Diffused Boundaries Skyscraper

By:  | April - 17 - 2015

Editor’s Choice
2015 Skyscraper Competition

Satavee Kijsanayotin, Ben Novacinski, Hannah Mayer, Haydar Baydoun, Mingxi Ye, Zhifei Chen
Thailand, United States

One’s identity within the city is determined by a relationship to public and private space. Where a person can go, what they can see, and what experiences a person has access to shapes the identity of the individual. Architectural language plays a crucial role in this identity. Diffused Boundaries aims to break down previously known thresholds in the city and affect change in the way people perceive, use, and experience space.

Hong Kong, like many metropolitan cities of the world, experiences the rapid rise in urban population in limited build-able land, creating a need for the city to grow vertically.  This method of architectural urbanization have humans pushing the boundaries of our existence into the sky. Yet the existing model for vertical existence have produced an urban landscape of tall, monotonous, and isolating structures that pushes the population to become socially disconnected.

The rigid separation of the programmatic functions between the public and private realm shapes and limits human social interaction.  As cities continue to grow skyward, leaving behind the socially and culturally rich public functions that exists at street level for the private realm higher up, the more private and isolated our lives becomes. Thus, as we look skyward, the question that Diffused Boundaries seeks to answer is not only how do we begin to blur the boundaries that create separations between public and private spaces, but also how to bring the rich civic and communal lifestyle that currently exits on the ground up into the sky.

The twenty-four-block site chosen for the project exists within the main concentration of the commercial district of Sham Shui Po.  Made of up nearly identical buildings,the shop house typology dominates. Public/Semi-public use of each building exists on street level, while the next couple floors up serves as residences.  More recently, however, towers of residential living and / or commercial use have been situated atop the shop house typology, creating an ever-distant relationship between ground and sky, public and private.  
The concept of Diffused Boundaries ,then, seek to blur this rigid division between the public and private programmatic function that exists due to the existing architectural language in all three axis of urbanization through the vertical and horizontal diffusion and dispersion gradient of form and functions.

Each building block of shop-houses are diffused vertically to redefine both its public and private space.  By opening up each floor, there create more opportunities for not only more available commercial space, but also an opportunity to extend the rich street life from the ground up into the air.  The void space that are created as a result of this strategy create allows for a mixed used circulation design that acts as both modes of navigation through the structure, but also public spaces and the lively street life style that initially inspires the project.

Vertical cores provide direct point A to point B routes and horizontal planes provide lateral circulation within a new dissolved reality. Large public spaces with storefronts allow street life and public life to merge in the sky. Vertically aligned public spaces offer more space for gathering, talking, and moving through spaces. Public and private functions exist within and without each other in a new dissolved way. This system of circulation, program separation, and public space, creates a new type of community where the experience of those passing through, working, or living within it becomes integrated. Social interaction increases as a result of dissolving the public and private. The experience of Sham Shui Po no longer exists solely in black or white, but also tones of gray.

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