The design of this temporary installation reinterprets the traditional Chinese garden to activate the roof terrace of the MoCA Shanghai as an undulating and responsive multi-layered landscape. The upper (canopy) layer simultaneously produces gradient spatial conditions and framed viewing portals which curate views of the surrounding hi-rise towers, while the lower (landscape) layer articulates a series of back-lit sculptural ground forms which subdivide the terrace and provide atmospheric effect through responsive color-changing LED lighting affects. Inspired by the work of Frei Otto, the entire project extends his body of design research into physical and digital form-finding processes for minimal surface structures through dynamic mesh relaxation techniques.
The canopy examines the potential of gravity forces and internal tensions to derive geometry by relaxing a tensioned net, in which every web member reveals its load path to express its funicular form in multiple dimensions. It is further articulated by a series of carefully calibrated apertures, each oriented to frame a specific view out of the roof terrace to frame a selected tower in the surrounding skyline. Each aperture responds to a corresponding landscape feature which swells out of the ground plane of the roof terrace. The landscape explores the minimization of surface curvature between edge conditions by shrink-wrapping CNC milled profile structures.
The combination of the spatial acrobatics of the canopy in confluence with the emergent landscape swelling out of the ground plane creates a series of gradient spatial conditions which articulates the continuous roof terrace space into series of relaxation zones, each focused on curated spectacular views. The final installation was realized through a series of tensioned net structures to articulate an undulating roof canopy and a series of shrink-wrapped plastic skins which articulate a generative landscape. The undulating landscape is embedded with color-changing LEDs connected to motion sensors, with color changing responses to express intensities of occupation. The highly successful installation activated the previously under-utlized roof terrace into a popular summer evening destination, while also serving as highly visible civic landmark viewable from surrounding highrise towers.
The temporary installation is a commissioned work for the exhibition “MoCA Mockups: The Architecture of Spatial Art”. The entire project was designed, fabricated, and installed by a team of graduate and undergraduate students from the University of Southern California’s American Academy of China summer studio.
Project: Minimal Relaxation Program: Temporary Canopy and Landscape Installation Client: MoCA Shanghai Location: Rooftop Terrace @ MoCA Shanghai, Shanghai, China
CREDITS: Designed, fabricated and installed by the USC AAC Summer Studio 2012 Faculty – Neil Leach (USC/AAC Program Director), Wendy W Fok (Univ. of Houston/atelier//studio WF), Alvin Huang (USC/Synthesis Design + Architecture) Students – Ethan Barley, Chi Bhatia, Gabby Gertel, Ty Harrison, Luya He, Justin Kang, Michelle Kraintz, Arjun Mahesh, Nicole Stizel, Yimeng Wang, Sahar Youdai, Chaoxun Zhang, Xiaoyun Li, Xiaojin Mi, Xinyue (Amber) Ma