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How can the Beijing National Aquatics Centre be understood in relation to ‘form’?

 

Essay Word Count: 3016 words

Abstract

The Beijing National Aquatic Centre is located to the west of the Olympic Green as well as to the west of the national stadium popularly known as the Bird’s Nest.  The design of the centre encompasses modern technology oriented in Chinese traditional values.  The design is a blend of both Chinese and Australian conceptions in a square earth as well as in a round heaven to form the central theme.  At the same time, the cube epitomizes ancient urban themes and the design is based on traditional style which meets functional requirements.

The centre is made of ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) membrane insulations and is the first large scale public project to employ this technology.  Seen from outside, it looks like a huge box, thus getting its nickname “ice cube” from its looks.  In addition, it is blue in order to reflect the sun, however, from inside, it has pneumatic cushions of all sizes just like sea bubbles.  In making the centre, different high technologies were utilised.

Thus this paper will discuss the various morphology and morphogenesis theories related to the different forms of technology that went in to the creation of the Water Cube structure. It will also discuss the semiotics as used to enhance communication in this Water Cube in order to try and establish the core theme, which is the Water Cube as a means of communication in regard to the Chinese culture.

In addition, this paper will also examine the form of the water cube as it may be manifested in the Chinese culture through Yin and Yang as well as the potential relationship with the Bird’s Nest.  The colour of the building will also be examined in the light of water cubes, blue bubbles as well as its lighting element as related to harmony.

 

 

Introduction

Background information

The National Aquatics Centre, Water Cube is a renowned building within the architectural world in terms of design and physical presence.  The building is located on the western side of the Landscape Avenue in the vicinity of the famed Olympic Green and near the Bird’s Nest stadium, the Beijing National Stadium.  The centre encompasses the 2008 Olympics’ state of the art swimming facility.  The building’s construction commenced on 24th December 2003, and came to a completion on 1st January 2008[1].  The building has the following measurements: 177 meters in length, 177 meters broad, and 30 meters tall and covers a total area of 62,950 square meters or 75,287 square yards.  The building further encompasses four floors within it – that is to say, one street level on the ground floor, two on top of the other and one below.  The floor covers a total of 79,532 square meter or 95,119 square yards, whilst the underneath street area is not more than 15,000 square meters or 17,939 square yards in coverage.  The street level below is designed to serve as a state-of-the-art service area during the Olympics.  Basically, the first floor is planned for tourists[2].  The conspicuously designed auditorium is located on the second floor that has a total exactly of 6,000 seats, while the movable seats in the auditorium are 2,000 in total, and 11,000 are provisional seats.  The third floor is designed and reserved strictly for business purposes.  The National Aquatics Centre is visibly seen from a distance as an enormous blue container, hence its renowned name: the Water Cube.  The Water Cube is distinctly blue in colour in order for it to reflect sunlight similar to pearls in water.  When inside the Water Cube, one can see that the pneumatic designed cushions resemble sea bubbles.  In addition, the Water Cube is designed to meet the sustainable technology in the world hence seemingly environmentally acquiescent to the natural surroundings[3] (figure 1).

 

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Figure 1: Master Plan

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Figure 2: Elevation and Functional Section

Morphogenesis and Morphology

Morphogenesis is derived from the Greek terms ‘morphe’(shape/form) and ‘genesis’ (creation)[4] (figure 3).  

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Figure 3-The distinctive tectonic articulation of the library’s cantilevering volumes is developed through generative computational processes driven by spatial and structural criteria.

 

Morphology is described as the study of forms[5].  This definition by the famous Geothe presented a platform for contemporary morphology.  In other words it is a scientific technique that gives a phylogenetic, ontogenetic as well as a systematic knowledge of nature.  Morphogenesis is a concept used in a varied number of disciplines, such as biology, engineering, crystallography, art, architecture among others.  In the field of architecture, morphogenesis is referred to as a group of techniques that makes use of digital media and is not used as a representational tool for visualisation[6].

However, it is used as a generative tool to develop and transform an aspiration which conveys the contextual process in built form.  Morphology basically entails adopting a new form and undergoing a metamorphic change and forms a new one.  Nonetheless, this causes one to inquire how a continual differentiation takes place, transformation takes place and the new formed object performs in regard to the specified environment[7]. Therefore, what does developmental biology and architecture have in common? Developmental biology could be used to give an insight toward how the morphology and morphogenesis theory are related to have created the Water Cube structure. Developmental biology is characterised by three main spheres: morphogenesis, cell growth, as well as cell differentiation[8].  Cell growth involved the growth of new sizes and number of cells, while cell differentiation describes the procedure which a cell obtains a new form(figure 4).

 

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Figure 4- The parasite project – Structure and interior space from the form of cells.

These two aspects are used by architectures in developing new designs such as the semiotic structures of the Water Cube.

Water Cube Form Represents Chinese Culture

The Water Cube design consists of the combination of modern technologies and Chinese custom values in design.  The Chinese Culture in the Water Cube design was conceptualised from a round sky and a square ground[9]

 Therefore, the designers’ main theme in coming up with the building’s structure and final product.  Moreover, the design is a common facet in urban Chinese buildings.  The designers ensured that the National Aquatics Centre’s structure is planned in regard to the Chinese traditional technique in order to find all of its intended functional requirements.  The National Aquatics Centre has a peculiar design that makes it distinct from other buildings.  In fact, the building is renowned to be the first of its kind to be designed under the ‘soap bubble’ theory as well as polyhedral steel framed[10].

 

Morphology and Morphogenesis Theory and Water Cube Structure

Morphology and Morphogenesis Theory

Morphology is defined as the study of forms and space[11].  The concept of morphology involves morphogenesis which encompasses of procedures that lead to the development of the spatial distribution of cells which result from an embryonic growth of an organism, hence creating varied features of tissues, organ, and generally the whole body structure. The Morpho-Ecologies concept takes up the theory of morphogenesis and relaying to the method of growing material systems by making inquiries for scale as well as the size of specific conduct and the related performance capacities[12].  This aptly entails the exposure of the material systems at every stage of development in regard to a series of extrinsic influence and stimuli which are given by a certain environment.

Another example that relates and supports the concept morphology is the use of natural morphogenesis.  This is a process that involves the evolutionary growth and development which creates polymorphic systems.  Natural morphogenesis can be referred to as a hierarchical display of materials which show mutuality in scale dependent articulation as well as a high level of integration transversely on all scales[13].  This type of morphogenesis has two features that make them indivisible, and they include its formation as well as materialisation.  In contrast, structural design is described by prioritising the creation over an intrinsic material logic.  All the materials in this phenomenon are CNC mechanised into sophisticated hysterical forms; this is attributed to the ability of the contemporary manufacturing being able to form these shapes with slight consideration of the performative capacities and the morphological capacities[14].  The resulting effect of the use of natural morphogenesis is the design of the shape of a building.  This is done by making reference to the means of materialisation, the process of production as well as the construction in architecture[15].

Morphology Theory Applies To Water Cube

The Water Cube morphology encompasses the use of ancient shapes of Chinese house structures which is also related to expressing art, the floor of the Water Cube is related to the Chinese culture of a square ground on earth[16].  The architecture of this structural building used digital morphology concept to create pillows or pneumatic cushions which were transparent materials from ETFE.  These structures were filled with air, hence fulfilling their desire of forming bubbles on a water cube like structure[17].  In fact the morphology theory in biology was used as a source of their brainwave in their architectural efforts to design the Water Cube.  Through biomimetics one is able to mimic nature’s structures and apply it in contemporary architecture [18].

The morphology theory also applies to the Water Cube formation as it encompassed the use of digital computation.  Its structural design was also widely based on the development of the most proficient use of 3-dimensional space[19].  These aspects allowed the architectural team which developed the Water Cube to apply the varied principles of morphology which include biology, engineering, crystallography, art, architecture among others. Moreover, it is evident from the use of digital computation that architecture morphogenesis used techniques that involve the  use of digital media, thereby creating or generating a tool to develop and transform an aspiration which conveys the contextual process of construction/building.

This is evident from the use of a repetitive structural design in forming the bubbles on the Water Cube [20](figure 5).

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Figure 5- Form, foam and the molecular structure of water create the form of Water Cube.

In fact, when observed from a distance one is able to notice this repetition of patterns, hence one can conclude that there is the use of architectural morphology with a somewhat similar morphology in semiotics. 

 

Representation of Nature

The water bubble façade of the Water Cube is attributed to the designers’ source of inspiration which is a biological morphology which in turn motivated the use of an architectural morphology to emulate the actual nature of this new found phenomenon [21](figure 6). 

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Figure 6-The facade of Water Cube and the Interior Space.

 

According to Arup, an in-depth analysis reveals that the architectures used the ETFE to form surfaces of pneumatic cushions of the facade, and this was approximated to have a single percent of the mass of glass. 

The natural structure of the buildings patterns were also inspired from soap bubbles, which forced them to develop and use an inimitable part of geometry to ensure that building includes a highly recurring pattern that could be easily replicated and have a form similar to its original source of inspiration[22].

Architecture Semiotics and Chinese Culture

Architecture semiotics

Architecture semiotics has been brought about by the concern by semioticians by creating a relationship between people and the environment and vice versa.  However, it contradicts the traditional cognitive approach of the human understanding of the environment, advanced by Venturi, Robert [23](figure 7).  

ImageImage

 

Figure 7-The Long Island Ducking and Building as a Sign.

Therefore, semiotic encapsulation acts as an intermediary agent of transformation and communication.  This is done through sign systems conventions.  It promotes an indicative language that passes a message either subjectively or objectively to the viewer and continually reflecting some sense of cultural importance, space, and time capture[24].  However, architectural semiotic goes beyond this and is far more complex than graphic symbolism and language because it also acts on intercessory perception.  They are two critical aspects of a semiotic structure, the surface, and the other innate meaning (deep structure).  This means that surface structure expresses the extrinsic form that reflects information to the audience, whereas the deep structure expresses a kind of form and need[25].  Therefore, this would be influenced by the local culture, history social environment and underline circumstances that are required to be expressed by the architectural structure[26].

Charles Sanders Pierce argues that image is equivalent to a symbol even when the subject does not exist[27].  He explains that every symbol is, in its origin, an image of the specific idea being signified, or a reminiscence of a given original occurrence, human or thing, linked with its meaning, if not a metaphor.  Semiotics or the study of semiosis affects humans in significant ways, as it entails an approach of understanding the human condition along with the universe in general[28].  Architecture is said to be the most complicated system of semiotics considering that a building enhances the all-wave human senses of visual, aural, and tactile.

The process of creating architecture semiotics entails great degree of thinking involving human being’s psychological activity helped by imagination, retreatment, and recreating. This is especially because human thoughts are the determinants of the communication level between the architecture semiotics and themselves to a larger extent.  Architecture semiotics and the structuralism provided a lot of guiding thoughts during the design process of Water Cube where architects integrated much life passion and inspiration.  The creations of the concept, form, and space were grounded on the architecture itself taking into consideration that each kind of elements and conditions, the slashing requirements by the owner, thus creating the self-logic or order form for the building.  In addition, the design of the Water Cube was based on basic structuralism method of self-duplicate diagram, function, sequence, and space as opposed to some symbolist semiotics or intellectuality transition.

The Water Cube in all its aspects brings out every aspect of the Chinese culture.  Viewing from a long distance, the Water Cube does not appear as huge as it is ought to be and it gives no invasive feeling at the ground.  As a composite thing that exists in a spatial simultaneity, architecture is a very real sense.  By definition, individual sense refers to the unfolding in real time of a particular set of possibilities given in space common in the Chinese culture.  This set of possibilities shared in the population.  The systematic architecture refers to a system of signs of space form and order[29].  The Water Cube design was conceptualised from round heaven and a square earth, hence the designers’ central theme in coming up with the building’s structure and final product.  Moreover, the design is a common facet in urban Chinese buildings.  Architecture enters this sense of arbitrary and differential and becomes a constituent unit in the semiotic system.  Helped by the common signifier that dictates our comprehension of these buildings, it is a sign which can only be intelligibly understood in the context of a certain cultural understanding.

The Water Cube was designed to work specifically in harmony with its circular main (called the Bird’s Nest) with the aim of creating a visual of a “yin and yang” balance[30](figure 8).

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Figure 8-Water Cube and The Bird’s Nest Creating balance in form, colour and structure related to nature.

 

  A popular hypothesis explaining the origin of the universe known as the hemispherical dome came to be associated.  The National Stadium represented the vault sky and the Water Cube was the square ground, thereby reflecting the tradition context and social historical aspect (figure 9).

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Figure 9-Round Sky and a Square Ground from traditional Chinese culture.

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The Water Cube creates geometry of water bubbles into rectangular structures.  The lighting fixture uses LED lighting which illuminates the bubbles designs from the translucent walls.  This allows the building to glow with the possibility of colour-changing LED light (figure 10).

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Figure 10-72 Colours LED Lighting System.

 

Conclusion

 The National Aquatic Centre in Beijing is one among the leading hallmarks of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games hosted in the country owing to its dramatic and exciting as well as captivating structural design.  It represents one of the country’s most famous pieces of modern architecture.  For instance, its external structural design and engineering achieved an appearance and shape inspired by the national formation of soap bubbles which is very rare in any part of the world.  It was also built using the state-of-the-art technology and materials in order to achieve a visually appealing structure which was more than just a pretty look.  This further served to showcase the level of development in regard to technology by the country.

Moreover, in order to exemplify the role and level of technological advancement of the country, the design concept of the centre addresses three core aspects of the Beijing Olympic games, namely, technology, environment, as well as culture.  In addition to this, the centre themes of the design is the core objective of water conservation which is a very valuable commodity in the northern part of the country as it is in many other places in the world.  For instance, the outer membranes are self cleaning with water collection characteristics by which the roof façade alone can collect over 10,000 tons of rain water, 70,000 tons of clean water as well as 60,000 tons of swimming pool water in a year. Furthermore, the building technology of the centre enables the centre to make use of solar energy for heating both the swimming pool water and the interior area while all the backwash water is filtered before being returned to the pool which saves over 140,000 tons of water in a year.  Additionally, the centre has light weight cladding which further allows for a lighter internal structure which is built using less steel in comparison to a conventional glass clad structure which represents another significant aspect further saving. So as it stands today, the national aquatics centre represent a great propensity for tourist attraction.  Thus truly, the national aquatic centre in Beijing is a good example that applying the combination of morphology theory and semiotic theory which is a real heritage to be proud of in the country.

 


Bibliography

 

  1. Arup, “ National Aquatics Centre (Water Cube)”, accessed November 3, 2013, http://www.arup.com/Projects/Chinese_National_Aquatics_Center/Details.aspx.

 

  1. Chan, Bernard. New Architecture in China. London, UK: Merrell, 2005.

 

  1. China Construction Design International. CCDI Architecture: Design for China’s Future. Melbourne, Australia: Images Publishing, 2008.

 

  1. Dean, Penelope Jane. “Delivery without Discipline: Architecture in the Age of Design.” University of California. (Los Angeles, 2008).

 

  1. Juodinyte-Kuznetsova, Kristina. “Architectural Space and Greimassian Semiotics.” Socialiniu Mokslu Studijos 3, no. 4 (2011), accessed November 6, 2013, http://search.proquest.com/docview/1426199128?accountid=11243.

 

  1. Kirsten Orr, “Thinking Beyond the Square: Innovation Theory and Technology Transfer As They Apply To the Beijing Water Cube” (2009) pp. 1-9.
  2. Lisa Nadile, NFPA Journal – “The Water Cube”, (Mar, 2008) pp. 51-53.

 

  1. Michael Hensel and Achim Menges, “Designing Morphogenesis – versatility and vicissitude of Heterogeneous space” pp.102-111.

 

  1. Micheal Hensel and Achim Menges, “Towards all inclusive discourse on heterogeneous architecture “ pp. 17-28.

 

  1. Martin Krampen, “Semiotics in Architecture and Industrial Design” pp.124-139.

 

  1. Monika Bilska, Marta Nagaska, “Digital Morpgpgensis” (Dessau Institute of Architecture 2006) pp. 34-37.

 

  1. Nadile, Lisa. “The Water Cube.” NFPA Journal 102, no. 2 (Mar, 2008): 51-53, accessed November 6, 2013, http://search.proquest.com/docview/216388257?accountid=11243.

 

  1. Petra Gruber “The signs of life in Architecture “(Vienna, Austria) pp. 2-9.

 

  1. Penelope Jane Dean, “Delivery without Discipline: Architecture in the Age of Design.” University of California, (Los Angeles, 2008).

 

  1. Qi Wang, Tim Heath, “Social Semiotics – towards a universal language of the built environment” (Nottingham, 2010).

 

  1. Reese, Candice. “Architecture and Urban Design as Influences on the Communication of Place and Experience in Graphic Design.” (Rochester Institute of Technology, 2009), accessed November 4, 2013, http://search.proquest.com/docview/305065746?accountid=11243.

 

  1. Rehmeyer, Julie. .A Building Of Bubbles. 2008, accessed November 6, 2013, https://www.sciencenews.org/article/building-bubbles.

 

  1. Stanislav, Rpudavski, “International Journal of Architecture Computing – Towards Morphogenesis in Architecture“. pp: 345-351.

 

  1. Venturi, Robert, and Denise Scott Brown. “part 1: A significance for A & P parking lots, or learning from Las Vegas.” In learning from Las Vegas, edited by Robert Ventrui, Denise Scott Brown and Steven Izenour, 3-73. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 1972.

 

  1. Xinhua Report on National Aquatic Centre Known as Water Cube.” Xinhua (Provided by World News Connection), June 4, 2008, accessed on November 6, 2013, http://search.proquest.com/docview/846787613?accountid=11243.

 

  1. Zou, Patrick X. W. and Rob Leslie-Carter. “Lessons Learned from Managing the Design of the ‘Water Cube’ National Swimming Centre for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.” (Architectural Engineering and Design Management 6, no. 3, 2010) pp: 175-188, accessed November 6, 2013, http://search.proquest.com/docview/756346872?accountid=11243.

 

  1. Zheng, Shiling,: “Design for China’s Future”(2009) pp.35-45.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


[1] Lisa Nadile, NFPA Journal The Water Cube, (Mar, 2008) pp. 51-53.

[2] China Construction Design International. CCDI Architecture: Design for China’s Future. (Melbourne, Australia: Images Publishing, 2008) pp.3-15

[3] Lisa Nadile, NFPA Journal The Water Cube, (Mar, 2008) pp. 51-53.

[4] Monika Bilska, Marta Nagaska, “Digital Morpgpgensis” (Dessau Institute of Architecture 2006) pp. 34-37.

[5] Michael Hensel and Achim Menges, “Designing Morphogenesis – versatility and vicissitude of Heterogeneous space” pp.102-111.

[6] Micheal Hensel and Achim Menges, “Towards all inclusive discourse on heterogeneous architecture “ pp. 17-28.

[7] Stanislav, Rpudavski, “International Journal of Architecture Computing – Towards Morphogenesis in Architecture“. pp: 345-351.

[8] Michael Hensel and Achim Menges, “Designing Morphogenesis – versatility and vicissitude of Heterogeneous space” pp.102-111.

[9] Kirsten Orr, “Thinking Beyond the Square: Innovation Theory and Technology Transfer As They Apply To the Beijing Water Cube” (2009) pp. 1-9.

[10] Chan, B 2005, New architecture in China, Merrell, London.

[11] Michael Hensel and Achim Menges. Morpho-Ecologies. 2010, accessed November 6, 2013, http://digitalecology.files.wordpress.com/2009/12/hensel-menges_morphoecologies.pdf.

[12] Michael Hensel and Achim Menges. Morpho-Ecologies. 2010, accessed November 6, 2013, http://digitalecology.files.wordpress.com/2009/12/hensel-menges_morphoecologies.pdf.

[13] Monika Bilska, Marta Nagaska, “Digital Morpgpgensis” (Dessau Institute of Architecture 2006) pp. 34-37.

[14] China Construction Design International. CCDI Architecture: Design for China’s Future. Melbourne, Australia: Images Publishing, 2008.

[15] Patrick X. W. Zou and Rob Leslie-Carter. “Lessons Learned from Managing the Design of the ‘Water Cube’ National Swimming Centre for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.” Architectural Engineering and Design Management 6, no. 3 (2010): 175-188, accessed November 6, 2013, http://search.proquest.com/docview/756346872?accountid=11243.

[16] [16] Kirsten Orr, “Thinking Beyond the Square: Innovation Theory and Technology Transfer As They Apply To the Beijing Water Cube” (2009) pp. 1-9.

[17] Julie Rehmeyer, .A Building Of Bubbles. 2008, accessed November 6, 2013, https://www.sciencenews.org/article/building-bubbles.

[18] China Construction Design International. CCDI Architecture: Design for China’s Future. Melbourne, Australia: Images Publishing, 2008.

[19] Stanislav, Rpudavski, “International Journal of Architecture Computing – Towards Morphogenesis in Architecture“. pp: 345-351..

[20] China Construction Design International. CCDI Architecture: Design for China’s Future. Melbourne, Australia: Images Publishing, 2008.

[21] Arup. National Aquatics Center (Water Cube), accessed November 6, 2013, http://www.arup.com/Projects/Chinese_National_Aquatics_Center/Details.aspx.

[22] Stanislav, Rpudavski, “International Journal of Architecture Computing – Towards Morphogenesis in Architecture“. pp: 345-351.

[23] Venturi, Robert, and Denise Scott Brown. “part 1: A significance for A & P parking lots, or learning from Las Vegas.” In learning from Las Vegas, edited by Robert Ventrui, Denise Scott Brown and Steven Izenour, 3-73. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 1972.

[24] Venturi, Robert, and Denise Scott Brown. “part 1: A significance for A & P parking lots, or learning from Las Vegas.” In learning from Las Vegas, edited by Robert Ventrui, Denise Scott Brown and Steven Izenour, 3-73. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 1972.

[25] Martin Krampen, “Semiotics in Architecture and Industrial Design” pp.124-139.

[26] Candice Reese, “Architecture and Urban Design as Influences on the Communication of Place and Experience in Graphic Design.” Order No. 1464527, Rochester Institute of Technology, 2009, accessed November 6, 2013, http://search.proquest.com/docview/305065746?accountid=11243.

[27] Penelope Jane Dean, “Delivery without Discipline: Architecture in the Age of Design.” Order No. 3357361, University of California, Los Angeles, 2008, accessed November 6, 2013, http://search.proquest.com/docview/304656745?accountid=11243.

[28] Penelope Jane Dean, “Delivery without Discipline: Architecture in the Age of Design.” Order No. 3357361, University of California, Los Angeles, 2008, accessed November 6, 2013, http://search.proquest.com/docview/304656745?accountid=11243.

[29] Petra Gruber “The signs of life in Architecture “(Vienna, Austria) pp. 2-9.

[30] Qi Wang, Tim Heath, “Social Semiotics – towards a universal language of the built environment” (Nottingham, 2010).

Blog Journal of keystone précis

Curtain as Architecture

In its structure, the Casa de Musica is a sight to behold. Its location makes it stick out like a sore thumb – in the middle of the old city of Porto. The structure is built of white concrete and has countless steps and different rooms. The rooms are different not only in size but also in shape and have spectacular views. It is an illustration of great architecture.

 

The curtains were part of the design in this building. However, the true range of their technical performance was unclear and could only be understood as the process of conceptualization continued. Not surprisingly, the architect’s inclusion of curtains was purely meant to serve a visual purpose.  Tests were done to determine the appropriate colour, texture and fabric for the curtains. The tests revealed that even the smallest shift in position, scale, material or structure has a considerable impact on the performance and potential of a room. [1]

Six separate curtains were made for the concert halls. While some curtain layers are barely recognizable, others have a three dimensional rhythmic structure and take up space as much as they are space in themselves. Types of curtains used are sun screening, blackout/acoustic and view-filtering.

 

The shape and design of the concert halls were meant to integrate sound, air, light, curtain storage and machinery. These were all meant to be a part of the actual building. Walls of varying degrees of transparency and mass were incorporated to create an acoustic and atmospheric feel to the rooms. Other features noted in the rooms are sound-reflecting and absorbing surfaces, orchestra pit and public – with all planes, forms and volumes, hard and soft, porous and massive. [2]

 

For efficient functionality, the architects, users, contractors, theatre and acoustic engineers and the production people, must approve every curtain idea developed. A lot of time, knowledge, research and resources went into the development of the Casa de Musica; and the result is truly a remarkable sight.

 

Second Skin

 

This essay considers the use of skin in design. Elements of the skin that mirror design elements are: its ability to change in shape, its response to different environments, its density or porosity and its elasticity. On the inside is where all the important functionalities take place. There are designers in the 21st century who use skin as an example to experiment with complicated structure to design innovative surfaces for products and buildings. [3] This has resulted in the creation of skin-like objects to help create the natural surface of the skin. Numerous examples of skin-like materials exist. Thin planes of material are molded, warped or pumped with air to become load-bearing structures while materials that react to light, heat, touch and mechanical stress are used.

 

In the 1940s and 1950s, organic forms and materials provided designers with a humanist vocabulary that resulted in a technologically enhanced body.  Examples of designs inspired by the human form are: Hersog and de Menron’s ‘Jingzi’ lamp, Mathieu Manche’s ‘Fresh’ latex vest and Hella Jongerius ‘Pushed’ washbasin. Materials used to make these designs are techno-gel, latex and apligraf. The visual effect created on the design creates the aesthetic impression of the human body.

 

Developments in the creation of such materials have been noted. Environmentalists warn against an ecosystem unhinged by genetically altered species. While living skin has become a commercially manufactured product, objects and buildings have come to resemble natural organisms. [4] The result is the ushering in of an era of the unknown. Though they protect us from invisible danger, these industrial skins may be nurturing something that we have never seen. In fact they could in fact be the beginning of the creation of an alien.

 

Surface-Driven Architecture

 

A noted shift in interest exists to the theories if Deleuze and Guattari who put more emphasis on transitions, experimentation and material presence. New digital design tools have enabled architects to appreciate their work at the surface level much more. With technological advancements, architectural design has been integrated into the virtual world as well. This has resulted in the creation of displays that have a greater appreciation and mastery of surface effects.

 

This article summarily presupposes that contemporary architecture denotes a process of surfacing, which results resulting in more emphasis on the surface level. This results in the neglect of the dialectic Derridean theories of language. As the term suggests, surfacing denotes actual surfaces – those that one can touch and feel.  Surfacing is the process of making a concept visible. An architect pictures a design in his mind, surfacing causes it to become experientially apparent. Coupled by emerging computer technologies in architecture, more priority is placed on surfacing.

 

The growing popularity of this theory is linked to pessimism and shallowness. The argument that surfacing serves to conceal or mask a greater element is too extreme. The surface also reveals what has been concealed depending on its appearance, feel and design. It is a sense giving something virtual a surface or a body.

 

Surfaces need not be hyper to fuse the material with the spirit of the design. Hypersurfacing, as the term connotes, involves the creation of a surface that is more pronounced in its expression and an act of falling into the surface. However, to fall into the surface one should concur that every surface is always surfacing.

 

In conclusion, technological developments are a major contributor to a renewed prioritization of surface and surface effects. Architecture has always been an act of surfacing. [5] The new concept in architecture combines Deleuzian theories and digital technologies. The result is a merge between surface and structure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bibliography

Islami, S. Yahya. “Surface-Driven Architecture.” 671-681.

Lupton, Ellen, “Beauty and Economics:  Second Skin –  New Design Organics, ” (2002), 122-135.

Musica, Casa da. “Curtain as Architecture –  Sound View and Light Regulating Curtains , ” (1999 – 2005),  364-385.

 

 


[1]Musica, Casa da. “Curtain as Architecture Sound View and Light Regulating Curtains , (1999 – 2005),  364-385.

[2]Musica, Casa da. “Curtain as Architecture Sound View and Light Regulating Curtains , (1999 – 2005),  364-385.

[3] Lupton, Ellen, “Beauty and EconomicsSecond Skin New Design Organics, ” (2002), 122-135.

[4] Lupton, Ellen, “Beauty and EconomicsSecond Skin New Design Organics, ” (2002), 122-135.

[5] Islami, S. Yahya. “Surface-Driven Architecture.” 671-681.

How can the Beijing National Aquatics Centre be understood in relation to ‘form’?

Part A – Abstract

Introduction

The names National Aquatics Centre, Water Cube, and Beijing national Aquatics Centre refer to one and the same thing. It refers to an aquatics centre that was constructed alongside the Beijing National Stadium to aid in the swimming competitions held during the Summer Olympics of 2008.

Topic/ Question

How does morphology as well as the impact of new technology and innovation have reflected on the Beijing national Aquatics Centre.

Background information

The building uses PTW with ETFE to create a unique and lightweight building. Therefore, creating a structure of ‘water’ in the state of aggregation of foam. In addition, the randomization appearance skins the geometry that can be found in crystals and cells. The building uses materials that visual striking, energy efficient and ecologically friendly. The Water Cube, therefore, embraces a design which reflects a form of water in an urban set-up but embedding principles of traditional Chinese architecture using the latest technologies to achieve this. As a consequence it creates a cross-pollination of ideas between culture, architecture and engineering principles, making the Water Cube entirely unique.

Statement defining the topic

The Beijing national Aquatics Centre is regarded as an exceptional Chinese cultural traditions’ coalescence, where the built environment embraces rectilinearity and axial arrangements. According to Auerbach,[1] the present Western trends in regard to asymmetric organic structures and forms are founded on its nature.

Plan of coverage

l  The morphology and morphogenesis theory

l  The molecular structure of water

l  The impact of structural system and the use of exterior material

l  The impact of spatial interior related to membrane structure

Body

Comprising a steel space frame, it is the largest ETFE clad structure in the world with over 100,000 m² of ETFE pillows that are only 0.2 mm in total thickness. [2] Unlike traditional stadium structures with gigantic columns and beams, cables and back spans, to which a facade system is applied, in the water cube design the architectural space; structure and facade are one and the same element.

Conclusion

The concept of Water Cube combines the symbolism of the square in Chinese culture and the natural structure of soap bubbles translated into architectural form.

Part B Analytical Diagrams

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model3
water


[1] Auerbach, Jeffrey A. The Great Exhibition of 1851: A Nation on Display.( New Haven: Yale, 1999).

[2]Best of What’s New 2006 – Engineering“.( Popular Science , 2006), 269 (6): 84–85.