David Hu Architect in collaboration with Architects H2N

Overview

David Hu Architect was established in 1996. A New York based atelier, DHA has been providing distinguished design services for select clients in the US and Asia, including Japan, Taiwan, China, Thailand and Malaysia, for the past 17 years.

DHA’s repertoire encompasses one-of-a-kind designs from planning and development of large acreages, architecture and interior projects to unique furniture. This presentation also showcases a wide spectrum of projects demonstrating our creative design processes that transcend the limitations of typologies or cultural/geographic demarcations.

At the juncture of unprecedented technological advancements, DHA aspires to address the urgency of individual sense of being in space. Our design processes are honed to reinvestigate the cultures and principles of built environments, the tectonics of architecture. The work displayed here chronicles the conception and evolution of progressive ideas and, most importantly, their actualization. These efforts demonstrate a commitment in realizing unconventional visions that answer to current existential issues regarding the sensual versus virtual properties of space and boundaries, as well as the emotional dimension of tectonic elements that conjures the individual sense of place.

In 2008, David Hu formed “New York New Vision Design Consulting Inc.” with the renowned artist Quan-Wu Li to focus on architectural ventures in China. Presently, Mr. Hu and Mr. Li are overseeing the design and implementation of a 400-acre art complex in Wuhan, China, anchored by a privately owned 100,000 square-foot modern art museum and a boutique hotel scheduled to open in 2014.

Preface

There is an intrinsic aspect of architecture that transcends boundaries of style, time, or cultural identity; that provokes emotional resonance and stimulates our psyche; that explores the dimensions of our senses of sound, air, flavor, texture, as well as the movements of our bodies and minds; and that formulates our deepest connection to space. It is such an aspect of architecture that inspires our work
Interior/furnishing: MOSS
David Hu Architect in collaboration with Artctangent Architecture + Design
David Hu Architect in collaboration with Artctangent Architecture + Design
David Hu Architect in collaboration with Artctangent Architecture + Design
David Hu Architect in collaboration with Artctangent Architecture + Design
David Hu Architect in collaboration with Artctangent Architecture + Design
David Hu Architect in collaboration with Artctangent Architecture + Design
David Hu Architect in collaboration with Artctangent Architecture + Design
David Hu Architect in collaboration with Artctangent Architecture + Design
David Hu Architect in collaboration with Artctangent Architecture + Design
David Hu Architect in collaboration with Artctangent Architecture + Design
David Hu Architect in collaboration with Artctangent Architecture + Design
David Hu Architect in collaboration with Artctangent Architecture + Design
David Hu Architect in collaboration with Artctangent Architecture + Design
David Hu Architect in collaboration with Artctangent Architecture + Design
David Hu Architect in collaboration with Artctangent Architecture + Design
David Hu Architect in collaboration with Artctangent Architecture + Design

208 West 96th Street Condominium NYC

208 West 96th Street is a ten-story, high-end condominium building with nine floor-through residential units from the 2nd through 9th floors, and a ground floor commercial unit.

Designed for a standard New York City mid-block lot, the zoning and building codes largely determined the building's volume and shape. However, each site always possesses its unique potential that, if properly exploited, will offer the building its own aesthetic and identity.

The uniqueness of this site is that it faces a wide street that provides excellent visual vantages, and a narrow adjacent vacant lot to the west suggests a potential river view. There is also an opportunity to utilize a 22" zone in front of the building volume for terraces that is allowed by the building code. The strategy is to develop the front of the building into a three-dimensional façade, a transition zone between the public and the private domain, which also serves as an extension of the building volume for the residences to reach out. Curved Juliet balconies of varying shapes are introduced to each floor.
The front curtain wall panels, arranged differently among the floors as well, form a vertically curving pattern. The northwest corners of all the floors are cut back, again with different angles, to enhance the transition zone and create an affinity towards the Hudson River.

To culminate, a multi-curved transparent veil, made of white powder-coated steel panels with laser cut perforations of varying densities, covers the entire front of the building that appropriates a soft and distinct image for the project. The gradated patterns created by these perforations create interactive layers of light and space that engage both its residents and passersby. The most open part of the perforated veil points to the northwest highlighting dramatic views of the Hudson River and the surrounding city. The building perceptually changes dramatically from day to night.

The entrance lobby, an extension of the transition zone, ushers in the architectural language of transparent layering with more sensitive details, colors and textures for those visiting or returning home.
David Hu Architect in collaboration with Artctangent Architecture + Design
Photographer: © James Wilkins
David Hu Architect in collaboration with Artctangent Architecture + Design
Photographer: © James Wilkins
David Hu Architect in collaboration with Artctangent Architecture + Design
Photographer: © James Wilkins
David Hu Architect in collaboration with Artctangent Architecture + Design
Photographer: © James Wilkins
David Hu Architect in collaboration with Artctangent Architecture + Design
Photographer: © James Wilkins
David Hu Architect in collaboration with Artctangent Architecture + Design
Photographer: © James Wilkins
David Hu Architect in collaboration with Artctangent Architecture + Design
Photographer: © James Wilkins
David Hu Architect in collaboration with Artctangent Architecture + Design
Photographer: © James Wilkins
David Hu Architect in collaboration with Artctangent Architecture + Design
Photographer: © Javier Oddo
Photographer: © Javier Oddo
Photographer: © Javier Oddo
Photographer: © Javier Oddo
Photographer: © Javier Oddo
Photographer: © Javier Oddo
Photographer: © Javier Oddo
Photographer: © Javier Oddo
Photographer: © Javier Oddo
Photographer: © Javier Oddo
Photographer: © Javier Oddo
Photographer: © Javier Oddo
Photographer: © James Wilkins
Photographer: © James Wilkins
Photographer: © James Wilkins
Photographer: © James Wilkins
Photographer: © James Wilkins
Photographer: © James Wilkins
Photographer: © James Wilkins
Photographer: © James Wilkins
Photographer: © James Wilkins
Photographer: © James Wilkins
Photographer: © James Wilkins
Photographer: © James Wilkins

Marin Loft NYC

A movable screen with double patterns and colored panels that change with the play of light throughout the day.

The loft space was divided into 4 relatively equal sections both in shape and size. These sections line up north-southwardly so as to share the northern, only exposure. The east and west sections are the private quarters and the two middle sections combine to create the open, dynamic living-dining-study quarters. The east section forms the master suite. The west section constitutes the baby’s/nanny’s room, the kitchen and the second bathroom. Architectural elements, such as the glass transom and sliding door, are arranged to allow natural light to reach deep into these sectors.

A serpentine feature meanders through the middle sections diagonally and merges with the two side quarters. Composed of media cabinets, sliding panels, display cabinet, foyer screen, closet and lighting fixtures, this undulating element physically “moves” to separate, connect, redefine and enhance the dynamism of the space. The acrylic inserts in the 5 sliding panels capture the natural and artificial lights and emanate ever-changing glows and colors. These acrylic inserts are full height “edge-glow ” panels of 6 various colors. They display an exceptional range of colors under different lighting conditions yet become completely clear and transparent when viewed straight on against the daylight.

The dramatic lighting effect is further enhanced by the consortium of transparent, translucent and reflective materials that contrast with elements of bright colors and various tones of white backgrounds. Half-transparent glass defines the quarters at the main window wall. Translucent glass is used for the transom and sliding bathroom door. A 9-foot high blue glass serves as a sliding shower door. Low iron glass was selected for the display cabinet doors. Purple opaque glass adorns the master vanity backsplash.

The two side quarters are further connected with the middle living space by two semi-transparent glass panels that separate the room walls from the full-glassed north face. The full 40-foot-plus expanse of the window can be perceptually enjoyed in its entirety in every quarter.

The white sheetrock wall is made into a pristine backdrop when juxtaposed with high finished white lacquer cabinet door panels, bookshelf and sliding panels. In the kitchen the white lacquered cabinet is juxtaposed with a white Corrian backsplash and bright red quartz counter top.

The colored acrylic panels viewed through the random cutouts are in concert with the owners’ colorful collection of acrylic objects. The finely treated white environment accentuates the sophisticated sense of color displayed in the owners’ furniture and household items, and can be exemplified by their care to color powder coat all the handles against the white lacquer doors. In the master bathroom white quartz and white “Riverstone” provide finely textured surroundings to interplay with colored glasses and glass tiles. In the second bath it is white epoxy floor that synchronizes with the white quartz counter.
Photographer: © James Wilkins
Photographer: © James Wilkins
Photo from The New York Times Magazine by Francois Dischinge
Photographer: © James Wilkins
Photographer: © James Wilkins
Photographer: © James Wilkins
Photographer: © James Wilkins
Photographer: © James Wilkins
Photographer: © James Wilkins
Photographer: © James Wilkins
Photographer: © James Wilkins
Photographer: © James Wilkins
Photographer: © James Wilkins
David Hu Architect in collaboration with Architects H2N
David Hu Architect in collaboration with Architects H2N
David Hu Architect in collaboration with Architects H2N
David Hu Architect in collaboration with Architects H2N
David Hu Architect in collaboration with Architects H2N
David Hu Architect in collaboration with Architects H2N
David Hu Architect in collaboration with Architects H2N
David Hu Architect in collaboration with Architects H2N
David Hu Architect in collaboration with Architects H2N
David Hu Architect in collaboration with Architects H2N
David Hu Architect in collaboration with Architects H2N
David Hu Architect in collaboration with Architects H2N
David Hu Architect in collaboration with Architects H2N
David Hu Architect in collaboration with Architects H2N
David Hu Architect in collaboration with Architects H2N

8 Catherine Street NYC

The minimalist design with layers of subtle rhythmic elements creates a serene, light and fluid architecture. This is achieved with its advance curtain wall design: with gradated spacing of the structural mullions synchronized by gradated frit patterns on the glass inlays, the simple volume of the glass appears weightless, and pulsates quietly.

8 Catherine Street is a 7-story office building located on one of the most prominent and visible sites in Chinatown, a quadrilateral lot with full exposure on three sides at the nexus of Chatham Square and the Bowery.

Understanding the importance of the location, the Client committed to create a distinctive building that symbolizes transformation and a forward vision for its community.

The building volume plainly conforms to the property line while the architectonics of the curtain wall create intricate fluidity and rhythm on a site that’s enveloped by open space and movement. The simple geometry and composition poise elegance in this traditionally harried and chaotic context.

The building is conceived to embody the modernity of our time: transparent, light, and a tectonic clarity with sophisticated rhythms. The tectonic clarity and lightness are achieved by the application of floor-to-floor glass with thin structural mullions. The introduction of these perimeter structure members enables the main structural columns to be recessed far from the glass line that perceptually lightens the entire building.

The sophisticated rhythm of the tectonic elements is the synthesis of the structure system and the glass system. Within the two layers of the glass curtain wall, white ceramic frits create a screen for the inside face of the outer glass. At 3/16" diameter these white dots are applied at varied percentages for each panel and create a gradation that alternates at every floor. The mullions echo the gradations of the glass by increasing and decreasing the spacing on each façade. Additional acid etching privacy treatment within 30" above the floor adds a faint rhythm to the vertical order and extra depth to the glass.
David Hu with Guan Hu Lintott
David Hu with Guan Hu Lintott
David Hu with Guan Hu Lintott
David Hu with Guan Hu Lintott
David Hu with Guan Hu Lintott
David Hu with Guan Hu Lintott
David Hu with Guan Hu Lintott
David Hu with Guan Hu Lintott
David Hu with Guan Hu Lintott
David Hu with Guan Hu Lintott
David Hu with Guan Hu Lintott
Photographer: © Paul Warchol
Photographer: © Paul Warchol
Photographer: © Paul Warchol
Photographer: © Paul Warchol
Photographer: © Paul Warchol
Photographer: © Paul Warchol
Photographer: © Paul Warchol
Photographer: © Paul Warchol
Photographer: © Paul Warchol
Photographer: © Javier Oddo
Photographer: © Javier Oddo
Photographer: © Javier Oddo
Photographer: © Javier Oddo
Photographer: © Javier Oddo
Photographer: © Javier Oddo

Dr. Lai Dental Clinic NYC

With orchestrated colors and patterns to create a spatial symphony, the design brings to a clinical setting a sensuality beyond spa-like hospitality.

Amidst the trend of incorporating hospitality sensibilities and providing more attentive and personal services integral to the medical industry, new designs to adopt spa and boutique hotel aesthetics have transformed the experience of health care facilities. For the design of Dr. Lai's clinic, we explored further the realm where the ineffability of architecture and space inspires beyond sensual elements. As a result, the experience became lyrically dimensional and, ultimately, contemplative.

The 3,300 sq. ft. premises were conceived to be one fluid space with carefully articulated definitions and boundaries. These boundaries demarcate as well as connect the spaces. The hung perforated ceiling consists of 85 custom-patterned CNC and white powder coated steel panels. It defines and extends the spatial verticality especially when the up-light system above the panels renders the ceiling beyond with a purple hue. A white translucent Corrian panel wall forms a transitional light space inside the existing windows. Embroidered with a CNC embossed pattern that reflects the theme of the ceiling, the view-framing rectangular openings are softened by the constant shifting of light and shadow on the luminescent pattern throughout the day. The entire floor is finished with white-resin/white-glass terrazzo and floating elliptical divisions. These boundaries compose an expansive, continuous white space that sets the stage for the dynamic juxtaposition of elements within.

On the stage, a unique sensuality is conjured by the rhythmic layering of customized, mostly white Corrian and lacquered furniture/partitions and transparent spatial elements, punctuated by splashes of brilliant colors of 5 red rose fabric-inlayed glass panels and multi-colored dental chairs. All the freestanding fabric-inlayed glass partitions are supported by 3/4" solid stainless steel forest-like posts anchored to the floor to suggest weightlessness and movement. The posts, polished on the edges and satin finished on the faces, are also laser cut with patterns that echo the ceiling and the wall.

All principal materials in the composition - glass, Corrian, glass/resin terrazzo, stainless steel - were considered for their hygienic properties. The challenge of the design was to explore the poetic attributes of these materials and transform their sterile characteristics.
Photographer: © Michael O'Callahan
Photographer: © Michael O'Callahan
Photographer: © Michael O'Callahan
Photographer: © Michael O'Callahan
Photographer: © Michael O'Callahan
Photographer: © Michael O'Callahan
Photographer: © Michael O'Callahan
Photographer: © Michael O'Callahan
Photographer: © Michael O'Callahan
Photographer: © James Wilkins
Photographer: © James Wilkins
Photographer: © James Wilkins
Photographer: © James Wilkins
Photographer: © James Wilkins
Photographer: © James Wilkins
Photographer: © James Wilkins
Photographer: © James Wilkins
Photographer: © James Wilkins
Photographer: © Javier Oddo
Photographer: © Javier Oddo
Photographer: © Javier Oddo
Photographer: © Javier Oddo
Photographer: © Javier Oddo
Photographer: © Javier Oddo
Photographer: © Javier Oddo
Photographer: © Javier Oddo
Photographer: © Javier Oddo
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
Photographer: © Javier Oddo
Photographer: © Javier Oddo
Photographer: © Javier Oddo
Photographer: © Javier Oddo
Photographer: © Javier Oddo
Photographer: © Javier Oddo
Photographer: © Javier Oddo
Photographer: © Javier Oddo
Photographer: © Javier Oddo
Photographer: © Javier Oddo
Photographer: © Javier Oddo

Flora Tribeca NYC

The space sways and flows like a breathing forest with an ever-changing floral drama.

To begin this project we contemplated the spatial nature of floral art. No doubt that floral arrangement is a multi-dimensional art form to be appreciated like sculpture. But the essential ephemerality and fragility of this art form contrast with the desire for permanence fof conventional sculptures. So in the process of daily renewal of materials and seasonal transitions of psyche, the creative operations here solicit such cyclical, rejuvenating fluidity from the spatial context.

The unique aspect of the existing 750 SF space is its clean and simple proportion with a ceiling that exceeds 14-feet in height. So the principal spatial element, a curving spine, was inspired to accentuate the verticality of the space and convey the energy of "growing". This curved spine, composed of some seventy floor-to-ceiling wood posts (pine 2x10 finished to 8" deep), sets the space in constant movement with slants and sways in various directions. It divides the space into guest area and work area without separating them. It obscures at some vantage points but becomes transparent at others. The eroding imprints of these 8" deep wood posts with textured charm create a pass-through and waves of sensual contours on the spine and articulate it as a breathing diaphragm.

The spine also acts as the link between a display wall and the display window on the street front: two platforms that showcase Flora's artistic output. The display window at one end of the spine addresses the public with Flora's signature arrangement that is reinvented from time to time. The display wall at the other end, black foam wall panels punctuated with mirrored windows that support adjustable glass shelves, serves as an ever-changing stage for daily floral performances. A long Corrian counter weaves through the spine and the entire space is where all the creative work is executed. Peering through the gaps of the spine the display wall is a constant inspiration for floral works. Natural light filters through the spine screen and merges with the artificial lights, constantly transforming the space throughout the day.

Jeff Chen, the creative mind behind FLORA, sees beauty in all parts of the floral materials and would utilize them fully - an anti-consumerist spirit in a field that constantly processes through perishable resources. Incorporated into the new design a number of products were reincarnated from the previous location, such as mini TV monitors, display light shelves, as well as presenting regular pine 2x10s to be the main finish material for the spine as a tribute to such respect for natural resources.

Dark brown, black and white with a splash of fresh apple green complete the principal color scheme that complements the floral art.
Photographer: © Wei Ming Ruan
Photographer: © Wei Ming Ruan
Photographer: © Wei Ming Ruan
Photographer: © Wei Ming Ruan
Photographer: © Wei Ming Ruan
Photographer: © Wei Ming Ruan
Photographer: © Wei Ming Ruan
Photographer: © Wei Ming Ruan
Photographer: © Wei Ming Ruan
Photographer: © Wei Ming Ruan
Photographer: © James Wilkins
Photographer: © James Wilkins
Photographer: © James Wilkins
Photographer: © James Wilkins
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect in collaboration with Artctangent Architecture + Design
Photographer: © Javier Oddo
David Hu Architect in collaboration with Artctangent Architecture + Design
Photographer: © Javier Oddo
David Hu Architect in collaboration with Artctangent Architecture + Design
Photographer: © Javier Oddo
David Hu Architect in collaboration with Artctangent Architecture + Design
Photographer: © Javier Oddo
David Hu Architect in collaboration with Artctangent Architecture + Design
Photographer: © Javier Oddo
David Hu Architect in collaboration with Artctangent Architecture + Design
Photographer: © Javier Oddo
David Hu Architect in collaboration with Artctangent Architecture + Design
Photographer: © Javier Oddo
David Hu Architect in collaboration with Artctangent Architecture + Design
Photographer: © Javier Oddo
David Hu Architect in collaboration with Artctangent Architecture + Design
Photographer: © Javier Oddo
David Hu Architect in collaboration with Artctangent Architecture + Design
Photographer: © Javier Oddo
David Hu Architect in collaboration with Artctangent Architecture + Design
Photographer: © Javier Oddo
David Hu Architect in collaboration with Artctangent Architecture + Design
Photographer: © Javier Oddo
David Hu Architect in collaboration with Artctangent Architecture + Design
Photographer: © Javier Oddo
David Hu Architect in collaboration with Artctangent Architecture + Design
Photographer: © Javier Oddo
David Hu Architect in collaboration with Artctangent Architecture + Design
David Hu Architect in collaboration with Artctangent Architecture + Design
David Hu Architect in collaboration with Artctangent Architecture + Design
David Hu Architect in collaboration with Artctangent Architecture + Design
David Hu Architect in collaboration with Artctangent Architecture + Design
David Hu Architect in collaboration with Artctangent Architecture + Design
David Hu Architect in collaboration with Artctangent Architecture + Design
David Hu Architect in collaboration with Artctangent Architecture + Design
David Hu Architect in collaboration with Artctangent Architecture + Design
David Hu Architect in collaboration with Artctangent Architecture + Design
David Hu Architect in collaboration with Artctangent Architecture + Design
David Hu Architect in collaboration with Artctangent Architecture + Design
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision
David Hu Architect with New York New Vision

Visual Code: Architecture of Virtual Reality

The present cultural context into which Taiwan has evolved is fleetingly transient, as if culture were a disposable product to be consumed in a fast forward mode. This phenomenon reflects the island’s tumultuous recent history. Signed away by the Qing Dynasty to the Japanese in a peace treaty in 1895, the residents here endured a drastic change of governing from a corrupt Chinese rein to a harsh foreign one. The World War Two ended the 50-year Japanese ruling in 1945 and the Chinese Nationalist government has since regained control over Taiwan. Led by Chiang Kai-Shek the Nationalists were defeated by the Communists and fled Mainland China in 1949. Determined to recover the Mainland, the paramount goal for Chiang’s government was to transform the island into a military stronghold. While the recovery was never realized, Taiwan has since maintained its sovereignty under the same political pretext for decades.

This political milieu laid a few definitive paths for Taiwan’s social development. In order to fend off the threat from Communist China, Chiang's despotic regime adopted a hard-line rightist ideology polarized from that of the Mainland. The result was the deprivation of polemic and analytical training in the entire education framework that was crucial to its modernization processes. With the ambition to recover the control over Mainland, the Nationalist government fiercely fortified Taiwan as a provisional military foothold. The result was a prevailing pathos that regards the island as a place to be exploited and eventually abandoned. With limited options and an intrinsic desire for economic success, Taiwan accelerated into its super consumer-capitalistic state with little concern about setting foundations for long term political, social and economic goals. Under such zeitgeists a uniquely ephemeral culture developed, and manifested poignantly in its architecture and physical environment.

It can be paralyzing for architects to work within such a context: projects are done under extremely tight and volatile schedules that repudiate cultural dimensions and intellectual depth in the design processes. The difficulty in finding cultural underpinnings for the profession is amplified by the displacement of, and rapidly diminishing, traditional values and lifestyle in the social transition from the earlier Japanese occupation and the civil war. This situation is exacerbated by the lack of critical insight into the content behind the technically transferable cultural information from the West that has been quickly adopted in the process of economic progress. Consequently, architecture practice is stripped of genuine vitality, and its intrinsic analytical process is outpaced by the convenience of borrowing "visual codes" to commodify building forms. In most cases, it is through the reprocessing and replicating of these visual codes that architectural styles are formulated.

Three tenets of these "codes" that dictate the current trend can be defined: Firstly, a REGIONAL CLASSICAL REVIVALISM, propagated by post-modern consumerism, commercializes traditional, classical architectural elements by direct application of these elements. Secondly, GLOBAL CORPORATE IMAGE, adopted from the omnipresent international corporate culture. Its canonical spatial imagery is exploited to validate local businesses with global status symbol. Thirdly, replications of CONSUMABLE EXOTIC VISUAL ELEMENTS AND LANGUAGES, directly transplanted through the pervasive networks of international media, are appropriated to ratify the society’s newly attained consumer power in acquiring “culture”

One overarching characteristic, however, can be surmised from these three trends: whether the origin of the visual content is derived from the culture’s own past, from an imposed universal imagery, or from the willing import of exotic visual codes, the result of these processes presents a casual, distancing “two-dimensionality”.
Through the development of our tectonic world, as architectural history and discourse convey, terms of the “real” have been the core issues for structures. Our built environment enhances our sense of presence; the real provides our visual input with a representational matrix of conception. And as our visuality evolved, the development of the two-dimensional representation of the real became an inseparable measure for perceiving, conceiving and conceptualizing the three-dimensional realm. At times two-dimensional representation has assumed the thematic disposition in the process of making architecture. Arguably, for instance, the post-modern historicist discourse has indorsed the re-adoptions of classical texts and visual ornaments in forms of two-dimensional applications in architecture. New building technologies have also provided affordable possibilities for many cardboard edifices that have visually transformed our landscape since the late sixties.

However, as our visuality is fundamentally shifting at the dawn of the information age, the “two-dimensionality” that is the subject here embodies an entirely different meaning: a two-dimensionality manifested by television, computer/internet, movie, photograph and various forms of publications; in short, the MEDIA. Our life today is closely bonded with media. Our living experiences, in many ways, are compressed into “two-dimensional virtual reality” for we are heavily relying on information and the value system emerged under its influence to validate our real life experiences. In other words, our reality is subverted by a subconscious integration of a wide spectrum of two-dimensional representations of our lives. This phenomenon is significantly evident in a social context in which its continuity of historical and cultural structures have been displaced -- a society such as Taiwan’s. Without a sustaining critical cultural basis, architectural practice becomes a casual commercial act of making trendy commodities. Its value comes from validating the products with the latest popular information. Its purpose is to provide images that permit consumers to confirm their cultural memories collected from various sources, whether these are memories of their own past, the outside world or simply “the media” itself. The fact that architects would operate in this fashion implies enthusiastic consent from their commissioners and the society. Architects communicate with their clients through the manipulation of these imageries; or, should we say, convinced by the confirmed information, these clients are eager to “live” in the value system symbolized by these images.

As globalization quickens, one other factor, we must inspect, that conspires to formulate this “shared reality” is the new era of tourism. As the global social, political and economic contexts are going through unprecedented metamorphosis, tourism defines the new-found stature for a rising generation of bourgeois and nouveau aristocrats. Architects and their clients not only can share the same information through media, they can reconfirm it with the “experiences” of touring the very same places and compare their photos and videos back home.

In fact, the situation of which I am familiar and critical about in Taiwan is just a compressed micro-image of the larger world. The way information reality is a global exploitation today, it penetrates all boundaries which once demarcated people and cultures. Its verisimilitude and immediacy warrant its super-consumability, and the impact of this new technological progress has yet to be grasped and fathomed. What, then, should this volatile time demand of the discipline which, historically, carries the mission of constructing the real and passes on the tradition of the physical embodiment of culture? What do these visual codes, indiscriminately coming through the torrent of information, signify in their own historical or social context? Do they trigger the same emotional responses, same memories, or even help to provide the same foundation of values as in their places of origin? If not, shouldn’t it be the responsibility for architects to appreciate the subtle cultural nuances while interpreting these codes?

Paradoxically, cultural heritage is baggage as well as nourishment for architects. The divergence is acutely manifested at moments when societies are at their evolutional junctures, just as the information technological revolution today can evoke fear and nostalgia that contaminate its true potential with the compressed reality and burdens of the past.




David Hu
August 1996.
Photographer: © Javier Oddo
Photographer: © Eric Laignel
Photographer: © Eric Laignel
Photographer: © Eric Laignel
Photographer: © James Wilkins
Photographer: © Francois Dischinge

David Hu Architect


148 Madison Avenue Suite 1601.

New York, NY 10016


P / 2126294180

E / david@davidhuarchitect.com

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