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AIM Competition Report
Cultural Infusion : designing the last factory block in Beijing’s CBD
The low rise buildings of cable 8, located in Beijing’s CBD, a previous factory complex which has recently evolved into re-vitalized incubator for art & design, yet is in sharp contrast with its developed surroundings as it is only few blocks away from OMA’s famous icon, the CCTV Headquarter, is a critical site for the AIM first International Competition. Strategies and mechanism to improve the complex, making it more susceptible to the rapidly changing urban landscape, and perform better as cultural carrier and form a new relationship between site, program, form and technology, was the challenge of the competition.
Participants were free to either improve the existing buildings in Cable 8 or introduce new architecture. The transformation of the existing site into the urban scale of the CBD area was the main concern of the organizer of the competition, ZNA, a Boston-based architecture and urban design firm.
The Iranian Architects, Massoud Afsarmanesh and Ali Afsarmanesh won the competition by designing the new extension as a extended cultural complex with its own interior spaces as galleries, art workshops and public gathering spaces, etc, over the older space. The new complex which is all in glass avoids being a mass.
AIM Project Report
A myth is coming to protect the space; she is light, transparent, attractive and covering all.
A glass cover is to have all new spaces inside and is placed on old spaces and function with it-
The cover is not a mass; it is glittering in sky and attracts whole neighboring.
Process of design
There are some entries as stations, leads to the ramps as circulation and access to space over, the levels are like corridors around with big voids inside up to the cover.
Large columns covering structure, the installation and lifts to different levels.
Glass cover at last is glittering in sky specially seen from the air by planes and has a variety of facades in changing by sunlight radiations.
The cover also has an overhang on the pedestrian’s area which is glass and would show inside of the space especially at night.
The first prize went to Iranian architects Massoud Afsarmanesh and Ali Afsarmanesh, who designed a glass cover to place over the old space and function with it.
“They won the competition because their project was doable and practical. Their model was fluent, bright and eye-catching,” said Darren Chang, senior architect of ZNA. “Since China is promoting large, landmark structures, their design was exactly the kind we need,” he said.* [Beijing Today].
A French website gives its own description on the project:
The project involves the extensive use of glass, in a way that literally covers the building. The obvious advantage is to propose the structure as nearly transparent as possible and thus lessen its massive imposing side. The sky is visible from anywhere in the building. The light is natural light inside and this without restoring innumerable electric lights. A project is brief and beautifully energy efficient, when the design is ecologic and aesthetic.
Its view is spectacular from the sky in an airplane, the reflection of the sky in the glass façade is beautiful and is based on time, so the brightness of façade changes (during the day). Then interior is impressive with tall columns and large escalators.
The recently passed away architect, Massoud Afsarmanesh, exemplify a myth as a metaphor for the project:
“The beginning of architecture is a sense to me that I call it metaphor, maybe it is similar to a vision which is before the concept. The concept is an explicit and clear condition, the design will make it into architecture, but the metaphor should first be translated into concept.”
“…What was interesting for me was the idea of currency of the space as the natural way of life, so I felt a myth is helping to keep what was before, what is now and what is coming in future, this metaphor comes to an image, transparent, lightness and covering all”
“…,the concept of glass cover which we came together was the natural way of the design process.”
Ali Afsarmanesh, in the description of his father statement adds:”The circulation ramps inside, will cause an internal flow, in which one would start walking passing the old existing site (the past), walking through the higher levels leading to the new glass extension (the present) and in the end at the top, he will have a wide view of the Beijing in progress (the future).”
AIM Competition Beijing images / information from Ali Afsarmanesh