Chinese practice LIN Architecture has inserted a sinuous 42 sqm bamboo pavilion in a grassy rural plot of Chongming – an island getaway just about an hour drive from Shanghai, China, frequented by tourists from closer cities on weekends. Designed to activate the bucolic setting comprising vast farmlands and water features into a pocket of public space, the project led by designer Lifeng LIN is an experimental initiative involving designers and students. As per LIN Architecture, the Bamboo Pavilion is a study in joint participation, ecological construction, sustainable operation, and teaching within research.
Adding to people’s existing engagement with the context, the project is built on the notion of 'how a space can activate behaviours and become a good social generator'. LIN Architecture found two key triggers of Chongming’s landscape to outline the basic geometry of the pavilion: the extensibility of the horizontal plane defined by vast stretching fields, and the absence of enclosed spaces. “This design makes a breakthrough among the two points,” shares the studio, adding that “the program is no longer horizontally but vertically organised and the spatial enclosure is highlighted.”
Furthermore, LIN Architecture sought key parameters of the design in field theory by examining patterns of interaction between people and the landscape. Explaining the intent and how the installation’s form responds to the people’s behaviour, the studio explains, “Interactions in between family members or strangers are realised by the space attracting people to break the boundaries. People spend their time resting, talking and transiting around this installation. They finally build up a sense of intimacy and connection by traveling from one field to another.”
Against the seemingly jarring openness of the landscape, the installation acts in different ways. Sometimes it becomes a refreshing pit stop for people transitioning between fields, or other times, it’s a world of its own beckoning a moment of solace within its folds. If it isn’t any of this, it simply sits there as a background for people’s activities on the farm. Children fondly trace their steps, walking up and down its friendly undulations or chase one another through curving paths enclosing its folds; people often dropping by for picnics within the area find it an interesting attraction to pull over. During evenings, the installation is illuminated where its softly glowing edges reveal a defining image of the overall form, while enticing people to explore it.
Erected by designers and students on site, the structure of the pavilion combined a weaving skeleton that held the form together and weaving strips that gave it a detailed aesthetic. While the former involved connecting, bearing and forming bamboos holding the vertical assembly, the latter utilised closely connected bamboo strips to form the outer skin. The process began with positioning of the pavilion on site, followed by the processes of sub structuring, form finding, and weaving. The on ground structural assembly of the Bamboo Pavilion added with the design research took over two weeks. In a simple architectural gesture, the designers met their aim of realising a people’s place within the obtrusive vastness of the countryside setting.