Medium Is The Tool
Rong Zhao_M.arch GSAPP 2014
The site locates in Porto Maravilha in the centro area of Rio de Janeiro. Mill Fluminense used to be an important industry factory in Rio. As industry lost its role in histo¬ry and new shipping method arises, the port becomes abandoned for decades. Rio has been famous around the world as an ideal destination for tourists both domestic and international. But people usually forget that Rio de janeiro as a city with a history of over 450 years, has tremendous sources of cultural heritage. My proposal focuses on turning Mill Fluminense from its industrial part into a infrastucture that serves the local community but also attract tourists by the means of building a green belt system that links the existing culture heritage from the port to nearby neighborhood.
I propose a long-term ecological economy strategy for the Porto Mar¬avilha District. My proposal starts with transforming the Port Maravilha district into a new Historical Tourism destination. In order to do that, we creates a pedestrian-friendly green belt along the port area, linking the not only the existing public open space in that neighborhood but also the main historical tourist attractions. The green belt also works as a physical bar¬rier between the favelas and the tourist zone to guarantee the safety of the tourists, a buffer to compromise the conflicts between the formal and informal world.
The greenbelt system link the fragamented urban fabric from port area all the way to resi-dential neighborhood.It exists as elevated walkaway betweens building in the mill factory and becomes elevated path above the bus line in the neighborhood. It gives shape to a green network connected to the existing city parks. At the local level, single voids, together with the new paths that intercept them, are translated into a continuous system of collective green open spaces. In order to provide suf¬ficient intensity of public use to the new hierarchy of streets, parks, etc, the strategy involves their hybridization with elements derived from the world of sport, art and urban agriculture.
Who influences you graphically?
I’m really interested in photography. Photographers like Garry Winogrand, Bernd and Hella Becher are some of my favorites. Different from making architecture drawings, taking photo is more like a quick reaction of selecting the part of the world that you choose to compose into your photos. But the part where you put focus on and your range in view finder is the same as doing an architecture drawing. I think about that all the time when I do drawings.
What is the effect and purpose of monochromatic images?
I do feel the limitation of traditional plan, section and perspective architecture drawings. There are information of ideas lost by putting architecture design into rigid drawing standards. Monochromatic images give me an opportunity to explore and include thoughts from art, music and etc. More importantly, it just keeps my mind open.
You explore projects both through drawings and through video/animation, how do you chose the medium of the project?
I do enjoy exploring and trying new medium. I simply just find the medium of each project that carries my idea and concept best. Like for camouflaged diplomacy, I use photo collage to talk about the duality of diplomatic strategy. It is an important that architects can convey ideas visually.
To what extent is the medium the message?
Medium is a tool. There’s more information of each projects but it’s like directing a movie, it’s not necessary to show details in every scene.
How does your works with illustration and photograph influence your architectural work?
Illustration helps to convey my architectural concept in a more interesting and visual way. It is a bridge connecting with audience. Photograph influences me to better work on drawing composition. They also help to shape my graphic style.
Rong Zhao is an architect currently living and working in New York City. After graduating from M.arch program at Columbia University’s Graduate school of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. She has worked at various architecture offices in Tokyo, Shanghai, and New York. Besides architecture, she is also passionate about photography, pottery and painting.