Natian Cup

organized by Suqian Municipal Planning Bureau, CBC(China Building Centre), Urban Environment Design (UED) Magazin

Finalist Prize

Awarded project by Grupo H

From the organizers: “The contemporary urban landscape relies largely on the creation and regeneration of public spaces, which then reflect on the beauty of cities. The identity of urban spaces is created through infrastructures, sculptures, buildings, land, vegetation and any element that is capable of representing the essence of place and culture. Pleasant and comfortable urban ecological environment and interesting urban public spaces have undoubtedly become one of the main driving forces of urban development.

First ‘Naitan’ Cup International Competition for Sustainable Design was initiated jointly by Suqian Municipal Government, Suqian Planning Bureau, and CBC (China Building Centre). Last year, several urban regeneration projects have taken place in Suqian through utilizing plantation elements from traditional Chinese culture. This year, Suqian Government intends to take the urban projects to the next level.”

competition entry - the mirror tower

Standing on a flat ground one can just see few hundred meters around, so your perception of natural surroundings is limited to what you can see in your immediate surroundings. Birds, on the other hand, have a totally different perspective on our world, as they can see it from high above. If you could have a vantage point of a bird, you could see the full complexity of the world that surrounds you, and you would for sure have a better understanding and respect for nature.

So, this proposal examines the simple question: Can we change peoples perception of the landscape by changing their point of view?

To answer that question this proposal creates a slim wooden structure – an observation tower that allows visitors to view the landscape from 35m above the ground. The tower itself is clad in mirrors to reflect the surrounding landscape and hide the structure of the tower. In that way, the architecture of the tower is decomposed and almost nonexistent. Therefore there is no tower as a landmark to look at, there is just reflection of surrounding nature. The only thing that exists is the experience of visiting the tower.
The tower, therefore, becomes just a tool that elevates the visitors in the sky and presents them with a different vantage point of nature.

Can we change peoples perception of the landscape by changing their point of view

plane of sight – our interpretation of nature and the landscape depends on our point of view. That view can be limited and our perception of the landscape is limited to what we can see.

reflection – the main attribute of the tower design is a continuous reflection of its surroundings. The tower is therefore almost invisible and doesn’t overpower the natural beauty of the landscape

views – for the visitors the tower offers unobstructed views across the landscape, therefore changing their perspective on the landscape elements

Tower’s structure is simple and functional and can be seen as just two interconnected wooden structural tubes. The inner core, formed from cross laminated timber panels holds the elevator electrical and other service lines. The outer structure, also formed from cross laminated timber panels is formed in such ways to leave voids that allow for views to open from the interior of the tower. The two structures are connected by stairs made from recycled steel. The whole tower is enclosed with mirror facade mounted on the aluminum substructure. One the points where cross laminated timber panels leave voids, a one-way mirror is used on the facade to allow for views. On the top of the tower, there is a viewing platform.

simple and functional to take advantage of the views

The interior of the tower is left simple and functional to take advantage of the views of the landscape. The walls of the structure can be used to present educational information about landscape and sustainable development. All the materials are left untreated as much as possible in order to preserve their hones natural finish.

The concept of the tower requires a simple and functional floor plan.
An inner core, made from cross-laminated wood panels, holds the elevator and service lines. The elevator has just two stops, on the ground level and beneath the observation deck. It allows for quicker access to the top of the tower and is more suitable for families and elderly.

Around the central core, steel stair structure is formed connecting the inner and outer core. The stairs make for primary vertical access to the tower and they are its main interior feature. Stairs spiral up the tower and cross what seems to be random voids in outer core that open for stunning views of the landscape. Top of the tower is an open-air deck that allows for 360 degrees views.