Other Histories: Chicago Architecture Biennale 2017
To make new history, we need to look at other histories.
If the primary source of derivation for modern architecture is classicism, what would an architecture that is derived from a non-western historical tradition be? This proposal for the new Chicago Tribune Far East Asian Headquarters explores a possible answer. Its design is grounded in principals of ancient Chinese architecture in the aim of locating a contemporary architectural vocabulary in an eastern formal and philosophical basis.
The source of a Chinese architectural language can be found in the architecture of all its imperial cities,where the irreducible part is the pavilion. When stacked vertically, pavilions form a pagoda, a structure without the hierarchal and tri-partite relationships of western classicism, that instead embody more pliable organizational possibilities.
The building is a tower of pavilions, an accumulation of parts, each subtly differentiated. It is a vertical city where meaning is embodied in the relation between elements. Within the conventional logic of high-rise it rejects the extruded floor plate to create a tower of volumes, each with its own autonomy and status in the vertical axis. Pavilions spill over from one to the other, the table tops defining spatial limits but not limits of influence.
The spaces of this new vertical city are attuned to the nature of the knowledge economy and the contemporary media environment where performance dominates, flexibility sets value and well being is the ultimate cause. Pavilions frame theatres, meeting zones, restful landscapes and hedonistic gardens, the true productive spaces for today’s media workers.
This is an architecture with a language not rooted in western thought and with a history outside of the narratives of modernism. It is a tower for a media with global reach and capital based off-shore. It makes new histories for a polyglot and multi-centred architectural culture.
- Location:Chicago, USA
- Design Team:Chris Lee, Martin Jameson, Bolam Lee, Simon Whittle, Julia Cabanas, Kevin Fu, Jerome Ng