The House of Crafts project aims to transform an unoccupied area in Shanghai Power Station of Art into a multifunctional space for exhibitions and workshops as well as a library and a shop. The exhibits need to be replaced regularly.
For Atelier A, this is a very special work. For since the initial design stage, we plan to take it as an art experiment which subverts the conventional concept of a complete project when it is finished. Instead, the whole work encompasses the process from studying sketches to construction, and is open for changes to come.
Usually, a project is considered complete as soon as it is delivered. The ensuing changes only damage the original design. However, in practice, the user more or less makes changes to the finished project our of all kinds of needs. And these needs can also change over times. Therefore, we try to provide a changeable space from the beginning of our design, which remains ‘incomplete’ even upon its delivery, so that the user can modify it as they want. In some sense, the project is always in a dynamic status.
We have applied this principle of ‘incomplete project’ to our design for the House of Crafts, which will include these three phases:
1. We aim to provide a flexible space upon delivery of the project;
2. After delivery, we will cooperate with artists to redecorate the floor, walls, layout, etc. or add new materials;
3. We will renovate decorations for new exhibitions according to the characteristics of the artworks.
The other design philosophy for this project is to tone down architectural features and replace them with artistic elements. Power Station of Art itself is a highly stylised architecture, with huge exhibition space on multiple floors. The visitor is likely both physically and aesthetically exhausted when they get to the House of Crafts on the third floor. Thus, we aim to design a relaxing and comfortable environment with less architectural stimulus.
The space is divided into various functional areas in different geometric shapes, laid out according to the visitor flow and graphic effect. From above, this space resembles a Kandinsky’s painting. Spatially, planes are elaborately intersected with three-dimensional shapes, as a homage to cubism.
The House of Crafts is an interesting experiment for Atelier A. We will continue to explore the principle of ‘incomplete project’ in our future works.