Client: Weifang University
Status: Competition (2015)
Location: Weifang, China
Climate: Humid subtropical, Temperate
Materials: Concrete, Glass, Vegetal
Types: Education, Office, Office building, University
The Gate building sits at the West entrance to the campus. It includes mostly administration facilities, and some representation spaces, meeting rooms and a few commercial facilities such as post office, info centre, exhibition area… It has an area of approximately 21.000m2 and acts as a security gate into the campus, welcoming visitors and students alike.
The concept for this building aims at a structure which will be able to accommodate future changes, both during the project development and after. Given the indetermination about the program we have composed the building so it will be able to accommodate change, through a combinatorial system of basic units. We have used as a reference the Yi Jing, as a Manual of Changes.
The concept is also inspired by the Dou Gong construction technology, which is based on the piling of parallelepiped elements to produce a more complex structure. For this combinatorial logic we have developed a U shaped units. These units are piled in different configurations, creating elevated gardens which are accessible from the upper floors. All plans in the buildings are double fronted in order to be able to use cross ventilation and daylight in every part of the building.
The general organization is based on a traditional Chinese gate with a tripartite layout. The basic scheme has been combined with the idea of courtyard buildings, associating each entryway to a different courtyard. The central gateway leads into the University mall and it hovers above the entryway with some of the most representative offices of the university.
The canteen sits on the North side of the Mall and mediates between the Mall and the ecological promenade. It includes a ground floor level of 6.500 m2, a storage and service basement of 3.000 m2, and a mezzanine of 2.650 m2.
The Canteen building furnishes the opportunity to create an artificial topography along the University Mall, in order to produce a more theatrical topography along a rather flat topography. Our inspiration comes from Chinese Scholar’s Rocks, and their exploration of natural aesthetics as an artificial, carefully curated natural object. The seamless blending between the natural and the artificial that occurs in the Great Wall of China.
In Weifang, the topography will be created by a deformation of the ground which uses a system of ramps to produce skylights above a very large footprint. The Canteen building will operate as a landscape feature in the Mall, a sort of baroque ramp of monumental proportions which will provide a series of accessible decks from which people can look at events in the Mall and in the main square. The structure of the ramped roof is such that it produces a series of South-facing skylights which will lit naturally the canteen spaces, and provide opportunities for climate control and ventilation.
The decks will be partially planted with grass and bushes in order to retain water on the roof. The side elevations will be entirely clad with an all glass curtain wall, protected from the sun by lateral ramps.
In designing the Canteen we have tried to maintain the uses as close to the ground level as possible. Finally, only a small size 2.650m2 mezzanine will be required to supply the requested areas. The storage, processing and recycling facilities of the building have been sunken underground. The kitchen is concentrated on the southern side of the building, where the roof is still not very high, in order to reserve the more monumental spaces for the dining areas.
The structure will be built in reinforced precast concrete. The columns are placed perpendicular to the roof creating a tilted field of columns producing a disconcerting, unbalanced, dynamic space. The 2.650m2 mezzanine level is accessible also from the roof and the ramp systems which wraps around the building on the E, W and N sides.