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.
M.A.P. Pavilion in Hengqin Island, China by IMPROMPTU PROJECTS
January 7th, 2016 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: IMPROMPTU PROJECTS
Macau Architecture Promenade (MAP) pavilion is the result of a worldwide open call for artists, launched by BABEL cultural organization. From more than 50 proposals from all over the world, BABEL has selected the large-scale architectural pavilion by Impromptu Projects (João Ó and Rita Machado).
The selection was based on the concept that an artwork to be contemporary must contain in itself a certain part of the future, rather than being only from its own time. The panel responsible for the selection, including Tiago Quadros and Margarida Saraiva, directors of BABEL cultural organization and José Drummond, artist and curator, considered that the work contained in itself three different possibilities of a future that are yet to come, or that is not yet completely realized:
The Macau Architecture Promenade (MAP) is a month long, city celebration of architecture, the city and the public space. MAP aims:
In order to achieve its goals, MAP presents a program of exhibitions, artistic interventions in the public space, books, talks, visits, film screenings, workshops and activities for kids and families.
This temporary bamboo structure attempts to address the enactment between the citizens and the urban landscape. It is our conviction, as designers and reflective practitioners that urban density does not mean living in a concrete and hard environment. We need to educate, sensitize and cultivate other forms of activating the realm of urbanity, as a way to suggest possible roles within the nature of public space.
This temporary bamboo structure, entitled “Treeplets”, attempts to mimic the splendor and rarity of identical triplets in the form of three random trees, hence the word play of the title. The trees are joined together through their canopies, enabling the creation of natural archways and provide the structural solidity of the whole installation. Given its sheer size, it is a public space intervention which aims at activating the outdoor activities of the local community at various levels:
Initially, we envisioned the structure to be installed in an urban setting, conveying the need to address pressing issues which involve the nature of public space within the realm of high-density urban landscape. Despite these strong intentions, we were suggested a new location which was the New Campus of the University of Macau in Hengqin Island, a newly reclaimed zone covering an area of approximately 109 hectares (1.09km2).
The campus design has a garden-style layout, in which the building blocks – mostly five-storey high – are generously spread throughout the island and in-between is a vast green area intertwined with a continuous lake, giving pleasurable sense of dwelling unconstrained.
After scrutinizing the various possible locations, we decided to place the structure in the middle of a spacious and empty lawn surrounded by medium sized trees to act as a physical and real comparison to the newly installed and artificial ones, hoping to attract the attention of the students and teachers who had to cross the garden in their daily affairs and maybe take this opportunity to enjoy the shade offered by the canopies. The proximity to the lake also brought a fresh relationship to the outdoor setting.
The total area occupied by the intervention is around 200m2 with a height of 6,20 meters. However, the footprint of the trunks (columns) presented as a cross-shaped figure occupies only 1,40m2.
Treeplets was erected within 10 days and disassembled within two working days. The number of bamboo skilled workers hired to complete this particular job varied between three and seven.
The quantity of bamboo scaffolding used to erect the canopies of the final structure was about half. In order to raise them, the skilled workers had to construct a scaffold, more precisely, a spatial grid from the ground level. During the assembly process, the void that we now see as the archways and the outer canopies was densely occupied with bamboo scaffolding, indistinguishing the final structure from its scaffolding.
Indeed, the magical moment of the assembly happened when the scaffolding was taken down and the final shape revealed itself, as if the clouds gave way to sunshine and everything became clear and illuminated.
The bamboo scaffolding is an ancient technique introduced in the building industry of Macau and Hong Kong right after the colonization period. Nowadays, it is still widely used to skirt up the sides of the skyscrapers. Most of the bamboo poles used in the construction of scaffoldings belong to the species Bambusa tuldoides Munro, native of Guangdong province, in the southern of China. The scaffolds are formed by one or two grids of bamboo poles, in which the horizontal and upright poles are braced by crisscrossed diagonal ones. Thin strips of nylon plastic are used to bind the poles.
Treeplets utilizes the traditional technique of bamboo scaffolding verbatim. It is formed by a spatial grid of 60x60cm with bamboo poles varying from 6 meters long to 1 meter with diameters between 5 and 7cm. The columns are braced by crisscrossed diagonal poles that stretch to the outer limits of the canopy, with diameters of 8 to 10cm. These diagonals are also applied at the rooftop of each tree. The joints are tied with white nylon strips to enhance the sculptural quality of the structure, being that the batch had to be specially ordered with a minimum quantity to avoid the usual black color.
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