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Digitalized Neighbourhood

Part 1 Project 2010
Chun Wing Gregory Wong
University of Hong Kong China
Chinese culture is built upon the close interactions of people. However, in the 21st century Chinese society, the sense of neighbourhood has been diminishing due to people's desire for individuality. Lacking sense of neighbourhood is a major housing problem in China in the 21st century. Although there are common facilities in most residential high rises, people are unlikely to bond to the places where they live; hence, local cultures have become harder to be bred.

“Digitized Neighbourhood” emphasizes on that the quality of living should depend on the programs habitants share, but not how little they share. This project looks into the system of hierarchy and “division and sub-division”, so as to create spaces to increase human interactions. Following the hierarchy of the road system of the site, this housing project has been broken down into three scales; the small, medium and large.

The large scale determines the basic form. The large cubes were placed in the “most valuable spot” of the site, which were measured by the quality of view, average temperature and noise. There are sixteen large cubes large cubes, which are used as the common and circulation spaces of the architecture.

The medium scale explains how the small scaled housing units plug into the large ones. Slots for the small scaled units are located at any “free corner” in the large cubes. The distances the small units cantilever out from the centre depend on the number of households they have in that particular small unit.

There are sixteen different typologies of small scaled housing units. They all follow the ratio of (2:1 of solid : void), which is the average ratio of (living space : common space) in most residential high-rises in China. The sixteen modules serve different family sizes, from one to eight.

A parametrically perforated structural wall matrix is used to support this architecture; perforations are more concentrated at the lighter weight structure, while less are placed at the most structural supporting locations. This system could support the cantilevers without addition of external structure.

Neighbourhood is always the cornerstone of culture. It is irreplaceable.

Chun Wing Gregory Wong

This BAAS Year 3 project succeeds in formulating a comprehensive and innovative relationship of technology and materiality to architectural design, investigating concepts associated to contemporary design and production technologies. As a proposal for a brief titled Mass Customised Housing, the project challenges the perpetuation of homogenous, repetitive, reductive, and profit-driven approaches to conventional housing. Mass-production housing has always been informed by contemporary technologies and, housing has often been the trigger for innovations to existing processes of production. The central question raised by this project concerns the workflow between contemporary computational design tools, CAD-CAM fabrication and existing constructional techniques and material assemblages can produce new experimental prototypes for twenty-first century living. The customisation of these new kinds of iterative spaces will require parametric methodologies to generate singularities and multiplicities related to demographics, programme, environment, topography, movement, structure, etc.

Gregory’s work excelled in acquiring and mastering computational and physical modelling skills, knowledge of material, structural and constructional techniques, and analytical and speculative design methods. His comprehensive design proposal developed in the second semester, synthesised the application of the design methods and systems developed in the first semester, once again as a sequence of four short, intensive design projects. The final project was developed across various scales and design media, addressing a range of new architectural typologies and their proliferation into a new aggregate model of housing. On a detail scale, the differentiation of repetitive component-based spatial, structural and material systems was articulated as a model of porosity of the skin of a load bearing shear wall structure.

This project synthesises spatial, structural, material, programmatic, enclosure systems, among others, and inter-relates these systems in a coherent, comprehensive architectural proposal. Gregory’s work confronts the brief on housing through the application of contemporary technologies, aiming for new kinds of experimental prototypes for twenty-first century living.

Mr Tom R Verebes
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