Sanjay Gangal is the President of IBSystems, the parent company of AECCafe.com, MCADCafe, EDACafe.Com, GISCafe.Com, and ShareCG.Com.
Chengdu Skycourts in China by Höweler + Yoon
January 21st, 2011 by Sanjay Gangal
The SkyCourt building in the Intangible Culture Park takes its inspiration from the traditional Chinese courtyard house and the relationship between the architecture and the natural context. The multiple courtyards in the compound frame views of the sky above. The courtyards also frame small gardens that bring the natural world inside the house.
Our proposal interpreted the courtyard house type as an inward focused building with an irregular perimeter. The entire footprint of the site was organized around courtyards, with each courtyard having specific characteristics that correspond to a poem by the Tang poet, Li Bai. The poem, “Tianmu Mountain Ascended as in a Dream” was an original inspiration for the sequence of courtyards. A visitor to the building would experience the spaces, each one referring to a line in the poem. For example the visitor enters through the “Hidden Garden” and passes through the “Garden of Perception,” glimpses the “Heavenly Terrace” before entering the “Moonlit Shadow Garden.” Each courtyard has its own characteristics, making the experience of the building analogous to “inhabiting” the poem.
The complex lacks a single center; instead it is a network with multiple centers, and multiple paths, edges and liners. The sequence through these precincts creates a series of layered spaces that line exterior spaces, and views from one courtyard might look through perimeter spaces and into other courtyards. The layering of interiors and exteriors creates a varied sequence through the complex.
The center of each courtyard maintains a pure geometry, while the perimeter responds to the context to accommodate the irregular boundary. The edges of the site conform to the irregular geometry of the property line and perimeter rooms are arranged to accommodate the oblique geometries.The roof geometry consists of a series of inward sloping roofs. The roof profile varies to create the impression of a landscape of peaks and valleys. The alternating inclinations of the major ridge lines produce a varied roofscape and cause the roof planes to twist. By maintaining a constant eave line and varying the perimeter, each plane on the roof is a hyperbolic ruled surface. The use of a ceramic tile uses the gap between units as well as the fine grain of the tile, to absorb the non planar roof condition. The ceramic tile, with a built in capacity to absorb tolerance between units aggregates to produce a twisting roofscape configuration. The project exploits a specific building material to achieve a larger geometrical effect.
The perimeter wall varies in height from 11 to 15 meters, and is faced with a traditional grey brick. The bricks for the perimeter wall are always oriented in the same grain, regardless of the oblique angle of the perimeter walls. The result is of an overall project “grain” or oriented texture. The main entrance is located in a wall that is smooth, while around the corner the perimeter wall takes on a subtle texture as bricks maintain the grain against the angle of the wall. From the exterior the building will look smooth or serrated, depending on the orientation. Local construction materials and techniques are enlisted to produce nontraditional articulations and effects.
The exterior wall is punctuated by a series of tapered openings that express the 600 mm thickness of the wall. The incised frame and tapered faces are made of a local wood panel that adds a rich accent color to the windows: a smooth cut to contrast with the varied texture of the brick wall. The irregular pattern of openings is produced by combining a set of window proportions with a set of opening proportions.
The emergence of a Contemporary Chinese architecture negotiates the desire for a site specific architecture of the “local” with an awareness of the “global.” The design of the Skycourt building balances the narratives and construction logics of Chengdu with contemporary building practices to blend Tradition and Modernity in a particularly Chinese expression.
Category: Commercial Building