Coop Himmelb(l)au release designs for two major projects in China
The vastness of China can be witnessed from many perspectives, it is evident in maps, in its cultural make-up, its capacity for industrial output and, on a city level, in its architecture. In two cities roughly 1000 miles apart, Austrian architecture practise Coop Himmelb(l)au embarks upon separate projects which both replicate the monolithic scale of China.
The first, the Museum of Contemporary Art & Planning Exhibition (MoCAPE) merges two museums into one complex touted as an ‘Urban Monolith’. The complex will occupy an entire block in the south coast city of Shenzhen, near Hong Kong. Spreading outwards across the cityscape MoCAPE creates a domineering presence in the predominantly high-rise district using an alternative approach to scale, using only skylighting as a source of natural light and overhangs to further enhance the dominance or the building from street level.
The Second project, a multi-use Conference Center, breaks ground in Dalian, near the south east tip of China, and echoes MoCAPE’s scale at 1million m³. Designed to “both reflect the promising modern future of Dalian and its tradition as an important port, trade, industry and tourism city” the Dalian Conference Center is associative in its architectural concept rather than pictographic, taking on the softness of form as though eroded by forces of the sea. The design incorporates a public zone with shopping at ground level and a 1,900 seat theatre and 2,500 capacity conference space situated 15m above the entrance hall as floating spaces. Smaller conference spaces are situated around this core space.
“With the Dalian International Conference Center, a hybrid city within a building will emerge,” reads the design statement. “For the technical infrastructure of the building this means, that we have to consider a huge amount of people circulating inside the building at the same time, expecting high standards in circulation and comfort as well as a state of the art building concerning high flexibility, and low energy consumption and use of other resources.” In a country with a population of approximately 1.33 billion, Coop Himmelb(l)au’s two projects offer associatively scaled architecture and importantly, cultural spaces to enjoy the fruits of Chinese productivity.
Niki May Young