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Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.

Venus Tower in Incheon, South Korea by OFL architecture and FUERALAB

 
May 20th, 2011 by Sumit Singhal

N FLOATING GALLERY

Venus. The concept design for the master plan and city tower of the City of Incheon comes from a single moment, an inspiration, hence, a re-discovery and re-interpretation of a master piece: Botticelli’s Birth of Venus. We strongly believe that contemporary architecture, today strongly attached with time and politics and socio-political issues, needs to also form a dialogue with the past. A dialogue not only understood as literal interpretation but subjective definition, a metamorphosis of form and meaning. We propose to base our design concept on the Birth of Venus, reinterpreting the act of birth, the birth of a new City that rises from a large body of water and a rich blend of cultural diversity: the cosmopolitan city of past, present and future.

Venus Tower

  • Architect: OFL architecture + FUERALAB
  • Title: Venus Tower: a zero gravity observatory
  • Location: Incheon, South Korea
  • Client: Korea Land Corporation
  • Data: 120.000 sqm (tower)
  • Cost: € 150 M
  • Materials: steel, green, concrete, glass
  • Project Team: Francesco Lipari,  Stefano Rocchetti, Gabriel Belli Butler
  • Timing: design 2008

Venus is our inspiration. Venus is life, breath, power, and above all things, beauty. The master plan takes all these elements, proposing a large public space for recreational uses and a city centre as landmark, as well as landscape.

Landscape. Across an intensive study of the vegetation and its colouring, we have based our entire master plan under the large possibility of varying the colour four times a year. Four different typologies of flowers, actually, will colour the entire landscape cyclically, every four months, hence revealing the current season: red tulips during spring, yellow freesia during summer, blue iris during the fall, and orange narcissus during winter. These coloured threads will cover the master plan from south to north, accentuating the visual perspectives that will accompany the visitor in a thread of colour from red to orange, with a constant for the rest of the master plan which is the green colour.

Venus Tower

Fluidity . One important aspect of the design concept is to express a sense of fluidity and flexibility throughout the City tower, yet to propose not just a landmark for the City of Incheon but an ever changing sign, an image that represents the city and its instances. The inner life of the tower will be projected on it’s outer façade, allowing for a strong visual morphosis and colourful transitions. Fluidity will also be expressed through form on the upper, more flexible spaces of the tower, such spaces as the auditorium, the rock climbing wall, and the Zero Gravity Zone where people may take a moment to challenge the laws of space, time and weight. The shapes of these spaces will be fluid, and they will be a literal interpretation of the birth of Venus, rising from a vast sea into a new world.

Landscape. Across an intensive study of the vegetation and its colouring, we have based our entire master plan under the large possibility of varying the colour four times a year. Four different typologies of flowers, actually, will colour the entire landscape cyclically, every four months, hence revealing the current season: red tulips during spring, yellow freesia during summer, blue iris during the fall, and orange narcissus during winter. These coloured threads will cover the master plan from south to north, accentuating the visual perspectives that will accompany the visitor in a thread of colour from red to orange, with a constant for the rest of the master plan which is the green colour.

Exterior View

Fluidity . One important aspect of the design concept is to express a sense of fluidity and flexibility throughout the City tower, yet to propose not just a landmark for the City of Incheon but an ever changing sign, an image that represents the city and its instances. The inner life of the tower will be projected on it’s outer façade, allowing for a strong visual morphosis and colourful transitions. Fluidity will also be expressed through form on the upper, more flexible spaces of the tower, such spaces as the auditorium, the rock climbing wall, and the Zero Gravity Zone where people may take a moment to challenge the laws of space, time and weight. The shapes of these spaces will be fluid, and they will be a literal interpretation of the birth of Venus, rising from a vast sea into a new world.

Concept

Double Skin Façade Concept

The building envelope has been first conceived as a sculptural artifact. To translate the free (fluid) form into a defined geometry that can be build with today’s construction methods and within a reasonable budget is one of the key challenges for a unique project like this one. The building envelope embraces the City Tower like an organic woven piece of cloth with variable loop sizes. There is no differentiation between façade and structure. The whole building envelope has been merged into one continuous sculptural element composed of two different systems: an external glass plane and an internal organic concrete mesh. This double skin envelop has been carefully crafted to give the building an almost fluid appearance of soft transition from concave and convex, from transparent to opaque. The two façade systems converge and reject one another in a subtle way, offering ever changing perspectives for the beholder both inside and outside the building premises. The structure the holds together these two façade layers functions as a homogenous mesh of concrete and glass panes, giving structural unity and coherence throughout the concept building design.

Interior View

Tower and Landscape (Masterplan)

The concept design for the master plan is to make the City Tower a portion of landscape conceived as an urban park_infrastructure , a container for the different programme, which, in our opinion, it is not only a place for leisure, but a social centre with multiple responsibilities.

Tower and landscape are to be intended as elements constituting the same programmatic structure. The building is not an isolated and remote realm, but, on the contrary, is an exceptional space which interacts with its surroundings in a way that can transform its perception when we look at it from the inside, as well as from the outside. It is not only about lightness, but it is also a matter of fluidity and different transparencies. The importance of this tower is its geographic location, its being part of the territory, its being landscape. The building integrates the landscape and becomes a mark on the territory, a landmark. The proposed master plan for the City Tower is conceived as an artificial landscape that blurs with its natural surroundings. The surroundings and the over imposed synthetic landscape interweave and interact with each other; the consequence of this topographic manipulation synthesizes the two systems into a consistent, progressive and innovative identity.

Plan

Building Geometry

The geometric form of the City Tower is regulated by the actual operations and intersections of its systems: the lake, the different infrastructures, the land and the building, providing a flexible envelope open to continues change. The reorganization of the site topography would be responding to internal dynamics connected to programmatic imperatives and to the external interaction of the two topographies, those being the natural and the artificial. The resulting artificial landscape is characterized by a well defined distinctive skyline, a landmark which will become a pole of identity for the city of Incheon and for the Korean cultural heritage in general.

Over many years now we have developed and refined techniques to translate complex shapes into optimized building geometries. Today state of the art computer tools allow us to do this as a largely automated process. So called Parametric design tools allow us to handle huge and complex geometries in order to establish a continuous data-flow from early design stages to construction drawings and eventually building production.

Plan

Climate Control and Sustainability

The internal tower environment could be maintained by an ‘all air displacement system’. Such a system uses only air as the cooling medium to the space, and this air is pumped at low velocity in from the floor at low level. The air is introduced into the floor void at low level and from the double skin facade system. The floor void acts as a plenum or duct to transport the air to where it is required. The air is supplied to the space through floor outlets positioned strategically around the space. people or lighting. The air will rise gaining in temperature. It will pick up further heat at high level from the lights. This warm air, which will be above head height, could reach a temperature of 26°Cbefore being sucked into the ceiling void through the lights, perimeter slot via the blind box and other holes. All the heat sources emit contaminants, machines as well as people. These are efficiently removed by the buoyancy driven airflow.

This provides a good air quality within the occupied space. The amount of air supplied to each space must be sufficient to take away the heat gains within the space. A calculation needs to be done once the heat loading of the space is confirmed. Spaces next to the building’s perimeter will experience heat from outside, due to the sun and the air temperature.

Painting

This solar gain will vary in magnitude depending on the weather conditions, time of day and time of year. Irrespective of solar gain it is important to realise that direct and indirect sunshine will enter the building at different times of the year and this may be uncomfortable to occupants with sun directly on them and because of reflections on the display casings. It is recommended for this reason that internal blinds be installed. The solar gain at the building’s perimeter spaces requires that more air be supplied here than to those spaces further back from the perimeter. It is important to realise that the temperature within each space will vary between a minimum of 20.5°Cand maximum of 25.5°C. The temperature will be low when the space is sparsely occupied, has a small number of machines or, at the perimeter, when the sun isn’t shining. Conversely the temperature will be high with a densely occupied space, a large number of machines or, at the perimeter, when the sun is shining. During much of the year warm air, from the ceiling voids, is mixed with fresh air to provide the full quantity of air required for cooling. The mixed air is cooled using refrigeration equipment. The quantity of fresh air will usually be greater than the minimum required and during certain conditions will be entirely fresh air. This minimises the energy used by the refrigeration machines for cooling. It also minimises the energy required to heat the air during winter. The humidity of the air supplied to the space will be dictated by the humidity of the outside air and the number of people in the building.

Exterior View

TOWER DESCRIPTION

Lobby

At its base, the tower splays out, creating an impression of a plant emerging from the ground. The skyn of the tower peel away at the base, creating canopies all around, thanks to a dramatic atrium. The atrium gestures towards the rest of the development and serves as a public linkage space to the retail and tram bus station functions.

Offices

An office core of twenty floor levels define the first twenty floors of the Venus Tower. These offices are at the bottom-most part of the tower sllowing for easy and fast access of employees. The offices also enjoy a large panoramic view of the city of Incheon, and this view is made more present with the use of suspended terraces that project out into the open air. These terrazes, or canopies, appear randomly throughout the vertical section, and they change function according to the floor program.

Exterior View

Fitness

The fitness and wellness facility is found on the floor levels above the offices, and they take up 5 floors starting from level 20 to 25. This fitness center seems convenient, and it will be used by both the office employees and hotel guests above.

Hotel

Above the fitness and wellness center a hotel takes the space of 20 floors, starting from floor level 25 to floor level 45. Two types of floor plans have been studied for the hotel inside the Venus tower. The first floor plan type has a circular ‘‘ring’’ like distribution with 12 rooms of approximately 20 square meters each. The rooms vary in size and some have anextended arm, or canopy terrace that offers a large panoramic view to the city. These indoor terraces are to be used as a living room extension.

On the levels above, the second floor plan typology is divided into three large size suits with a lobby and lounge access for each. These are thought to be used for long stay visits or exclusive business trips.

Site Plan

Observatory Deck

Immediately above the hotel, at level 49, we find an observatory level or deck to be used by hotel guests. The observatory deck is opened three stories high with an area reserved for a lounge-cafe and bar to be opened 24hrs a day. This observatory deck level serves as a transitional floor between the hotel and office block, and the museum-leisure areas.

Cheongna Museum

The Venus tower not only will serve the city of Incheon as an landmark, but it will also sponsor the art and local cultural heritage of the Korean people. For this reason we have provided a large space with double height floors for the museum. The Cheongna Museum is found on floor level 53 and has the height of seven floor levels in total. The first three floor levels are double height spaces for permanent and temporary art exhibits, as well as a possible space for sculpture galleries. We intend to design an open space within the museum, given the high level of flexibility that this specific part of the program generally requires. Above the gallery spaces we find two floor levels for art storage, and two other floor levels for administrative offices and management, as well as a restauration laboratory.

Leisure

The leisure floors are found on level 63, and they occupy ten floor level in total. This space is characterized by a large vertical opening that forms a wide open space for rock climbing and bungee jumping. The total height of the opening is 36 meters tall, with balconies facing the space. On the reception level there is also a ticket purchase office and terraces that extrude into the open sky. This terraces serve also as observation decks that invite play and entertainment.

Plan

Zero Gravity Zone

The Zero Gravity zone, found on level 73 between the leisure and the restaurant above, takes the shape of a Utero. It represents the heart of the Venus Tower, its beginning and it’s intention, which is to give the City of Incheon a landmark, a sign, and a place to experience the city from a diffrent and unique point of view. This Zero gravity, being suspended in the sky, recalls the beginning of life.

The exterior shell will be formed of a teflon material (transparent) tested by NASA on recent reserach for aerospace travel and astronout training camps for space flights. The inner shell forms a second skin which can be adapted, due to it’s plasticity, into any desired shape. During night hours, this shell becomes illumited from the inside, and will be transfromed into a focal point within the Venus tower.

Restaurant and Sky Bar

Immediately above the Zero Gravity zone we find a restaurant and sky bar the size of ten stories, staring on level 83. The restaurant enjoys large panoramic views to the sea, and has a series of enclosed terraces the extrude out into the sky. These spaces are big enough for a dining table of three, or two, and will be considered as potential VIP areas within the restaurant complex. The sky bar is located on the level above the restaurant. Both the restaurant and sky lobby will share a single independent access from the lobby at ground level zero. This elevator will continue into the upper most levels of the Venus tower, the Astronomical Observatory and roof top access for technical floors.

Astronomical Observatory

The Astronomical Observatory is located on the top most levels of the Venus Tower, starting on level 93. This is the crowning and most panoramic impressive views to the city of Incheon and its far surroundings. Access to the reception lobby on level 93 can be reached directly from the lobby on ground level via an elevator that stops only on the restaurant and leisure level below. Most of the turist visits will be concentrated on this levels, being a typical aspect of this specific building type. The reception floor is characterized by a large triple height space with gallery spaces and benches for visitors to seat and enjoy the view.

Rooftop

On the rooftop we find a four story technical floor block for HVAC and photovoltaic antennas to provide energy from the sun and the wind. These technical floors are accessed strictly from the service elevator and with personel maintenance check-in card.

Related posts:

Contact OFL architecture + FUERALAB and OFL architecture + FUERALAB

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