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.
D/OCEAN in Yeosu, Korea by Y Design Office
January 4th, 2012 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: Y Design Office
The two silos at the expo site are standing at an outstanding location- situated between the ocean and the mountain- and also surrounded by two large public plazas. It is critical to redesign the current silos with foundational understanding for the importance of its current location. Since the silos stand at a focal point in viewing the ocean (from Silo A) and the mountains (from Silo B), this connection to its surrounding nature must be kept intact even when advances are made to its current design. Our design exploits the territory between the natural and the digital. The two silos will become an interesting destination where the world between nature and technology becomes strangely ambiguous without subtracting the original element in each.
FIBROUS SCREEN + THIRD VOID
In our design, the two silos are wrapped by bundles of semi-translucent plastic tubes/pipes, thereby creating a new space, a third void, in between the silos. This design is representative of the concept behind our project- the merging of the two different spheres in today’s world (the digital and the natural). Our design is unique in that when the two spheres blend, one does not necessarily take away from the other or dominate the other. Just as the two silos are standing intact, it is possible for the two cylinders to exist separately while in harmony. The void created by wrapping the two silos is a middle ground, a unique third space situated between the two silos. The plastic pipes are dichotomous, acting as a railing towards the edge but when it reaches towards the middle (the third space), they also act as a fibrous screen where images and movies can be projected. The pipes are manmade and artificial but by acting as a railing, provides an unobstructed view looking out towards the ocean and the mountain. Because the fibrous screen is porous, when the digital art is projected on to the screen, the landscape behind the screen is also vaguely visible through the gaps between the pipes- an ambiguous spatial experience of digital and nature. The screen is visible from both front and back (or from outside and inside) of the building.
FACADE PROJECTION + SWARMING LIGHTS
The oceanic landscape pierces through the fibrous pipes that connect the silos, enhancing the visibility of nature through the screen during daytime. The digital world becomes alive at night, in the dark. The projected art on the screen is accentuated as the day turns into night and as the scenery fades away. Interestingly, the inside of the silos are always dark. However, this does not mean that the digital world has won over in the dark stillness. As scenery still seeps between the digital screen, nature exists in the seemingly lifeless interior of the silos- it is an ocean without water, a dark void filled with robotic fishes, another merging of the nature and the digital. These robots are equipped with helium balloons and built-in mechanisms to maneuver around the silo as well as to communicate with other robots through wireless telecommunication technology. The robots will illuminate an eerie but comforting light (resembling a glowing jellyfish) to the people who enter the dark void to climb up the stairs on the way to the observation deck. The robots will follow after the fish-swarming rule, a behavior of aquatic animals moving together in a similar pattern. There are three main rules for the swarming behavior found in nature- 1) the fish will move closer to its school when it gets separated, 2) the fish will move away if it’s too close to another, and 3) the fish will be attracted to its attractors. The robotic aquatic animals will imitate these behaviors and will be systemized to be attracted to the visitors made possible by sensors embedded in the stairs, which will signal the robots allowing them to cast guiding light around the visitors’ footsteps.
THREE MODES OF EXPERIENCE
Visitors have an option to choose between three different speeds for reaching the observation deck situated at the top of the silos. Walking around the ramps wrapping the silos is the slowest way to reach the top. The ramps are also handicap-accessible and act as a façade for the silos; as people slowly spiral up, one can experience the surrounding nature and the third space sandwiched by the fibrous screens (front and back), a space where nature and digital coexist. To speed up the ascending process, one can also choose to cut through and enter Silo A to access the stairs (steeper than the ramps) and experience the robotic ocean. The fastest way to reach the observation deck is to take the glass elevator installed in Silo B. The swarming fishes are also positioned in Silo B but they move faster in tune to the speed of the elevator.
The newly designed structure will stand in full view from the plazas below, capable of housing various installation arts and exhibitions in addition to the projected screen for public display. The structure can also hold office/maintenance space on the first floor of Silo A, inside the structural walls. The first floor of Silo B will be the main exhibition space with easy access to the glass elevator. Once at top, visitors will be able to relax at a Sky Café or enjoy the view by looking through movable binoculars stationed on top. The binoculars will be attached to tracks, which allow for the visitors to slide them and view the desired angle of view. Outside of the building, the ground floor surrounding the silos will be filled with landscape (trees, plants, grass, etc). In order to provide seating area and a viewing spot for the fibrous screen outside of the building, an amphitheater will be built as well, providing ample opportunity for various performances to take place.
Renovated to embrace the two domains critical to today’s world- the nature and the digital- this highest structure at the expo site, providing the best location for observation decks as well as taking stance at a place central to the site, will become a signage and a distinctive emblem for Yeosu.
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