LEYUAN LI / WOWOWBEN

STAGE CITY 1.0




Room City intends to investigate the concept of "interior urbanism" within our contemporary context. Interior and urbanism have been positioned at divergent poles of spatial practice. Acting as a mediator, architecture has been asked to respond and navigate this divide. Historically, as in the Bath of Caracalla in Rome and the old Penn Station in New York City, architecture has contributed to shaping the configuration of urban spaces, defining both its sheltered interiors and their relationship with the outer world.

Last century has witnessed the rapid construction of vast interior spaces well conditioned by revolutionary technologies. With its capacity to provide a controlled and tempered environment, the interior has become fertile ground to grow and shape the experience of the city. Driven by modern technologies, these interior spaces began to swell, expand, and interconnect, which generates a new urban model that liberates the interior from the exterior context and removes the role of architecture from the equation. Technology, with its powerful apparatus, such as air-conditioning and escalator, has superseded architecture by dissolving its boundary and collapsing its volume. In consequence, the polarities of the Interior and urbanism are brutally exacerbated. The massive proliferation of this type of interior space has advocated a formless and endless interior urbanism, which integrates shopping mall, airport, and gallery into a seamless whole. Diagnosed by Rem Koolhaas as "Junkscape", these spaces are totally subject to the laissez-faire of consumerism, creating a toxic urban environment that rejects any legible logic and framework.

                

Site, model photo


One of the most conspicuous instances is the Penn Station complex located in Manhattan where lots of large-scale interiors have emerged since the late 19th century. Built in 1910, the building was opened to the public as a major transportation hub. Designed in the Beaux-Arts style, the station was highly praised for its majestic spatial quality and its granite construction. The main waiting room, inspired by the Roman Baths of Caracalla, was the largest indoor space in New York and soon became one of the public landmarks that significantly contributes to the magnificence of the city. Nonetheless, due to the economic recession, the Penn station was decided to be demolished and replaced by an entertainment venue, Madison Square Garden in 1968. Modern architects at that time did not oppose the demolition. The train station was relocated underground and entirely submerged in an artificial subterranean interior that heavily relies on air-conditioning and artificial lighting.

The main waiting room, inspired by the Roman Baths of Caracalla, was the largest indoor space in New York and soon became one of the public landmarks that significantly contributes to the magnificence of the city. Nonetheless, due to the economic recession, the Penn station was decided to be demolished and replaced by an entertainment venue, Madison Square Garden in 1968. Modern architects at that time did not oppose the demolition. The train station was relocated underground and 



Reflecting upon the current paradigm of a vast and formless interior, the thesis contends to reintroduce architecture back to the equation and reclaims the significance of form as a framework to regulate the interior space. Architecture is important inasmuch as it acts as a mediator to restructure the relationship between interior and urbanism through its positive negotiation with form.


Exterior view, model photo

The forms of urban rooms are defined by a thick poche that functions as servant spaces. The poche is deconstructed into several layers that accommodate small meeting rooms, retail rooms, circulation spaces, and small retail spaces.

The extension is held up by a beam system on top of the building, which also hangs classical elements that serve as structural members to balance the tension in the cantilevered beam. As an integral structural system, it creates a spatial and tectonic contrast between the new part and the original building.

The axonometric view of the upper volume

The axonometric view of the lower volume  (urban rooms)



Thesis project
New York City, US, Fall 2019
Instructor: Jesus Vassallo
Individual work

STAGE CITY 2.0
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STAGE CITY 3.0
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Cargo Collective 2017 — Frogtown, Los Angeles