Between defined; undefined_ ‘Typologies for expanding a community shared space along an elevated railway’
Allan Y. L. Chong
The project criticises the relationship between the elevated railway and the community in Beijing. It suggests various space configuration strategies that to optimise the walkability between two stations.
By unveiling the hidden layer, the teenager’s share space, within the context, the programme helps to divide the long strip in four spatial configuration typologies. The methodology also questions if the role of architect as to define every single space in purpose.
The project ends with a story which narrates a person who was exploring the new design from Wudaokao station in Beijing.
How important was the initial semester of research for the design project after?
It was kind of a starting point to look at how infrastructure affects the community. At first glance, I considered the initial research of Hong Kong as a precedent study of smart infrastructure, to delineate how an international city’s infrastructure influence the lifestyle. Then, I related it to my later study on Beijing and investigated how we can, as an architectural designer, involve in the early stage of community planning. Also, instead of comparing two sites, I started to criticise the relationship between architecture and infrastructure. This connection between two remains so ambiguous, as in a contemporary discourse, the effect of infrastructure is almost disengaged from the architectural quality. While we are encouraging the movement of smart-infrastructure, the initial preparation was a great opportunity to define the term, and also link it back to the architectural scale. For me, smart-infrastructure doesn’t really mean the advance technology and any high-tech hardware. For Beijing especially, smart-infrastructure relies on the clever planning of space instead of an exaggerated scale. It is not only a functional ‘machine’, but an urban weaver that ties a community with context and its identity.
How instrumental was the drawing as means to record & classify data?
I would rather take these drawings as sharing my experience of what I had involved and learnt from the 706 Youth Space. On the other hand, I think it is very difficult to let somebody to literally understand the exact same experience through any media. Because I believe experience is very personal that need to be perceived in the first person, like our gustatory perception. Therefore, I make use of a cartoon style to record the ‘data’, and I wish it will eventually be a bit surreal, thus, allowing people to have an imagination on the topic and explore the shared space if they have a chance.
To what extent did the first-hand experience on site shape your perception and view of this space/infrastructure?
I think every space has a ‘noise’ that cannot be read through either photos or texts. Only by feeling it in a first person, you may have a clue to response to the ‘noise’. It is not only about the context, it is a texture of a place. Through that experience, I believe the most important thing is that I could create a passion from the site, and from the experience in the community shared space.
What was your work process in terms of drawing and development of the project?
I think detail is a crucial element to identify a personality of a space. I began to record most of the spatial details during the site visit. Then, I usually drew the context of the site as the first action to approach the project. By drawing that, I can understand the background relationship and the potential of the design methodology.
What defined the language of representation of the project?
In a usual architectural representation, students usually create a set of drawings in order to fit the given size of panels. It seems to create a closed-end of a project, and leads the critics to discuss the ’10 minutes result’ which is, however, produced within a semester. This has been considered a trend in most of the architectural school. From my perspective, I think the most fundamental value in a tertiary education is to create a discourse of a problematic issue, especially in the architectural profession as we obtain social responsibilities. My project ends with a story of describing a person who was exploring the new design, and, simultaneously, it raises an awareness of the site issue through this unusual representation. I do not consider my project as a pure design, but rather a language to deliver messages, and to let the public think and imagine.
What is the effect and purpose of the booklet format?
I think the booklet format is another type of representation. It is a direct tool to conclude my works and to let the readers approach the project step by step.
How does the digital fit into this project and discussion of sharing?
I think digital indeed changes the lifestyle and the sharing condition. In a traditional media, like an advertisement, books, news, journal etc., there is a very little chance for achieving the concept of sharing. I believe that such a concept is a back and forth interaction. The appearances of digital aggregates a blurring power, which blurs the media boundary, community boundary, and profession boundary. The public can access the information smoothly which establishes an interaction between the sharers and receivers. For example, in the project, since the organisers of the shared space had created a digital platform through a mobile app, it means that the followers of the app from all around the world are ready to share any information without physical limitation. Although quality cannot be controlled in this scenario, it at least creates opportunities to interact and prepares for receiving knowledge.
Allan is a postgraduate candidate based in the University of Hong Kong (HKU). He earned his Undergraduate Degree in Newcastle University, the United Kingdom, with a final year project “Formless – An Alternative Typology for Preservation”. This project led Allan to be the RIBA President’s Bronze Medal winner in 2016.
His projects are also honoured with serval awards, including the winner of Non-Architecture Competition “Making”, Pilot Study on Underground Space Development Design Ideas Competition in Hong Kong, and the Newcastle University HB Saint William Bell Memorial Prize.
He has a strong enthusiasm in preservation and the latest technological advances with architecture and design, especially computation and robotics. Spending a semester in the Robotic Studio in his first HKU’s semester allows him to experience an advanced coding, fabrication and robotic skills.
In June 2018, he started a working experience in Junya.Ishigami+Associated in Tokyo.