some homework about the theme of “Shanghai Biennale 2018”.
The theme of Shanghai Biennale 2018 is “Proregress”, which refers to a form of movement used in the rituals of Taoism in ancient China. More specifically, it’s a mysterious movement between forward and backward steps. We didn’t understand why the term was used until we saw the theme expressed in English. To us, the Biennale probably uses “Proregress” to invite a discussion of the dialectical relationship between “progress” and “regress”. So we came up with the idea of using inexpensive materials to create high-quality spaces in the context of today’s rapid technological development, as an echo with the theme of Shanghai Biennale 2018.
During the design process, one of our daily priorities was to ensure a balance among structures, costs and construction.
Advice from the Judges
Gan Hao: I think the micro space revival program should focus on addressing three challenges. First, how to create big value through the revival of a micro space. The students designing “Exhibition” manage to blend the characteristics of the surroundings into their design. It’s a good answer to the challenge. Second, how to interact with the environment. It’s important to utilize the space to respond to functional needs of the environment and organize activities to attract people so as to create opportunities for interactions between people and the construction. Third, “revival” indicates improvement. Most of micro space revivals take place in cities. Cities are where individuals and communities are concentrated. Nowadays, we see a lot of conflicts and contradictions in our society. It’s necessary to take the social structure into consideration. What’s more, what’s the relationship between your set of installations and Shanghai Biennale? What’s your contribution to contemporary art? Is there any innovation in terms of construction types? Is it possible to create a new type of construction for X Flash, a brand-new form of exhibition?
Judge: Why did you decide to use the materials you are using now? The construction will be removed after the scheduled period. What are your considerations for its service life?
Participant: Considering that all the installations might be removed and relocated, we decided to use light-weight steel and bolts. During the design process, we also considered whether it’s possible to use Tyvek for isolation. However, after a talk with the supplier for testing, we found that the service life couldn’t meet the need for long-term use. Besides, we initially wanted to use polycarbonate hollow sheets as the main roofing materials to create a unique feel, aura and lighting. However, eventually, we changed to corrugated steel plates to ensure convenient water drainage, reduced use of steel beams, streamlined space structure and cost savings.
Tong Ming: Is it possible to use some materials to establish a link with the site? For example, is it possible to use some old materials unique to the locality?
Wang Hao: We need to consider how a light-weight steel structure designed by an architect might differ from the final construction built by an experienced light steel setup worker. Is it possible to present more innovations? It’s worth considering whether it’s possible to make the triangular construction a spatial language in addition to the use of rods to support “Leisure”.
Chen Haoru: Light steel is divided into many types, including round tubes, square tubes, and sheets. The use of one single form of material may weaken the expressiveness of the construction. Serpentine Gallery invites architects and artists to build installations each year, and encourages different ways of thinking to achieve harmony of forms, materials, art works and spaces. I wonder whether it’s possible to add one more material into what you are using now. For example, how about the use of recycled materials to add variety to an otherwise standardized creation? I believe that with enough thinking, students’ works have a big chance of becoming masterpieces. Is there another form of design that can overcome the restraints of costs and materials? For instance, what combinations can you come up with for 100 pieces of steel?
Judge: How do you ensure the stability of the construction?
Participant: At present, we use loading to ensure stability. We have communicated with the structure engineers to determine loading points on ground beams. We have also considered furniture and seats.
Judge: Why do you decide to use dazzling lighting?
Participant: As the exhibits are untraditional, most of which are installations and action art, we believe it’s not necessary to use only soft lighting that people normally use for traditional exhibition spaces. We want to use lighting in alignment with the atmosphere of the exhibition venue.
Advice from the Judges
Gan Hao: It’s often windy and rainy by the riverside in November in Shanghai. In addition to the use of sandbags for loading, you should also consider water, which is more flexible and convenient.
Li Kaisheng: The water drainage system of corrugated steel plates should be further improved. It needs good organization. You should refine your design of the water drainage of the roof, and treatment of joints. While it’s unconventional exhibits that will be on display, you should also consider the need for daily lighting in the “Exhibition” section.
Tong Ming: In addition to the shape of “Theatre”, you should conduct further research into details of performance scenes. Your current lighting plan only covers lighting for the construction itself. You should also consider what kinds of performance will be going on to develop the most suitable lighting solution. All these are what you should think about. After all, your work is not just an artwork; moreover, it should be a construction with functional value.
Professor and Doctoral Advisor at the College of Architecture and Urban Planning of Tongji University
Principal architect at TM STUDIO
Guests Invited to the Discussion
(Listed in the surname stroke order)
Visiting professor at the College of Architecture and Urban Planning of Tongji University
Chief Architect of GOA
Principal Architect of Rùn Atelier
Teaching at the School of Architecture of China Academy of Art
Special researcher at the School of Architecture of Southeast University
Founder of Atelier MUTO
Dean of the Department of Architecture of the School of Architecture of Southeast University
Founder and principal architect of LYCS Architecture
Teaching at the School of Architecture of China Academy of Art
Deputy Dean of the School of Architecture of China Academy of Art
Dean of the Department of Environmental Design of China Academy of
Principal Architect of Qingdaofang Studio
Visiting Professor of the School of Architecture of China Academy of Art
President and Chief Architect of GOA
Chief Architect of GOA
Associate Professor of the School of Architecture of China Academy of Art
Principal Architect of CITIARC
Deputy Dean of the Department of Architecture of the College of Civil Engineering and Architecture of Zhejiang University
Founder of XiBu
Founder and Principal Architect of Design Hub
Teaching at the School of Architecture of China Academy of Art
Teaching at the Department of Architecture of the College of Civil Engineering and Architecture, Zhejiang University
Founder of Let’s Talk
Initiator of the Urban Micro Space Revival Plan
Operation Director and Editor of Time + Architecture, a magazine of Tongji University
Co-curator of 2017 Shanghai Urban Space Art Season
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