USC Asia Architecture & Urbanism Study Abroad Program

Evolving Space

Architecture is a discipline which has the ability to generate activity in any given space.  Whether that space is a bridge, a building, an alleyway,  or a patch of grass, is not always the issue.  Any number of activities can occur in a space, regardless of what use the space was intended for.  For example, while in Hong Kong we visited the Hong Kong Shanghai Bank.  On any given weekday, the bank fulfills its purpose as a fully functioning bank; however, Sundays call for a different purpose at the bank in the free-flowing open space on the ground level.  The activities that ensue at the bank on Sundays are not the typical characteristics of a bank.  The Hong Kong Shanghai Bank transforms from a commercial and purposeful place to a place of leisure, conversation, and relaxation.  In fact, this characteristic of the bank is stronger than the day-to-day purpose and activity that a bank generally provides.

While visiting and art community in Shanghai, M50, I came across a gallery containing all different expressions of art by one artist.  This included close-up photographs of smiling faces, a crumpled up red star in a corner, painted physical landscape, and a film.  After walking through the main portion of the exhibition, I made my way into the film gallery, where “The Fifth Night” by Yang Fudong was being screened.  Seven screens, seven cameras, just one scene.  The idea behind this film exhibition was to demonstrate the ways in which one scene can be perceived.

I find this exhibition to relate to the notion of various activities occurring in one undefined outdoor place.  As the film clip takes place on an ominous evening on a city side street, the viewer can begin to see the different activities taking place, all within the larger picture of a single activity.  All of the characters being shown are part of the same scene, all involved in the same action.  One character relates to another character, which relates to another, which relates to the next and so-on.  However, once these different camera angles and points of view come into play, the exhibition can easily seem to be portraying the act of seven different activities in seven different places.  What the viewer could perceive as differences, are actually simultaneous instances tied together into one scene.  Just as many activities can transpire in one place, so can the perception of these activities.

Architecture cannot cater to activity without accepting the fact that activities can change over time.  What is now an art gallery may one day morph into a restaurant.  What is now a museum could very well be transformed into a daycare facility.  How do we then base a design based on the strictly the possibility of an activity?  Maybe we don’t.  Instead, we can provide the opportunity for different activities to arise, and other activities to fade off into the past.  Without the opportunity, there is no possibility and it is up to us as architects to design always considering the prospects of the activity, keeping in mind that specific activity is not always stagnant.


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AAU FALL 2013:

University of Southern California
School of Architecture
Asia Architecture and Urbanism
Study Abroad Program

Andrew Liang
Bu Bing
Steven Chen
Yo-Ichiro Hakomori
Andrew Liang
Yuyang Liu
Neville Mars
Academic Contributors:
Thomas Chow, SURV
Bert de Muynck, Movingcities.org
Manying Hu, SZGDADRI, ITDP, Guangzhou
Clare Jacobson, Design Writer, Editor, Curator
Laurence Liauw, SPADA, Hong Kong
Mary Ann O'Donnell, Shenzhen Noted, Fat Bird, Shenzhen
Paul Tang, Verse, Shanghai
Li Xiangning, Tongji University, Shanghai
Daniel Aguilar
Hong Au
Michael den Hartog
Caroline Duncan
Nefer Fernandez
Christian Gomez
Isabelle Hong
Jin Hong Kim
Ashley Louie
Javier Meier
Paula Narvaez
Ashlyn Okimoto
Tamar Partamian
Samuel Rampy
Luis Villanueva
Krista Won
Tiffany Wu

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