Floating Islands of Sky – The pontoon bridge is partially invisible between water and sky with a supply of practicability and fun. Walking on the clouds reflected in water, visitors will develop a sense of freedom of floating and an inside surging strength. We expect that these artificial floating islands can merge into the sky and lake in a new form, creating effect of a cluster of folded islands, accompanied by Rainbow Hut, and dwelling in LUXELAKES.
Architizer chatted with ZHANG Hetian, Principal at unarchitecte to learn more about the project.
Architizer: Please summarize the project brief and creative vision behind your project.
Zhang Hetian: It is a linked archipelago cost-efficient system. Seven artificial islands are laid out to face true north. An integral rhythmical distribution enhances the stability of islands in undulating water. Meanwhile, islands’ platforms have been aligned to the same level, and the wavy form of natural islands are resembled above. The islands are connected by bridges which can be controlled to rise or lower. Plus a tiny movable island, three means of access are established: above-water path, water treading and waterway. Furthermore, the pontoon is designed with the availability of future splicing renovation, it will be evolved after a period.
What inspired the initial concept for your design?
In our work, we consider inspiration to be actually fermentation. Although it is our first time to design a pontoon bridge or actually any bridge, and we studied some relevant cases, but we still hope to do something different, even if it is just a little bit different. Our initial idea was that the whole pontoon bridge could be hidden and dissolved in between the water and the sky by reflecting the sky, and at the same time it could be very close to the water or just in the water. Then we could feel the freedom of being suspended above the clouds, and a kind of inside surging strength. The final pontoon was determined by many factors, although we only partially realized the original idea, but the idea was carried through as the soul in the whole design.
What do you believe is the most unique or ‘standout’ component of the project?
If there is one thing that is most unusual, we think it is that the pontoon is in some sense “alive”. In other words, it can change. We can control the elevation of the bridge through airbags, so that the connecting bridges can sometimes sink underwater or flush with the islands’ platforms; A small movable island is powered by a pair of manual propellers which is restrained by an under-water steel cable, that provides a little adventure-like way for access; In addition, we also studied the availability of splicing renovation, which makes it possible to change the layout of the whole pontoon bridge in the future. Currently one branch has been taken down for the 2.0 version experiment.
What was the greatest design challenge you faced during the project, and how did you navigate it?
One of the greatest challenges here was how to deal with the stability in response to various dynamic moves in condition of low budget. The pontoon bridge is in the rippling water, and the connecting bridges are designed to be able to move up and down, so if we use the installation such as track or gear to be the connection between the islands and the bridges, it is easy to get stuck or even damaged. Therefore, we finally designed a series of very simple limit details through a lot of research, so as to obtain a fault tolerant connection, which realized the integral rigidity of the pontoon bridge and made the construction easier. The pursuit of stability is also reflected in the layout. The footpaths, parallel to the edge of hexagonal islands, further strengthen the overall connectivity and molecular-like spatial structure.
Credits / Information
Architects: unarchitecte Website: www.unarchitecte.cn Email: email@example.com Address: Luxelakes Water City, Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China
Architect in Charge: Zhang Hetian; Design Team: Zhang Hetian, Fan Yonggang, Zhang Jinxian, XuXuan, Liu Qi, Liu Jing; Photographer: He Yao, ZHANG Hetian; Clients: Wide Horizon Group, A8 Design Center; Construction Company: unarchitecte, Superstructure Collaborators: Superstructure
For more information on The Floating Islands of Sky, please visit the in-depth project page on Architizer.