CUHK Faculty


New Architecture Faculty of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, 2008
Invited international competition, with agps.architecture

The new building for architectural education at the CUHK, a building that is flexible in its potential spatial and programmatic utilisation, has been envisioned primarily as a space marked with strong and recognisable public references, and conceptualised as a gathering space for the exchange of ideas, knowledge, and to encourage human interaction. This reflects directly on the two main features that this project wishes to underscore: the spacious open foyer embedded within the smooth topography of the site, and the large study hall on the upper level, which occupies the maximum perimeter of the site. A powerful architectural structure supports and embraces these elements. The particular formulation of the building structure and the strong horizontality emphasises the 'gate-position' of the building with simple means of architecture without spectacular gestures.
The inner organisation of the foyer takes the existing topographic condition - from steep slopes to smooth inclines and planes – and transforms it into an 'interiorised landscape'. A series of differentiated accesses -such as the main entrance, a small bridge, a set of stairs and the parking entrance- connect the foyer with the different levels adjacent to the surrounding area of the plot. The space for library and resource centre form a suspended mezzanine that 'floats' above the open foyer, a small auditorium blends into the existing slopes of the terrain, thus becoming part of the interior landscape. These two main functions, the foyer and the library are spatially defined and connected through a series of circulation-objects, or elements, occupying the 'open landscape' of the foyer and providing access to the upper level: a long gentle ramp -or architectural promenade-, a core with elevator and staircase as connector and a spiral stair as shortcut.
The required parking places are partly organised within the terrain and partly along the perimeter of the site.
While the foyer thrusts social interaction and exchange by its characteristic openness and porosity, the educational program is contained in one single architectural element that reflects more than a formal 'gesture'. It constitutes the possibility of a large, continuous hall lingering above the foyer, which as such, provides flexibility in terms of programmatic and spatial organisation. Furthermore, it attempts to achieve a sort of contemplative relationship between the users and the natural elements of the landscape, by establishing affective and aesthetic relationships between the architectural spaces and the canopies of the surrounding vegetation.
The gallery, which can alternatively function as closed-off, compartmentalised spaces, is organised along the central axis of the hall, allowing retreat from the activities and business of the large open space beneath.
A continuous waffle slab spans the whole width of the hall, functioning simultaneously as a skylight, and lends this space a characteristic spatial trait.

Ulaga Partner Bauingenieure, Basel