Tag Archives: state change

Visual Clues – Cullets and Quarry

visual clues cropped

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Presentation text


Built and the Unbuilt. Two opposing realities leave a big question mark on what happens in the third space – the space of transition. Or rather why do the two realities end up being so oppositional? There is no better project that attempts answering this question than a competition – a project that is pushing the boundaries of the Unbuilt with the promise to be built.

1983 was the year of the Hong Kong Peak competition attracting 1700 participants including Zaha Hadid’s winning entry. Tucked away on the mountain slope, the Peak leisure club acts as a threshold between the visionary and the real. Shattered, extruded, compressed and inclined – this was Zaha’s Hong Kong drawn through the lens of her project. By breaking away from the shackles of reality, she abstracts the city, transforming its state in order to situate her building. The conceptual and physical malleability empowers the architect and her architecture to return to the animalistic instincts of the lion and the chameleon, forcing her seamless vision of the city upon the viewer.

We flip the coin to see what happens on the other side. By materialising the project in its real form, the portal connecting the visionary and the real is broken. The peak goes back to its real physicality – a part of the mountainous rock formation no longer exuding the power of manipulating the world around it. In its journey from idea to form it has lost its connection to the context of the city, changing its state to become a rock.



The project interrogates the constructed reality of the space of transition through the scales of the mountain, the glass factory and the molecule. It embraces the split personality of the Unbuilt by stating that nothing can be described in one term. Malleability, transformation and state change, therefore become the key attributes for the conceptual and material ground of my project.

We start with a blank slate. Through a series of rotational iterations going from a point to line, to plane, to cube we finally arrive at the site – a mountainous landform – the result of the first sequence of state change from abstract to real. It is a familiar situation where we as architects go through a series of means of representation, moulding our ideas and translating them into form, going from lineform to landform to builtform.

Traditionally architectural profession has been dealing with the extensive properties of matter and space; properties that you can measure and subdivide, such as length, area and volume. The fluctuating nature of the project calls for a shift from extensive to intensive properties, describing speed, temperature and density among others. The landform is never fully built. It is in constant process of transformation by the external forces. “To study its form is to study change.”

This is, however, no ordinary landform. As we embark on our journey to its Peak, we encounter visual clues to its hybrid nature of acting as both the site and the building material. Carved into the rocky grounds of the mountain sits the glass factory, the ultimate laboratory of state change, a space where raw ingredients get mixed, moulded and transformed to become their translucent alter egos. The factory does not simply occupy a given site. Instead it constructs the site itself, by constantly carving and depositing raw materials around it.

We now enter the factory, a space of critical threshold where Built and the Unbuilt coexist. It is the space where ideas are translated to form and where coarse qualities of the rock are gradually replaced with the refractive qualities of glass. The factory becomes the living organism, the homage to the cycle of architectural transformation

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Blurring the thresholds of State Change

Layering and blurring the thresholds


While doing some research for TS, I realised I missed what I believe is an important aspect when talking about state change. That is the notion of threshold. For instance, water starts turning into ice when reaching the critical threshold of 0° C. Critical threshold allows for the state of water to change from liquid to solid, hence the unexpected absurd moment that I was missing in the animations.

This threshold, however is not an instant shift from one state to another; it is a space where both realities can exist. With this collage I attempted at drawing this condition of the city and landform occupying the same space at the same time. Like in Gerhard Richter’s paintings (which i went to see in Tate modern on the weekend) the different layers of paint occupy the same space of the canvas, revealed and hidden at the same time, blurring them into a singular space.

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What Kind of State Change am I Addressing?

In attempt to gather my thoughts after the Holiday, I have gone through the tutorial notes, blog notes and notes from the books I have referenced. The outcome is a bullet point format of how do I define state change in my project.

– Substances can be described through physical properties of being extensive (e.g. mass, volume) and intensive (e.g. temperature, density). Material state change happens when intensive qualities reach a critical threshold, resulting in an unexpected outcome (i.e. sand/stone -> glass/concrete)

– While state change can take form of a sequence, this sequence can be reversible and can encounter moments of absurdity and surprise.

– My project addresses the question of the relation of architecture to the site. In Zaha’s case, she needed to facilitate the context to situate the building. I propose that, rather than cutting away from the site, architecture needs to emerge from the site. Buildings should no longer occupy a giver site but instead construct the site itself.

– State change is reflected in the role of the architect as both chameleon and lion in the way landform (site) and architecture (object) come together into one. “Hybrids are often the most robust sorts of creatures” Sarah Whiting

– Perhaps the unexpected moment of absurdity is the interplay of the artificial and the natural, the landform and the architecture, positive and negative space (i.e. bringing landscape into the building, quarry and artificial mountain)

– State change in the methods of representation and the role of line and texture. “Texture is the level on which abstract information and tangible sensation meet today. Computer images are based on textures, but texture is also a fundamental feature of materials… In the field of digital architecture, the importance given to texture, to the play between grain and light, goes hand in hand with the desire to reconcile the immaterial and material, the conceptual and tangible” Antoine Picon

– “The rock’s way of staying in the game is different from the way of living things. The rock, we may say resists change; It stays put, unchanging. The living thing escapes change either by correcting change or changing itself to meet change or by incorporating change into its own being” Gregory Bateson


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Thinking Outside the Box and Plane

I have decided to do a quick exercise on the topic of Ha ha’s and Fez game, where the state change happens when changing the view and shifting from 2d to 3d.


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State Change


State Change experiments with geometry, landscape and city


State change of water



State change of Park de la Villette

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