Campus scape

The wild side. photo © Iwan Baan

i've long been an admirer of the work from Morphosis, even from the Rotundi days, when things were often a bit over wrought, as if trying too hard to make a statement and establish their "otherness" or bad boy (in architecture?).  But those days are long gone, and in the place of those pressed efforts is the much more disciplined, coherent, and consistent work that makes up their portfolio of the last 15 years.

Their Giant Interactive Group Corporate Headquarters project in Shanghai takes familiar Morphosis themes and uses them to interesting effect, not dissimilar to the landscape theme undertaken on a much smaller scale by Aires Mateus in their Elderly Housing project posted earlier.

Here again there is a reference to a normative condition, a courtyard house, that has been opened in such a way as to release another kind of program or being, in this case a series of physical activity / recreational spaces that act as an attempt of sorts to reclaim the body from the inward, mind state of the office wing, thereby taking on the character of a monster of the Frankenstein sort, being simultaneously natural, wild, yet hyperactively human, born as they were from the more urbane, intellectual, and recognizable office and classroom wing. 

The courtyard "house", where the offices, library, and meeting rooms are located, sits to one side of a road that pierces the complex, splitting it violently and initiating the release of this hyperactive man-child, as it spills out in forms both soft and shard toward the lake and canal beyond, while creating beautiful and unexpected openings and tears in the membrane that give views to the sky and other pieces of landscape and water, man-made and not.

Diagram showing opened courtyard house beyond and tumbling release of disturbed landscape

Entry level plan; road split, sinuous, broken, civic wing to the right

Upper level plan showing sinuous wing and disturbed spilling, not unlike Baker Hall by Aalto

 Section through the "civic"

Road split           
photo © Iwan Baan

Rupture in spilled membrane
photo © Iwan Baan

Exposed innards and soft organs of the "landscape" side.
photo © Iwan Baan

photo © Iwan Baan

Courtyard house, unwound.
photo © Iwan Baan

  One might think of the relationship between the student lounge space and dorm rooms in Aalto's Baker Hall for an apt analogy or precedent.

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