“Let life be beautiful like summer flowers.”It’s not hard to find the prosperity and desolation of a tree, flowers bloom and fade, the path of light and shadow from the house in one day, and the alternation of four seasons. They are all traces of life. However have we ever observed the beginning and end of a building? Mies Van De Rohe once said:”Architecture began with a careful overlap between two bricks.” It seems that architecture is more like a wild animal, which has been fully developed, and put into use and performed its functions since it was born. We also name ‘architecture’ in many ways, museums, offices, railway stations, residences, restaurants, and so on. But when MOA was born, I don’t think it was ever really defined.
▼建筑外貌，view of the studio ©陈颢
MOA is a temporary architecture. The original intention was to build a branch office of Atelier GOM in the West Bund. In the beginning, it was actually named West Bund Courtyard, because the architect is a Weiqi lover, and GOM(Gaomu) is the term used in Weiqi, besides, MOA(Muwai) and GOM(Gaomu) are all in a more detached position in Weiqi, hence the architect changed its name into MOA. For this building perhaps only lasting 5-10 years, the architect didn’t expect too much. “Since it can’t last long, then let it be beautiful like summer flowers!” When the thin, precise steel members were carefully joined together, the skeleton of MOA was full. In the sunrise and sunset of the West Bund, it stood in peace and waited for its soul to come. The architect looked at the skeleton of it and felt the power of the beginning of life. “This building can be whatever it wants to be.”
▼建筑骨架，the skeleton ©张佳晶
When constructing this building, we can say the architect is quite “casual” and “undisciplined”. He wants it to be as light as possible, and could feel the wind, the rain, and the sun without reserve. MOA is a comprehensive architecture, it welcomes everything even flying birds, stray cats and dogs. In order to fill the building with the light, the top and the vertical interface all adopt the material with good light transmission and diffuse reflection properties. The lighting board filters the direct sunlight, and leaves the soft diffuse light. The corrugated metal perforated plate lets the light and the wind pass through freely, and also makes the trees and clouds become blurred. The dimensions of all steel members are controlled within 10cm, the architect was obsessed with the vault design then, and the arch is more conducive to the structural design, so the architect built the arch frame with the hot bending steel pipes. The roof was hung with white advertising banner and later replaced by the perforated aluminum plate which has good light transmission properties. Perhaps, just because of the lightness and fragility of this building, MOA impresses us with a magic moment, a delicate balance between construction and non-construction.When we experience it, we can feel free and peace.
▼拱形屋顶广告布与穿孔铝板的置换，the roof was hung with white advertising banner and later replaced by the perforated aluminum plate
▼拱形骨架，the arch ©张佳晶
The architect hopes that the space of MOA could be as transparent as possible and tries not to divide the space with solid walls, while people are in a space, they can clearly perceive the existence of other space around them. Therefore, we can see that the metal curtain has become a space partition here, and its good weather resistance and light transmission properties are very suitable for MOA spaces. For some semi private spaces, though separated by solid walls, the architect opened several round holes in the wall with interest. Courtyard, terrace and indoor are interlinked. The result of this design is that most of the space is “four sides air leakage” after being built. This is not an ordinary practice, however the architect explains , ”if I can enjoy the building in the best time of the year, then the space is worth it, just like you have met the most beautiful person in your most beautiful years.”
▼空间不设实墙，without solid walls ©陈颢
▼空间的封闭与开敞，open and close
Although MOA has its own design philosophy, the architect still takes many technical issues seriously, such as roof drainage issue and so on. The sloping roof would bring rainwater into building surrounding and two courtyards in the North and South, and the roof material selects the stand seam corrugated polycarbonate lighting board. Compared to the material waterproof, this node waterproof method is more reliable. Every lighting board will turn up a straight edge, and then covered by a pinch seam. The pinch seam also fixed the lighting board on the roof structure. Also, some of the exterior walls are constructed with this material. The ground of MOA is made of black cement based wear-resisting floor, near some position easy to fill water, the architect also designed a tree shaped sink so that the water could be conducted to the floor drain successfully.
▼屋顶细部，roof details ©张佳晶
Also, the architects believes that all materials have their own lives, many materials which have completed their uses at one stage can still be re-utilized into another life cycle. In MOA, you’ll see courtyard walls made of different colors of old door panels, a table made of old architectural section models in cafe, a background wall decorated with socket wiring and so on. Most of the building materials used in MOA are low cost. So the architect came up with many ingenious methods, the goal of which is to make the building good-looking, easy to use, and could save money. The gate is one of the most expensive parts of the whole building, these two doors cost ten thousand RMB in total. They are made of foamed aluminum boards, an environmentally friendly recycled material. In order to fix the foam aluminum board in the angle steel door frame and hide the fixed bolt and other components, the architect thought of many ways, and finally chose the method of the use of two pieces of foam aluminum sandwich board with wood panel filling, and then fixed the wood panel to the door frame.
▼旧物利用，reuse the old materials ©张佳晶
▼泡沫铝板固定在角钢门框中，to fix the foam aluminum board in the angle steel door frame ©张佳晶
▼墙面细节，details of wall ©张佳晶
So, what is the building exactly for? There seems to be no complete answer to this question. The architect left an open proposition. MOA is divided into two floors. At the entrance there is a coffee shop, above it is the workshop, and there are two courtyards in the North and the South. Except them, the rest of the space seems to be in an “undeveloped state”. MOA has its own crystalline body, a graceful and comprehensive gesture, but the events that follow are not certain at all, let’s have a photograph exhibition, a concert, a movie premiere? Sure! Just as it was born, “This building can be whatever it wants to be.” Over the past two years, MOA has never ceased to be transformed, and it always has been waiting to be broken down and reshaped. For example, the metal curtain which separates the courtyard has been transformed into the lighting board metal frame door. The sunshine still goes through, but the space then has different expressions.
▼不停演变的空间，developing space ©张佳晶
The follow-up construction of the little dark room for meditation. Extreme bright and dark are all forms of light. MOA accepts the sun as much as possible, but the architect then built the little dark room in the west space of MOA in a playful way. This space is used to study on pinhole imaging, or for meditation. For the light, the little dark room and the outside are two very different worlds, they are mutually opposite, and in contrast with each other.
▼小黑屋，the dark room
“I have one thousand faces.” It whispers. The open proposition left by the architect will eventually unravel. What happened here would give MOA its soul. Ever since MOA was built, many non-routine events occurred here, for example, the coming-of-age ceremony of Atelier GOM, lectures about the residential architecture, movie premieres, duet guitar concert, even, the terrace space of MOA has become a Yoga space in the weekend ,and not to mention the pinhole imaging experiments and photograph exhibitions.
▼多变的空间利用形式，multi-functional spaces ©张佳晶
The design of MOA didn’t rely on any grand architectural theories, just built instinctively. This building puts itself in a very low position, and it worships the sun, the wind, and the water. It provides resting places for stray cats and dogs, and welcomes any visitors, flowers, trees, or people. Maybe, as they said, ” We come nearest to the great when we are in the most humble.” Unlike traditional architecture, MOA is always in a state of constant change and growth, challenging itself again and again, hence touching its limits with nature. And Its life, is still going on.