As part of the 2012 cycle of competitions curated by Adrian Lahoud, Think Space is calling for entries in its Yokohama Port Terminal competition. Simply put, the Yokohama project actually started around the possibility of generating organization from a circulation pattern, which is basically a hybridization between a shed – a more or less undetermined container – and a ground, thus inventing a unique architectural/urban typology, one that would go on to influence a generation of architects. More images and information on the competition after the break.
“This is a project that we never planned to win”, say Farshid Moussavi and Alejandro Zaera-Polo in the introduction to The Yokohama Project, published in 2002. Some ten years later and looking back, Zaera-Polo continues: ‘The Yokohama project was the origin of my practice. And the opportunity to crystallize a type of investigation that I believe involved a whole generation of architects, and to test it with reality. The hybridization of infrastructure, landscape and architecture, the integration of computer-aided design into the practice of architecture, and maybe the exploration of a global practice were tested through this project into a real building. And of course, it was a huge personal experience.’
Rem Koolhaas, one of the original members of a jury that included Arata Isozaki and Toyo Ito, stated after its completion that the competition deliberations took a fascinating turn: in a jury divided between professionals (architects, planners) and non-professional members, it was the non-professional section that insisted on two key elements: uniqueness – the project had to be a landmark – and adventure – the project had to be an architectural experiment. Emboldened by this spirit, the winning design the jury selected, corresponds to the two criteria: It is unique (there never has been a pier like it), and it is architecturally an experiment: an investigation in a new, more fluent way of organizing flows – no longer ‘everything put in its place’ but a freer language that can make the familiar exciting again.
The project starts with what the architects have described as the ‘no-return pier’, an ambition to structure the precinct of the pier as a fluid, uninterrupted and multi-directional space, rather than according to gateways and fixed orientation. A series of programmatically specific interlocking circulation loops allowed the architects to subvert the traditional linear and branching structure characteristic of the building. Rather than developing the building as an object or figure on the pier, the project is produced as an extension of the urban ground, constructed as a systematic transformation of the lines of the circulation diagram into a folded and bifurcated surface.
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