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Harley Davidson Biker's Centre

Part 1 Project 2003
Lui Honfay
Piotr Kaminski
National University of Singapore, Singapore
Harley Davidson Biker's Centre: Merging with the machine…

The governing concept for the design is derived from the interaction between the biker and his beloved machine. The notion of MERGE is inspired by this attachment. Architecture in this sense has to be interactive, i.e. an integration of form and function into one interactive system. The physical expression is the interaction of the two architectural elements, the roof and the wall, which creates a series of folding which in turn creates the spaces for the events to take place.

Inspired by the linear (100X50 metres) site, the approach is to subdivide the site into strips, allowing the folding concept to be manifested, at the same time emphasize on the transitory nature of the bikers. To inject excitement into the design, the strips are treated together as an undulating landscape, rather than as built-up forms to compete with the massive buildings surrounding the site.

Harley bikers are highly individual by nature, yet coherent as a whole group as part of the legend. Here, the strips are conceptualized to be individually folded, yet perform as a coherent architecture together with the rest of the strips.

Hence, the bikers interact with the landscape; the architecture fluctuates between building and landscape, blurring the boundary. The notion of merging is used throughout.

C o n t e x t
The site is situated in the automobile hub sandwiched between 2 main roads. It has the benefit of dual frontage.

Existing surrounding buildings along the roads are massive; the plot of land creates a rather abrupt break in the continuous row of buildings along the road, presenting an opportunity for individuality in the context.

There is a constant flow of pedestrian crossing between the 2 main roads. Thus the functional arrangement is such that this pedestrian flow is tapped and the public is invited to go through exhibition and accessory shop.

M a i n A p p r o a c h
Responding to the site factors/forces like setbacks, urban opportunity, fire escape, pedestrian movement, bikes’ circulation, greenery, servicing, the Harley Davidson Centre’s form and spaces morph accordingly.

At the same time the development focuses on the sectional development of the strips, while leaving the plan to be shaped by the context.

The use of the porous architectural gesture is to encourage movement across and the public is invited to go deep into the centre. Rather than providing a “window display” experience, the aim is to draw people deep into the centre and experience the culture of the Harley Davidson bike.

Lui Honfay
Piotr Kaminski

Man and His Machine
The basis for our relationship with the machine oscillates between the exquisite pleasure of empowerment and a profound loss of diversity due to the inherent homogeneity of the mechanical. Architecture has long been part of this complex relationship. Honfay Lui’s Biker Centre engages with both the pleasure of riding and the specificity of place and the individual, taking the riders through a sculpted terrain in the forms of the fragments of machines.
The broader concern of the studio has been to explore the relationship between technology and the senses, and this exploration was anchored between two iconic texts: Alberti’s intellectualisation of the mechanics of beauty (De re aedificatoria) and Francesco Colonna’s (or Poliphilo’s) search for sensuous love of architecture among fragments of delicate beauty in a dream (Hypnerotomachia Poliphili). Alberto Pérez-Gómez’s twentieth-century retelling of Poliphilo’s dream (Polyphilo, or the Dark Forest Revisited, 1992) became a helpful, although difficult, start.

Site and Context
Lui’s Biker Centre fits between two characterless car showrooms, in an area of Singapore filled with homogeneous modern constructions. The Centre offers a wide range of spaces for exchange and repair, as well as for display of the latest motorbike models. The relatively large site (100 by 50 metres) is accessed from the short ends of the rectangular area from Alexandra Road and Leng Kee Road, and this condition is used to create the linear forms which define the movements of the riding machine throughout the building. The project is conceived in “strips” of functions and paths, and they come together to form distinct areas; this seems to capture the individuality and the collective imagination of the bikers. The ramping surfaces, in various places, turns themselves into walls and roofs, much like the skins of the body and the bike. Here, the ground is reshaped by the presence of the riding machines.
The idea of fragments of machines is brought out in a series of smooth and crafted details, from the solidity of undulating landscape roofs and ramps to the lightness of bridges made of glass and metal frames. The lifting mechanism linking the internal biker’s bar to the roof terrace becomes a dramatic celebration of what can only be seen as an addictive human indulgence in the power of the machine.


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