Digital Beijing
The rapid development of the digital age has greatly impacted our society, our life and the urban realm. If the industrial revolution resulted in modernism, contemporary architecture needs to explore what will form out of the current revolution of information. Beijing’s government has promised the world that the 2008 Olympics will present the highest technological content of any in history. The building will be located on the northern end of the cities central axis, neighboring the core of the Olympics Center, Herzog & de Meuron’s National Stadium and PTW’s National Swimming Center. During the Games, it will serve as the primary data control center. Following the Olympics, the building will transform into a virtual museum and an exhibition center for manufacturers of digital products. Digital Beijing accepts this transformation with a capacity for constant renovation, sprinting along side the pace of our time. Conceptually, Digital Beijing was developed through reconsideration and reflection on the role of Chinese architecture in the modern information era. Digital Beijing helps to develop a new aesthetic, an architectural language that is thoroughly contemporary, but retains a Chinese texture and sensibility. Reflecting on Chinese philosophy and vernacular architecture, it becomes a project that grows organically from its historic and physical contexts. Resembling that ubiquitous symbol, the bar code, the building emerges from a serene water surface. The facade itself continues this aesthetic, detailed to resemble an integrated circuit board. The abstracted mass of the building, reflecting the simple repetition of 0 and 1 in its alternation between void and solid, recreates on a monumental scale the microscopic underpinnings of life in the digital age to form a potent symbol of the Digital Olympics and the Digital Era. Solid and void become a construct to define the relationship between the exterior and interior as well. A solid wall a stone with small moments of articulated glass windows comprise the western facade. The three bars that reflect the solid typology are physical manifestations of information technology. Inside are all of the computers and machines that make up the mainframe. In contrast the eastern side is the location for the public exhibition hall and a few floors of open office space. Aesthetically a inverted image of the western facade, the eastern facade lets light into the project while reflecting the surroundings of the Olympic Campus. This inverted aesthetic seen on the east and west facade relates directly to the typical Chinese hutong. On the exterior transparency is very rare, where internally the true interaction between nature, open space and building is most evident. Materiality relates to the massing, developing simple and clean detailing with a focus on innovation. But, viscerally a building for a digital command center would look to use the highest technology in regards to materials and construction. Again using influence from the simple repetitious nature of technology, the construction focused on a low-tech approach to provide a high-tech solution. Through the perspective of Chinese philosophy, everything including the advancement of technology has an intimate connection with the natural realm. Aesthetically this perspective continues a dialogue between the past and the future. Digital Beijing is a manifestation of both program and its contemporary context. Using an interlaced logic, the project looks at the future while continuing to reflect on its past. The revolution of information technology has changed the way people interact with their surrounding on a global scale.

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