ZIP & BDX Studio shared with us their proposal for Tianjin Port East Area in China. Their design objective was to underline and continuously take advantage of the duality between nature and architecture, fixed and changing, curve and angle. This is reflected in their chosen geometry as a clearly geometric, mad-made slab floats over the ground, hardly connecting with it. More images and architects’ description after the break.
Waves twisting and knotting themselves against a tree trunk. Sand dunes shaped by the sudden mood of the wind. These were the images in our mind when we started this project: sculptural, organic shapes posed against hard, clearly-defined points; images suggested by the very location of the site: close to the sea, the Tianjin harbor and the beach, but a man-made beach.
Once inside the complex, the perspective changes and architecture gives in to nature. The hard slab is split in the middle by a green wavy belt. Among a forest of slender columns, branching out at unexpected angles, oval-shaped towers reach to the ground. Though varying in size and position, the same oval shape is used in two opposed situations-as a real built tower or as a light well, with only the sky for its ceiling. The repetition of the same shape also provides a rhythm and, together with the ground arrangement, connects them into a varying path along the entire length of the site. We have here a case of vectorial architecture, a space which results by connecting a number of vectors, which in this case are the green courtyards.
From the air, the image changes for the third time; wave-like apartment buildings are wrapped around the oval cores, which by contrast appear as the solid unmovable points in our sea metaphor. Due to functional requirements, the geometry is mostly horizontal and therefore has a calmer appearance; but using so many organic shapes provides the necessary degree of variety and different details for each corner of the building.
Functionally, the overhead sheet serves to protect and connect the spaces under it, transforming this into a vast and partially opened shopping and recreational area, not just a shopping mall. From a formal point of view, the strict separation of functions is abolished; the similar shapes provide a seamless transition between commercial and living spaces.
The link between the two plots is also functional; while plot 5 concentrates most of the public functions, plot 4 also has a ground and first floor containing functions related both to the public and residential, like wellness club, beauty salon, nursery.
A concession was made to the site by breaking our building over the existing street; but this provided us with the opportunity of using a series of connecting tubes that continue in the horizontal plane the image of the tree branches.
In relation to the Dongjiang area, the building is designed to function as a landmark. In an architecturally fragmented area, this building detaches itself by sheer size, the different scale, and of course its characteristic design.