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This proposal for a Student Center, located centrally in the master plan for the new Nanjing University in Xianlin, aims to offer a singular expression of the dialogue between these two opposing paradigmatic forms of symbolic significance: a curving roof that appears to be related to the landscape of the larger campus context, and a tower which acts as a beacon and observation point.
The design exploits the techniques and economy of local construction practices as a means to develop an exceptional form. Poured-in-place concrete construction, using adjustable and recyclable form work, will give shape to a landscape-like roof that acts as a unifying “umbrella”. The roof form is derived from a series of hyperbolic paraboloids, the ruling lines of which become reinforcing beams, all based on the same cross section, and distributed at regular intervals.
Between the beams are drainage trays filled with gravel of different colors. As such, the roof creates the effect of a remarkably variable form, despite the logic of regularity that underlies its economy of means. The roof landscape surrounds the tower in such a way that it appears as if the tower is an anchored point of resistance or a buoy atop the surface of a roiling seascape.
The spiraling form of the building is extended by a stair that ascends the outside of the tower. One of two fire stairs is outside the body of the tower, thus allowing the unusually small floor plate that gives the tower its distinctive scale. The interior offers a flowing plan that accommodates a complex series of interrelated programs of student organizations and spaces for events. The auditorium is the most important space, with seating that establishes a setting conducive to a unique social experience for diverse audiences.
Location: Nanjing, China
Type: Public – Cultural
Architects: Preston Scott Cohen – www.pscohen.com
Client: Nanjing University – China
Project Schedule: Design, 2007; Construction, 2008-09
Construction Budget: RMB 3,000 / m2, (interior and landscape not included)
Project Team: Preston Scott Cohen, Inc., Cambridge, MA: Preston Scott Cohen (Design); Amit Nemlich (Project architect); Annie Barrett, David Saladik, Adam Modesitt (Project assistants); Institute of Architectural Design and Planning, Nanjing (Chinese architect of record)
Photography: Iwan Baan