Multiplication vs. Unification

Junfeng Wang (website)
Harvard University Graduate School of Design
Option Studio
Brief: Art Gallery Addition
Faculty: Preston Scott Cohen (website)


The basic idea of the studio is to create pedagogy which will address a certain or several theoretical conundrums of contemporary architecture. The pedagogy in this project tries to deal with the relationship between multiplication and unification in architecture, namely how to unify different elements in architecture while still preserving the diversity they have produced.

The first task is to compose one façade, the geometry of which unifies the following spatial typologies from the ground floor up: semi-urban residual space, cellular galleries and open plan gallery space. The facade should not only unify these spaces, but also manifest their presence. In order to achieve that, the boundary of the floor changes from jagged to smooth while it arises, which generates the unified facade by sweeping these varied boundaries.

The second task is to add a strong and consistent formal order, a spiral or radial progression, to the building and force it to mutate by meeting other formal or programmatic demands. The mutation should produce composite forms of duality or even multiplicity.

In the project, the open plan gallery and the skylight rooftop forms a continual spiral system, which meets different functional demands by mutating between parallel and radial composition. Specifically, the spiral system starts from the gallery space, which follows the radial pattern of the lower floors, then it mutates into parallel steps which merges with the existing steps on the roof. After that the system again changes into radial pattern in order to quickly arise to the skylight rooftop. The whole system ends at the parallel skylight window, which provides the ideal path for the natural light to come into the gallery.

Except the unified multiplication, the project also tries to form a close relationship between the old and new. The main solution is to identify either a distinctive or hidden formal element in the existing building and redeploy it in the new building by means of anoth¬er formal language.

One of the formal elements is the existing extremely low entrance. The entrance of the addition adopts such lowness, yet with a new curvy language, which seemingly sucks the outside into the lobby space. This new formal language also tackles the way the building touches the ground when it tries to create the first spatial typology, which is the urban residual space.

The other formal element to redeploy is the existing chimney. Its monumentality has been largely neglected because of its peripheral location. The new addition and the existing gallery form a courtyard space which surrounds the chimney and enables it to be a centrally dominant figure. By doing so, the monumentality is redeployed with a formal language change from peripheral to central, from trivial to dominant.


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