Beijing, China

This design intervention approaches the existing Cable 8 Complex through both urban and architectural modalities.

Urban Design Strategy:
1. Urban Apparatus: Currently, the Cable 8 Building Complex is isolated from other surrounding urban areas by an extreme difference in scale and urban pace. The monumental nature of Beijing’s infrastructure creates a coarse-grained urban fabric that has lost its human scale and created problematic wind tunnel. In Beijing’s CBD, densely built with high-rises, air movement is drastically accelerated. Especially, in wintertime, the high winds have made it difficult for pedestrians to navigate. The design proposes a series of urban apparati that operate as both wind shields and solar energy collectors lined with photo-voltaic fabric. They are intended to mediate the monumental extremes of Beijing’s urban infrastructure by providing a gentler, less hostile urban space more suitable to human habitation. These series of apparati will also alleviate the drastic shift in speed of urban traffic by making possible a network of bike paths and pedestrian walkways.

2. Networks of bike and pedestrian paths: The Cable 8 Building Complex is presently well used and occupied by the art and media industry. However, because of the extreme scale shift with high wind conditions, the Cable 8 Building Complex is perceived as an isolated urban pocket disconnected from the rest of Beijing’s CBD.Networks of bike and pedestrian paths are programmatically laid out and organically woven into the existing urban fabric at a human scale. Organized by the logic of the existing urban programs, these paths serve to reconnect the Cable 8 Building Complex with its surroundings, specifically interweaving it into the fabric of Beijing’s Art and Design District.

Architectural Design Strategy:
Three major design interventions are introduced:

1. The Interlacing of Wind and Solar Surfaces:
Built of bamboo, these interwoven fields act as a substructure for wind and solar device. In the winter, white translucent PVC-coated polyester, hung over the structure, performs as solar reflectors, providing bounced light toward the north-facing building facades, which are normally in complete shade. Meanwhile its translucency causes the north face of the white fabric surface to appear to glow, providing diffused ambient light. Such effects would be appropriate for activities where indirect light is much desired (such as offices with computer workspaces, galleries with works that need to be protected from direct UV rays). This solar reflector also provides radiant heat for the interior during the winter months.

In the summer, as temperatures begin to rise, loosely woven rattan mats replace translucent PVC-coated polyester acting as a wind break and shading device, like a typical brise-soleil, for the southern-facing facades. The less reflective rattan will still provide ambient light into the northern facades but to a lesser degree to prevent dramatic temperature rises. In addition to its architectural function, the bamboo structure acts within the urban infrastructure to delineate traffic flow into and out of the Cable 8 Complex, making visible the link between Beijing’s CBD and its surrounding neighborhood.

2. The Interlacing of Public Program Spaces and the Cable 8 Building Complex:
Literally, these pocketed program spaces, distributed throughout the existing complex, provide transparency and porosity to preexisting opaque and dark spaces. They also offer opportunities for both visual and physical interconnections within the existing complex and the city beyond. These distributed programs include retail, food service, health and exercise areas, and gallery and exhibition spaces.

3. The Interlacing of the Cable 8 Building Complex and Beijing’s Urban Fabric:
At present, according to Beijing’s development trajectory, the Cable 8 Building Complex will become the center of its future Art and Cultural District. Hence, we identify three accentuated moments of transition between the existing Cable 8 Building Complex and Beijing’s urban fabric:

> Pinwheel Space: The northeast corner of the complex acts as both threshold and pinwheel space, where movement corridors from all directions coalesce. Established as a primary link for its close proximity to the main public infrastructure and major metro transfer stations, this pinwheel space mediates the downtown, the Art and Design Campus of Tsinghua University and a network of important art galleries such as the Wall Art Museum, Times Art, and Today’s Art Museum.

> Media/Performance Space: The eastern end is designed for media and performance space where Web/software businesses presently reside. This space will be used for music events such as concerts and record releases.

> Theater/Runway/Gallery space: The western end of the complex, bounded by a vestigial open space, is presently occupied by movie and fashion businesses, an exhibition space, and a cultural center and art bar. We propose that the bamboo structure be extended into the west courtyard to create a canopy for fashion show runways, theater, and other exhibition events. We also propose a more transformable space under this new canopy to be used for movie premieres, awards ceremonies, annual film festivals, fashion week, etc.

Design Team:
Raveevarn Choksombatchai, Qingyue Li, Sarah Witkin, Norbert Wong