Tea House, J-office by Archi-Union Architects

a new experience to an ordinary functional space

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Appreciation towards Archi-Union Architects for providing the following description:

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The Tea House, located in the backyard of Archi-Union’s J-office, is constructed from the salvaged parts of the original warehouse’s collapsed roof. The site was extremely constricted with walls on three sides, and with only one side facing towards an open space that contains a pool. The space was further restricted by a mature tree. The design tries to embody harmony by integrating enclosure and openness, delightful space and logical construction and other complicated relations. This building reacts to the site’s environment; the plan layout is a logically obscure quadrilateral, thus maximizing the amount of space. It is divided into three parts. A covered public area is formed towards the open space with the pool, with an enclosed tea house at ground level and library on the first floor where a small triangular balcony extends around the existing tree. Other more private spaces exist such as a lounge, reading room and service room which are arranged towards the rear of the building; a delightful transitional space was created to connect the public space and the private spaces.

The transitional space was designed around a twisted nonlinear hexahedron staircase, which connects the functional spaces. The stair resolves the vertical transportation issue from the tea house and the library and provides an inner courtyard near the reading room for viewing the existing tree. The space was designed to bring a new experience to an ordinary functional space. Linear space suddenly changes into an expressive form, surging from the tea house then transforming into a tranquil space for the library on the floor above, making the reading room a special place to sit.

The volume is a three-dimensional irregular shape which is impossible to be understood through plans. The twisting shape was designed by scripting in Grasshopper an algorithmic plug-in for Rhino. However such a shape is difficult to translate into quantifiable information for guiding construction. The constraints of manual construction obliged us to invent solutions at the time of construction to realize the advanced digital design with local low-tech construction techniques. Firstly we abstracted the structural skeleton which was subsequently scanned with digital software. This curved shape was then recalculated through interlacing straight lines; these lines were then formed into ruled surfaces filling the void. The spacing was set to the dimension of timber, thus the digital ‘setting out’ could be easily translated into a manually constructible shape. A 1:1 timber framework was produced by following the same logic as the digital model; a subdivided timber shuttering covered this framework to create a curved formwork. The formwork was built through a series of upper and lower layers according to the construction sequence. The casting was almost the same as ordinary concrete casting, reinforced with re-bars following the straight lines of the ruled surface. Concrete casting after the reinforced bar was completed by manual labor and the final physical effect was achieved. The traces of the timber formwork remained imprinted on the poured concrete after construction, with quality defects such as bubbles, adhesive failures and re-bar exposure present due to the manual construction – defects, however, that are obscured by the unique curved shape. Although there are errors of in the formwork, planning and manual casting the combination of digital design and low-tech manual construction provided a great opportunity to study the possibilities of digital architecture.

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Archi-Union Architects

Founded in 2003, Archi-Union Architects is a shanghai-based architectural design firm, led by Prof. Philip F. Yuan, who pays great attention on the combination of academic research and physical practice. 

Started from our practice in China, we built our own philosophy with the help of Parametric Design. The concept of low-tech digital fabrication is the combination of digital technology and craftsmanship. This is our approach towards architecture. 

Philip F. Yuan

Dr Philip F. Yuan is Associate Professor at the Architecture and Planning Institute of Tongji University, Shanghai, Director of Archi-Union Architects, and a member of the Shanghai Urban & Planning Consultant Community. He has won the following important domestic and international design awards: 2nd prize for Excellent Education Architecture by Ministry of Education, China, and 3rd prize for Excellent Exploration Design by Ministry of Construction, China for his Students Apartments of Tsinghua University. His project ‘Linear House’ won 1st prize in the Shanghai International Youth Architects’ Works Exhibition, and was selected for the ‘40 under 40 Exhibition of China’ and the 2007 Shenzhen Biennale; ‘Can Cube’ and ‘Inverted Himalayas’ were selected for ‘Update China’ (2010); his project ‘Linpan Urban Infrastructure’ was selected for the Chengdu Biennale (2011); he was also co-organizer of the DigitalFUTURE conference and cocurator of the DigitalFUTURE exhibition at Tongji University (with Neil Leach, 2011). In March, 2012, he was invited to give a speech about ‘Low-tech Digital Fabrication’ on ACSA 100th Annual Meeting (host by MIT, Boston). 

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位于创盟国际J-office办公区后院的茶室是对基地上原有的一栋屋顶已经塌掉的仓库房的再建。基地本身极为局促,三向面墙,只有一个方向朝向一个有水池的后院,同时整个建筑对空间的索取也因为现有的一颗大树而受到很大限制,而设计的结果也表现为一种综合了封闭与开敞、占有与妥协、趣味空间与逻辑建造等多种复杂关系之后的一种和谐。整个建筑贴合基地空间,平面布局呈现为一个逻辑关系模糊的四边形,却也因此获得了对空间的最大索取。整个建筑在布局上分为三部分,朝向后院一侧布置相对公共性的开敞空间,一层茶室,二层图书室,同时在二层图书室伸出一个三角型的小平台将现存树木加以包裹,使得树木和建筑本身融为一体。而背向后院一侧布置休息室,书房以及辅助服务空间等相对私密的空间;公共空间与私密空间之间通过一个趣味性的连接空间得以串连。

连接空间是一个通过扭转放样得到的非线性六面体,将前后两侧的四边形平面去掉后,连接空间将两侧属性不同的功能空间加以融合,楼梯空间的置入同时解决了茶室的竖向交通问题,并为二层书房贡献了一个可以看到现存树木的内向小庭院。而连接空间也为本来平淡的基本功能空间创造了新的空间感受,一层茶室空间出现了从平直空间向竖向空间的突变;而二层图书室的空间也因为趣味空间的存在而获得了独有的场所感。

连接空间是一个无法通过平面图纸表述的三维异形体,我们在Rhino中完成的对形体的基本推敲以及空间的把握,但这样的数字模型很难直接转化为可以指导工人进行施工的讯息。同时工人手工施工的现有限制条件迫使设计师在提交施工方案时必须同时给出决措施以实现前沿数字化设计与中国本土低技施工现实的结合。我们首先在数字软件中将曲面扫掠过的多根结构骨架线进行提取,使得曲面形式通过相互交错的直线进行概括,再将直线进行等分以实现直线间的曲面拟合,等分的距离控制在木模板可拟合的尺寸之内,这样数字化的放样就转化为手工可控制的形态。再根据这样的直线拟合关系制作一比一的木骨架模具,在这一骨架基础上蒙上细分后的木模板,由此形成一个完整的空间曲面模板构架。模板构架根据施工工序切分为上下两次搭造。楼板的浇筑基本和普通的混凝土相一致,唯一就是钢筋的铺设也与模板的直线取向相一致。铺设钢筋后混凝土的浇筑也通过手工来完成,并最终形成了现有的实体效果。模板的痕迹在施工后完全保留,全手工的施工模式使得混凝土的表面出现了很多类似起泡、模板脱胶,钢丝外露等很多质量缺憾,但曲面的独特形式却使得这些得以弱化。虽然无论是模板布置还是手工浇筑都具有一定的造型误差,但这一数字化设计与低技手工施工相结合的方式对建造数字化建筑的探讨也具有了特别的意义。

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Location: No. 1436 Jungong Road, Yangpu District, Shanghai
Area: approx 300 sqm
Design: March, 2010 – August, 2010
Construction: August, 2010 – May, 2011
Architect: Archi-Union Architects
Chief Designer: Philip F. Yuan
Design Team: Alex Han, Fuzi He
Photography: Zhonghai Shen

Products used in this project
1. Baxter – Sofa
2. Fink – Candlestick
3. Minotti – Armchair
4. MisuraEmme – Dinning Chair
5. Magis – Striped Poltroncina Armchair Blue (in the balcony)
6. Moooi – Random Light LED Medium
7. FontanaArte – Spiral Tribe Suspension Lamp

项目地点:上海市杨浦区军工路五维创意产业园区内
建筑面积:约300平方米
设计时间: 2010年3月-2010年8月
建造时间: 2010年8月-2011年5月
建筑师:创盟国际
主创设计师:袁烽
设计团队:韩力、何福孜
摄影:沈忠海

 

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