Keelung Harbor Terminal Building Proposal / Synthesis Design + Architecture (SDA)

© OneView CG

The proposal for the New Harbor terminal building by Synthesis Design + Architecture (SDA) focuses on the synthesis of three core concepts into a coherent, elegant, and iconic solution which signals the formation of a new identity for Keelung Harbor. Inspired by the geometric patterns of Taiwanese Hen Cages and the structural shells of luxury racing yachts, the building takes shape in a dynamic gradient form that transitions from exo-skin to exo-skeleton in response to programmatic content as well as performative requirements. More images and architects’ description after the break.

© OneView CG

This new identity seeks to:

1. Provide a local landmark and portal for Keelung which acknowledges its context and legacy, while simultaneously projecting its potential future by: a. forming a portal condition with the opposing tower on the opposite side of the bay; b. referencing the historical legacy of Keelung’s Chinese name (the Hen Cage); c. capitalizing on the local industry of yacht manufacturing to explore the formal, material and structural language of the composite industry as both inspiration and resource.

© OneView CG

2. Animate and connect the waterfront by: a. harnessing, stimulating, and distributing pedestrian activity, movement and flows by connecting to existing public circulation flows; b. sharing program with surrounding buildings; c. facilitating intuitive navigation through open space-planning; d. encouraging transitional programs and gradient transitions through soft boundaries that define field conditions rather than enclosed spaces.

© OneView CG

3. Integrate visual, structural, and environmental performance as generative design concepts rather than additive design solutions by: a. optimizing building orientation and massing for passive environmental design and control; b. harvesting wind, rain, and sun through geometric configuration; c. plugging in to district heating/cooling and waste disposal systems; d. integrating structure and skin through geometric and material composition.

© OneView CG

What appears to be formal expression, is actually “informed form” which responds to the integration of weather, urban context, program, circulation, and sustainability through integrated design responses that inform the building orientation, spatial layout, façade design, and choice of material and structural system. The building program is divided into three primary experience groups and cyclical sequences. These three groups share programmatic overlaps and transitions which allow exchange between groups.

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Rather than consider the programmatic arrangement as the organization of platonic programmatic elements, we have considered the program as a self-organizing system of agents of programmatic pixels which aggregate based upon weighted connections to specified anchor programs. Starting with the typical bubble diagram to define relationships, the placement of specific anchor programs re-distributes the transitional programs into gradient fields of varying densities and distributions of pixels rather than hermetic zones with defined boundaries and thresholds.

Architects: Synthesis Design + Architecture (SDA)
Location: Keelung,
Structural, MEP, Facades, Environmental: Buro Happold
Visualization: OneView CG
Team: Alvin Huang (Design Principal), David O. Wolthers (Project Architect), Filipa Valente, Chia-ching Yang, Joey Sarafian, Behnaz Farahi, Mo Harmon
Client: Port Of Keelung; Taiwan International Ports Corporation, Ltd.
Program: International Passenger and Cargo Cruise Terminal, Office Tower, Retail + Amenities
Area: 140,000sqm
Status: Competition Entry

Cite: Furuto, Alison. "Keelung Harbor Terminal Building Proposal / Synthesis Design + Architecture (SDA)" 08 Aug 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed 24 May 2015. <>
  • Robb

    Horrible. Poke it with stick to see if it’s alive. Looks like generic Greg Lynn undergraduate student work circa 2004.

  • pabloignaciofigueroa

    The most criticable thing for me,
    it’s about the presentation.

    What’s with all the black sheets.
    I meen sometimes its gives some dramatic aspects,
    but it’s not working with this.
    It’s like they were white’s and then they
    make some inverse but it looks poorly.

    About the project itself, i really don’t like it,
    but its a proposal and the idea its to show ideas

  • Neo

    reminds me of Kaohsiung Port by asymptote,