Golden Moon (Public Event Space) by Laboratory for Explorative Architecture & Design Ltd. (LEAD)
2012 - 2013, Platinum A' Architecture, Building and Urban Design Award Winner
Inspiration
The Golden Moon revisits the concept of a Chinese lantern and makes a direct link to the legend of Chang’e, the Moon Goddess of Immortality – two elements strongly associated with the Mid-Autumn Festival. According to the romantic story Chang’e lives on the moon, away from her husband Houyi who lives on earth. The couple can only meet on the night of the Mid-Autumn Festival when the moon is at its fullest and most beautiful. To symbolise the passionate love burning between the reunited couple that day, the 6-storey-high, spherical moon lantern is clad with abstracted flames, colours and patterns. The lantern is placed in a reflection pool and is made big enough for people to walk inside and be fully immersed in the sound and light experience.
Creativity
The Golden Moon is a temporary architectural structure that explores how Hong Kong’s unique building traditions and craftsmanship can be combined with contemporary design techniques in the creation of a highly expressive and captivating public event space. It is the 2012 Gold Award winning entry for the Lantern Wonderland design competition and was in display for 6 days in Hong Kong’s Victoria Park.
Design Challenges
To bring the project to a successful end within the limited time available, a very close conversation with the craftsmen was required from the beginning. Preconceptions of building methods and familiar construction techniques had to be abandoned by all parties as both the digital and the material world demanded a new design and building set-up to be devised. This project shows an alternative way for digital design to be materialised into a more humane environment with real-world conditions like limited time frames, low budgets, minimal precision but human flexibility, creativity and ad-hoc inventiveness.
Production Technology
Traditional materials for making lanterns, such as translucent fabric and bamboo, have been applied on a large scale. A light-weight steel geodesic dome forms the pavilion’s primary structure and is the basis for a computer-generated grid wrapped around it. This grid is materialised through a secondary structure from bamboo. For this, Hong Kong’s traditional bamboo scaffolding techniques were used – a high-speed, intuitive way of building scaffoldings even for skyscrapers. This highly intuitive and imprecise craft was merged with exact digital design technology to accurately install and bend the bamboo sticks. This grid was then clad with stretch fabric flames, all lit up by animated LED lights. The pattern the bamboo and flames follow is based on an algorithm for sphere panellisation that produces purity and repetition around the equator and imperfection and approximation at the poles. The gradual change, combined with the swooping and energetic curves that define the geometry, creates a very dynamic space that draws views up towards the tip. By putting the axis of this cladding grid not vertical but under an angle, the dome gets an asymmetric directionality. This motion is reinforced by the entrance which is placed along this tilted axis and hints people to move into the sphere and be swept away along the grid’s tangents and vectors. The colouration of the pavilion amplifies this effect that aims to submergence visitors in a light wonderland. On top of the black painted steel structure, which forms a neutral base, eight different saturated colours of stretch fabric are used for the flames. The colours gradually range from ivory and yellow to intense orange, red and deep bordeaux. The brightest colours are used at the tilted base whereas the darkest colours are used at the pole where they, together with the more scrambled geometry, make the pattern disintegrate into the black night sky. The Golden Moon was built in only 11 days and shows how, through a combination of state-of-the-art digital design technology with traditional manual craftsmanship, complex geometry can be built at high speed and low cost with the simplest of means. It rethinks the premise of digital design by anchoring the paradigm in a strong materiality. Expected to be visited by 500,000 people, the pavilion uses its dynamic space, structure, colour, texture and light to trigger a sensuous response from visitors of 2012’s Mid-Autumn Festival.
       
     
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