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【问题 | Problem】
“The metropolis of the 21st century takes up too much room... It sprawls... It must not keep evolving simply by expanding.”
The expansion of cities never stops. Twenty years ago, “nature” was something with reach, and the so-called “city” was just an area surrounded by nature. Nowadays, as cities expend all around, fields and forests have already been replaced by high buildings and large mansions, sometimes the edge of a city is just another city. “Nature” becomes unreachable destinations, taking us hours to arrive.
To solve this problem, we want to change the current situation by setting up some “non-urban” things in cities. They will allow people who can’t leave cities to escape from cities temporarily, and arouse the cognition of nature.
【概念 | Concept】
In this huge city, it is impractical to change the relationship between the city and nature by changing the boundaries of the city.
There's a fable discussing the boundary. “ A farmer wanted to cover the area as large as possible with the least fence, so he asked both mathematician and philosopher for help. The mathematician encircles all the fences into a precise circle and told him that no shape will produce a larger area than the circle. The philosopher, however, fumbled himself with little fence, he said: I'm just standing outside the fence right now.”
Inspired of this story, we found another way to define the boundary between the city and nature: Border is not the edge of the city, it can exist within the city, so there can be countless nature in this city. We hope that the interface will not interfere with the city, while its shape was determined by the environment to ensure that people will not be intruded by the city.
So we need to express the city's borders as entities. In fact, the ancients had used “Garden” to separate nature from the city. However, the traditional garden has been unable to isolate the city and nature while surrounded by tall buildings, so we need to find a purer form while preserving the idea of isolation.
In traditional Chinese context, "mountain" is the most primitive and natural element. It represents all things in the world and is the origin of the worship of Heaven and Earth. The mountain is regarded as a dwelling place for the immortals, and is totally different from the secular and spiritual existence.
From this perspective, some factors such as "shade, water, flower, bird"—which are essential for Chinese traditional gardens—are no longer applicable. So we get rid of the traditional expressions of "nature"，and use the ancestral and truest symbols— Heaven and Mountain—to replace them.The inside of our design is isolated from the outside, keep the invasion of cities from "natural".It will be a pure or even sacred space.
【空间 | Space】
The site of our case is located in Tianjin. In recent decades,Tianjin has entered a period of rapid expansion. The urban fringe has developed rapidly into a bustling zone.This area was once connected with nature, but now it is surrounded by buildings, one side is crowded residential areas, another is rigid high-rise buildings.In this land, residential, commercial, office and other functions are integrated in a high-density manner, people in the‘concrete forest’ repeat an efficient and monotonous life, far away from nature and get lost.
We give the building two distinct faces. Towards the city, we involve a pure square concrete box into the city filled with ‘box building’, making it unlike the building deliberately in a natural-form pursuit.While inside the building, the facade is covered with rough rock, forming an original ‘mountain’ texture by combining them irregularly. At the same time, the white boxes are embedded in the rock, implying the existence of exterior cities.
The path hidden inside the rock was divided into three progressive sequences, describing a dream about escaping from the city. This three stage represents three different psychological feelings from the city to the architecture.
The first sequence represents ‘forgetting’, people escape from the city to enter the building. the city and nature alternately appear while people advance in the process of building.
The second one represents‘meditation’, consisting of a series of inaccessible abstract elements and pure spatial factors.
The last sequences represent ‘liberal’, which is the core part of building space, the integration of human and natural environment.
● As you step onto a long ramp, the city gradually hides under the colonnades.
● The second space represent oblivion. People rise gradually through the isolated space and forget the impression of the city. Since then, we start entering the building.
● The third space centers in water. Swimmers and passersby look at each other across the shore, therefore, their fear of the unknown disappears.
● In the fourth space, people can only look up and see. There is only sky in their vision.
● The fifth space consists of steps moving forward, leading people to the opposite mountain which they cannot touch.
● The sixth space is a long, dark corridor with only light in the end.
● The seventh space represents the solidification of the light. Thousands of light pipes lead sunlight into the exteriors. People walk into the dome-like space through a rising corridor.
● The eighth space represents the cities in dream. People feel at a loss as they come across the bright city again after a series of spaces. Cities becomes somewhat unreal.
● The last space is a slit. People can truly enter into the building only through the narrow gap and down to the ground. From the bright light gap to the open view of mountain and grassland, we finally break away from the city to nature.
【结语 | Conclusion】
During this time, maybe we're not able to stop the expansion of cities, but we shouldn't let them become huge prisons which we can never escape from. In our design，we redefine a boundary through discussing on artificial and natural to response urban expansion. It's not only a Utopian dream, but also a posibility to rebuild the relationship betwen cities and nature.
陈译民 | 天津大学 张诗瑶 | 天津大学 毕雪皎 | 天津大学