'Lightness, immateriality and fuzziness'

Friday 25 Oct 2013

Pavilions for Shanghai West Bund Biennial created by schmidt hammer lassen architects in just three months

From 19 October until 19 December, the waterfront in Shanghai will burst into life as the city celebrates the fields of architecture, art and theatre with the Shanghai West Bund Biennial for Architecture and Contemporary Art. As part of this two-month festival, Danish architects schmidt hammer lassen were invited to design a usable art installation and a series of support facility pavilions which are now being explored by local visitors.

The art installation has been named ‘The Cloud’ and is composed of a series of slender white ropes which sway gently in the coastal breeze. Kristian Lars Ahlmark, Partner at schmidt hammer lassen, explains: “The Cloud pavilion is the quintessence of lightness, immateriality and fuzziness.

“By hanging hundreds of white ropes from the pavilion’s ceiling, an effect is created where The Cloud is always changing. Visitors moving or a light breeze creates a subtle movement of the ropes, underlining the organic nature of the installation and the immateriality of the space. In Chinese culture, a cloud is an important symbol and a sign of good fortune.”

The Cloud is positioned next to one of two industrial cranes on Xuhui West Bank Riverside, symbolising ‘balance, performance and gravity’. schmidt hammer lassen’s installation looks to support these themes while encouraging visitors to engage with its fluid space, fostering interaction and activity.

In direct contrast, the associated support facility pavilions are composed for rest and relaxation, with calming views out towards the water and nearby bridge. Angled towards the waterfront, the pavilions host a bookshop, café and art gallery and are clad in Corten steel in a nod to the area’s industrial heritage.

“We have collaborated with the client, Xuhui Development Corporation, on a number of projects in and around the West Bank site in Shanghai and these projects are all still in design development. The biennial pavilions, however, were conceived, designed and built in only three months, which is a massive achievement and a sign of good collaboration between the client, Tongji University and schmidt hammer lassen architects,” stated Chris Hardie, Associate Partner and Head of schmidt hammer lassen architects’ Shanghai office.

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