MAD Architects has just released its design for the Wormhole Library, a curved structure that serves as a multi-functional building, allowing visitors to read, enjoy the sea views and attend open-air performances. Located on the coast in Haikou, Hainan Province in China, the “wormhole” pavilion is now under construction and is expected to be completed in 2021.
Led by Ma Yansong, MAD Architects has designed a dreamscape by the South China Sea. Transcending time and space, the multi-functional building takes on a “wormhole” shape and is cast in white concrete, using both a CNC and 3D printed model and ensuring accuracy and seamlessness. In fact, the curved concrete structural walls connect the ceiling, the ground, and the walls together. Holes of varying sizes allow the architecture to breathe and meanwhile let natural light flood the interior. The grey spaces of the exterior corridors provide shady spots for passers-by to stop and rest.
Composed of two parts, the 690-square-meter interior reading space can store approximately 10,000 books, a café, and a terrace; and the 300-square-meter public rest area is equipped with a bicycle parking system, public bathrooms, and shower areas.
Located in a key area of the Hainan free-trade island initiative, the project is part of a governmental-launched initiative to rejuvenate the Haikou Bay. Enhancing the usage of public space along the coastline, the Wormhole Library will be the first completed pavilion from the master plan.
MEP systems were designed “to be hidden within the concrete cavity to minimize its appearance and create visual consistency”, while the roof, on the sunny side, is cantilevered to achieve comfortable temperatures, realizing a sustainable and energy-saving building responding to the local weather. Finally, “curved sliding doors and retractable glass curtain walls not only provide views of the sea but also enhance overall airflow and ventilation”.
Haikou, Hainan Province, China
Site Area: 4,397 sqm
Building Area: 1,380 sqm
Principle Partners in Charge: Ma Yansong, Dang Qun, Yosuke Hayano
Associate in Charge: Fu Changrui
Design Team: Qiang Siyang, Sun Feifei, Dayie Wu, Shang Li, Alan Rodríguez Carrillo, Xie Qilin
Client: Haikou Tourism & Culture Investment Holding Group
Executive Architect: East China Architecture Design and Research Institute
If we define deconstructivism, it literally translates to the breaking down, or demolishing of a constructed structure, whether it being for structural reasons or just an act of rebellion. It is perhaps for this reason that many misunderstand the Deconstructivist movement.
Deconstructivism is, in fact, not a new architecture style, nor is it an avant-garde movement against architecture or society. It does not follow “rules” or acquire specific aesthetics, nor is it a rebellion against a social dilemma. It is the unleashing of infinite possibilities of playing around with forms and volumes.
During the First World War, Russian avant-gardists, known as Russian Constructivists, broke the rules of classical architecture and composition and presented a series of drawings that defied the “geometric norms” at the time. Their critical point of view and experimentation with forms disturbed the traditional perception of architecture and opened people’s eyes to the endless possibilities of breaking architecture rules.
Post war, Russia was undergoing radical changes and revolutions, and the impact of these revolutions on architecture was inevitable. Architecture was seen as a high form of art, influencing and being influenced by society, and so, social revolution = architecture revolution. Geometry, whether in art or architecture, became irregular. Vladimir Tatlin designed a bent monument trapped inside a twisted frame for the Third International in 1919. Aleksandr Rodchenko presented an experimental design for a radio station that portrayed all sorts of geometric experimentation and irregularity. However, these radical structures, as well as hundreds of others, never saw the light of day, and were left as sketches with an intriguing conceptual approach that was yet to be explored.
In parallel to the Russian Constructivist movement, the Modern Movement was paving its way. Perhaps it was the timing of both movements that forced people to blindly choose Modernism. The World War has just ended and people were desperate for the stability and refinement they so missed; Russian Constructivism didn’t stand a chance. Ornamentation was stripped off, only to leave people with clean-cut, elegant yet naked functionality.
Misconceptions surrounding deconstructivism may be the result of the terminology itself. The word translates to the act of demolishing or tearing apart an existing structure, implying an act of rebellion. Deconstructivism was not really an impactful architecture movement or an artistic style that took the world by storm and altered architecture as we know it. It was a mélange of Russian Constructivism and Modernism, with a little bit of influence from Post-modernism, expressionism, and Cubism.
The term first appeared in the 1980s, as an idea developed by French philosopher Jacques Derrida. Derrida, a friend of Peter Eisenman, developed the idea of fragmenting a building and exploring the asymmetry of geometry (inspired by Russian Constructivism), while maintaining the core functionality of the space (inspired by Modernism). The public first noticed the deconstructivist movement in the 1980s during the Parc de la Villette competition, thanks to the winning entry by Bernard Tschumi, as well as Derrida’s and Eisenman’s design entry.
The projects in this exhibition mark a different sensibility, one in which the dream of pure form has been disturbed. It is the ability to disturb our thinking about form that makes these projects deconstructive.The show examines an episode, a point of intersection between several architects where each constructs an unsettling building by exploiting the hidden potential of modernism.
Following Derrida’s theories and the “avant-gardist” approach of Russian Constructivism, architects began exploring spaces and volumes. The style was characterized by a loss of symmetry or continuity. It was architecture on steroids. Design rules were broken and “form follows function” was neglected, but somehow, the refinement and elegance of modernism remained. The structure’s skin was manipulated and altered into unpredictable geometric forms, but the building’s function was preserved. Basically, architects began having fun, and instead of asking themselves whether the design was practical or not, the main question was: Why not?
However, most architects have rejected the label of being “Deconstructivists”, distancing themselves from any sort of movement. Bernard Tschumibelieved that “calling the work of these architects a ‘movement’ or a new ‘style’ was out of context and showed a lack of understanding to their ideas”, claiming that the style was merely a move against postmodernism. Unfortunately for them, the term resonated with the public, and their works have been referred to as “deconstructivist” ever since. In fact, their Deconstructivist approach to the design created some of the world’s most iconic and award-winningstructures to date, influencing hundreds of up-and-coming architects.
Note: This article was originally published on August 12, 2018, and updated on August 11, 2020.