▼视频，video © 琢磨琢磨科技（北京）有限公司
Beijing Huiwen Middle School is a prestigious school in Beijing with a history of nearly 150 years; it was founded by an American Christian church. Seeds of revolution were planted in the school after being managed by Chinese leaders. Over its long history, there produced more than 30 academicians of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and more than 20 patriotic revolutionary heroes. In 2018, ZOMOZOMO was commissioned by the school to design and construct two major campus installation art pieces when the new main academic building was about to be completed. Overcoming many difficulties, both were accomplished in the autumn of 2020 after careful safety demonstrations and technical tests. Unlike traditional design firms, ZOMOZOMO is an enterprise solution company that works from creation to achievement in the fields of brands, products, spaces, and events. Our team members come from multidisciplinary backgrounds—primarily design and engineering. We are never limited to fancy design drawings. We believe successful brands should be delivered to and engage with their audiences across every channel.
▼前⼴场装置“⼭海”，“Shanhai” in the Front Square © 周涵滔
The two installations are located on the central axis defined by the main school gate, front square, and main academic building, which students must pass to enter and leave the school. Essentially, the two installations are designed for the experience of teachers, students, and visitors when entering the school. The design originated from the question of how to make first-time visitors experience the sense of ritual brought by the school culture and how to give the students who step into the school every day the experience of different aspects of the installations under various lights and shadows during the four seasons. “To integrate the cultural essence from all over the world” is the origin of the name of Huiwen in Chinese. The installation pieces creatively and artistically show the diversity and inclusiveness of the school culture. The traditional design method that integrates ancient and modern, Eastern and Western is often a simple eclectic approach that combines different styles and techniques. However, what ZOMOZOMO tried to explore in this project was the flexible use of contemporary techniques and design methods to express Chinese features throughout history, in order to reflect the spirit of merging Chinese and Western, ancient and modern in Huiwen’s culture, meanwhile forming a harmonious conversation with the main neoclassical-style teaching building.
山海 | Shanhai
▼（左）“⼭海”雕塑的形式和材料的⼩尺度打样测试，（右）Op-Art Silkscreen by Victor Vasarely, 1967 © 琢磨琢磨科技（北京）有限公司
(left) Small-scale Prototype of Form and Material of “Shanhai” Sculpture, (right) Op-Art Silkscreen by Victor Vasarely, 1967
In the conceptual thinking stage, mountains, sea, universe, sky, Chinese characters, history, and other grand indications constituted a fantasy scene in the mind of principal designer Wang Simin. The sculpture in the school’s front square is called “Shanhai.” Framed by the school gate, it both echoes and conflicts with the facade. Mountains meander upward in a natural cadence, and their reflection casts on the mathematically rhythmed black “sea” along with the sky. Behind the sculpture, the columned facade of the academic building stands neatly as a grid, interacting with the mountains. The form of the mountains in the Shanhai installation comes from three peaks with extraordinary significance in Chinese culture: Mount Qomolangma, symbolizing the absolute peak; Mount Tai, symbolizing history and heritage; and the Jinggang Mountains, symbolizing the Red Revolution. The peaks also indicate the spirit of Huiwen students and teachers pursuing excellence, inheriting culture, and carrying on the traditional red culture. On the “sea” made of mirrored stone, we can see the reflection of mountains and buildings. The free sea is inspired by a graphic op-art silkscreen. The installation, which is composed of mountains and sea, embodies the mindset and spirit of Huiwen.
▼“山海”鸟瞰，aerial view of “Shanhai” © 周涵滔
We creatively adopted various materials and crafts in this work to increase the sensitivity of environmental feedback and provide students with new experiences every day. For the “Shanhai” installation, we used mirrored stainless steel and multilayer wire drawing technology. Along with welding, we applied manual wire drawing using wires of different fineness along the mountains, which not only ensures the reflective sensitivity of this work, but also forms the complexity and fineness of the mountains. Because there is a concert hall under the front square, the sculpture needed to be lightweight to maintain the safety and stability of the structure. Meanwhile, we held many discussions around different modeling techniques and regarding materials and forms on a smaller scale. We tested the sculptural form by resin 3D printing, and then we made a proof through reverse molding and handmade cold work to test the different texture of different materials.
▼近景，镜面不锈钢材质形成倒影，closer view, mirror stainless steel material forming reflection © 周涵滔
星汇 | Xinghui
When entering the academic building, you can see the “Xinghui” installation, which consists of three groups of 81 strokes, a total of 243 strokes, hanging above the central nave. Each stroke is taken from the important calligraphy of great Chinese men with lofty ideals throughout history, such as “The Red Cliff Ode” by Su Shi and “A Single Spark Can Start a Prairie Fire” by Chairman Mao.
▼从室外望向中厅，view from exterior to central nave © 周涵滔
These strokes hang in the air, reflecting and changing colors. The reflector on the ceiling reflects the color of the strokes, extending the height of the installation. Walking to the school badge and looking back, we used the principle of perspective illusion at the only observation point where these strokes spatially form the Huiwen school motto, “Wisdom, Humanity, and Courage,” inscribed by Cai Yuanpei. This sequence was designed to provide visitors with a ritual experience of Huiwen culture from far to near, and dark to light.
▼汇文校训“智仁勇”，”Wisdom, Humanity, and Courage” © 周涵滔
For the “Xinghui” installation, the position accuracy of each steel wire was required to be at the millimeter level to achieve the perfect effect of perspective illusion. Based on the programming simulation, we accurately located the plane position and hanging length of each stroke, and we numbered each stroke to accomplish the desired effect completely and precisely during installation. Each stroke was fixed by two hanging points, which is highly demanding technically; the points are not only durable and safe, but as invisible and simple as they can be. Because each of the 243 strokes is unique, the difficulty of locating the hanging points was in how to balance each of them. After a mass of testing, we found the best algorithm for the hanging location and angle of each point. The algorithm was applied to each stroke through computer programming, and then each stroke was carefully constructed to achieve the current effect.
▼钢丝悬挂243个笔画，243 strokes suspended on steel wire © 周涵滔
Safety is always the first consideration for installations in schools, especially, in this case, for the “Xinghui” installation. Mounted on the ceiling of the crowded academic building hall, any safety failure could lead to a disaster. During the prototyping process, we performed cautious calculations and simulations of weight distribution and wind resistance. The outcome of such rigorous processes proved that the installation is safe and flexible enough to sense the change of airflow and light in a five-year lifecycle under extreme wind pressure.
The installation is able to change color constantly because of the use of special membrane materials. Wang Simin, the principal designer of this installation, participated in the research and development of a new membrane material when he was a graduate student at Cornell University. The membrane material eSkin was developed, which could reveal different visual properties under different lighting conditions by virtue of the complex microstructure. Dichroic film by 3M has been widely used in various commercial projects in China since last year.
▼细部，颜色不断变化，details, colors are changing © 周涵滔
Every day, the sun rises and sets, and direct and scattered light streams into the hall through the French windows of the academic building facade. The change of light intensity and angle, the swing of the strokes caused by wind, and the different observation angles make each stroke show a different color and transparency. The reflection of light on the white wall will moves in rhythm with the strokes. This fall, Huiwen Middle School will celebrate its 150th anniversary. We hope the epidemic will be over by then, and the two installations can welcome alumni, teachers, and students from home and abroad, bringing their best wishes and kindness together.
▼夜景，night view © 周涵滔
▼平面图，plan © 琢磨琢磨科技（北京）有限公司
▼剖面图，section © 琢磨琢磨科技（北京）有限公司
▼山海立面，elevation of Shanhai © 琢磨琢磨科技（北京）有限公司
▼星汇立面，elevation of Xinghui © 琢磨琢磨科技（北京）有限公司