Text description provided by the architects. MODU’s Outdoor Room project for the 5th China International Architecture Biennial creates an urban public space that reactivates Beijing's iconic Olympic Park while focusing on the air quality crisis in Beijing. The competition-winning project will be open in Beijing through November 2013 and will be installed in six other cities in China.
Outdoor Room serves as an engaging urban public space and a barometer of Beijing’s well-documented air quality levels. Along with the weather report, daily readings of air particulate contaminant have become part of everyday urban life in Beijing. On most days, pollution creates a dense fog that transforms the city with an unsettling palette of colors—from dull grey to off-white and yellow-beige. On the occasional day of better air quality, urban forms suddenly materialize “out of the fog.” The concept of a city that disappears and reappears is central to the public experience of Outdoor Room. Inside the pavilion, a large elliptical roof opening provides a visual measure of the air quality. On days of good visibility, the roof void frames clear views of the Olympic Observation Tower and beyond to the National Stadium. On days of poor air quality, the landmarks virtually disappear from sight. The uncanny experience of a city disappearing and reappearing comes into focus from within Outdoor Room and draws attention to the crisis of air pollution in Beijing.
The design of Outdoor Roomprecipitated the concept of the “room in the city”andits converse, the“city in the room.” Viewed from the Olympic Park, the “room in the city” does not attempt to recreate the urban boundaries that separate polluted outdoor air from conditioned and filtered indoor air throughout Beijing. From within the public space, the openings between the fabric panels frame a “city in the room.” This “city in the room” offers changing views of the OlympicPark and the air that surrounds it. The glossy translucent fabric panels both reflect and transmit the color hue of the polluted air enveloping the city—from blue to grey to yellow. The torque geometry of the fabric panels reflects the colors differently, especially when viewed fromdifferent vantage points within Outdoor Room. All of the fabric panels were recycled from nearby exposition tent structures in the Olympic Park, highlighting existing environmental opportunities even in Beijing.