Donnerstag, 2. September 2010

Urban Toulou

Traditional Toulou

A tulou is a communal building integrating living, storage, shopping, spiritual, and public entertainment into one single building.

Traditional units in a tulou are evenly laid out along its perimeter. Although this type is very much suitable for low-income housing, simply copying the form and style of the tulou would not be a good solution for the design of low-income housing. However, by learning from the tulou, one can help preserve community spirit among low-income families.

By introducing a “new tulou” to modern cities and by careful experimentation of form and economy, one can transcend conventional urban design. Our experiments explored ways to stitch the tulou within the existing urban fabric of the city – green areas, overpasses, expressways, and residual land left over by urbanization. The cost of residual sites is quite low due to incentives by the government, and this is an important factor in developing low-income housing. The close proximity of each tulou building helps insulate the users from the chaos and noise of the outside environment inside.Integrating the living culture of traditional Hakka tulou buildings with low-income housing is not only an academic issue – there is an important social issue too. The living condition of the poor is now gaining more public attention.How can one effectively adapt the tulou into the modern city? Research was characterized by comprehensive analyses and continuity from the theoretical to the practical. The study has examined size, space patterns, and functions of tulou buildings. We also tried to inject new urban elements with the traditonal style, and balance the tension between these two paradigms, In the end, we not only realized the feasibility and usefulness of the tulou, but we also gained experience and a deep understanding of a veritable urban form.

Donnerstag, 29. April 2010

Hagia Sophia and Domed Architecture

Hagia Sophia

The name Hagia Sophia comes from the Greek Ἁγία Σοφία and means Holy Wisdom. The emperor Justinian gave two scientists - Isidorus and Anthemius - the task of designing Hagia Sophia (AD 532 - 537), which was to be the new cathedral of Constantinople.

The two scientists started their design by dividing the square-shaped church into three rectangles:

In the middle of the church, they built stone piers - which were set out in the form of a square. These piers were to support a brick dome. The dome measured 31 metres in diameter. Four huge arches were built from the tops of the piers and in the spaces between the corners of the arches and the dome, pendentives* were extended. This meant that the dome had a circular base.

Small arched windows were cut into the base of the dome and the dome was reinforced with ribs and buttresses.

For support, smaller half domes were placed against the arches.

The dome was covered in mosaics and seemed to float - the piers could not be seen.

Hagia Sophia took five years to complete, but the speed at which it was built may have rendered it unstable. In the sixth century an earthquake caused the dome to be destroyed. The dome was replaced only to have partially collapsed a few centuries later.

When the Turks invaded Constantinople in 1453, Hagia Sophia was turned into a mosque with four minarets.

* A pendentive (as shown in green) enables the construction of a circular dome over a square room or an elliptical dome over a rectangular room.