The Bamboo Lantern designed for the Gwamgju Design Biennale in Korea by Atelier FCJZ (a prominent chinese firm who is also designing the Shanghai Corporate pavilion for the Expo 2010) appears to be a solid heavy mass. Yet, as visitors separate its two halves and occupy its interior, the mere cubic form turns into something else completely. The lantern is a “ dialogue between opposites” , as its plan is comprised of a circle nested within a square. The circle and square illustrate strong symbolism from the Ancient Chinese tradition, with the former representing the heavens, and the later, the earth. These two shapes are inherently different and yet, when combined, they work together to organize the exterior space and provide a new sense for the interior. “The directionality in the square is used to organize the surrounding exterior viewing space while the stillness of the circular shape that defines the interior intimately collects the rest space,” explained the architects.
More about the lantern after the break.
Constructed with transparent vacuum-formed and welded plastic (PVC), the artificial .3 mm bamboo veneer of the interior is “covered by the natural beauty of bamboo skin.” Inside, people can stand around a small circular open hole which “ensures ample space in the interior by limiting the number of people when the two halves of the box come together.” Only when the box is opened can visitors enjoy this intimate setting. When closed, people must sit outside to enjoy the small meditation space.
When opened, the lantern is lit by natural light, making the box appear heavy and solid. However, when the lantern is closed, the internal lights illuminate the structure and “the thinness of the bamboo skin is made apparent and the lightness and transparency becomes obvious.” This effect of the light glowing through the bamboo skin was designed to remind the viewer of the lighting affect of paper screen doors of traditional Asian architecture.
On the exterior surface of the box, the indentations vary in depth in relation to the thickness of the walls, such that the corners are deepest while the middle of each side of the box is thinnest. “When viewed in perspective, tension is revealed between the circular interior space and the square exterior. From the outside the varying indentations hint at the cylindrical form of the interior space. From the interior, the opposite occurs as the changing depth of the indentations on the cylindrical space hint at the square exterior,” explained the architects.
Project: Bamboo Lantern Clients: Gwamgju Design Biennale Completion: 2009 Principal: Yung Ho Chang Project Architect: Jimmy Shen Project Team: Qingmin Guo Photographs: Atelier FCJZ