An ubiquitous urban nomadic retail prototype housed in the streets of Hong Kong, the hawker booth, was the investigation of reinterpretation for our winning the open category of the competition for the 2009 Hong Kong & Shenzhen Bi-city Biennale of Urbanism/ Architecture BYOB [Bring Your Own Booth]. Embracing the roots of this with the merging of digital manufacturing techniques led to our winning entry for inclusion to the Biennale as one of the few American representatives, including Diller + Scofidio and Renfro, nArchitects among other designers from Asia. Realized through a flat pack strategy manufactured in the United states in 5 days, shipped via DHL in 2 days, and assembled in 3 1/2 hours in IKEA like manner on site in Hong Kong, illustrates the new speed of the making of the metropolis.
The origins of architect as master builder, and with now the role of production in the age of digital reproduction, causes to merge the digital tools value with analogue mastery. Rapidly growing dependence among artists and critical practitioners in the innovative use of design_ fabrication, are the new velocity for urbanity. The Peoples Republic of China is crucial for this due to their production of the ready-made architectural products awaiting reconfiguration and deployment through flat pack strategies. These processes initiated to influence the discourse of architecture’s production from static building to dynamic manufacturing evolution.
face[GUARD], mapped biohazard phenomenon digitally with rapid prototyping and deployment, rather than site analysis and traditional practice. Global manufacturing hold the potential for economic redefinition of a service based profession, to commercial object for sale. Starting with the common facemask commonly worn in Asia, combined with the spread of SARS, face[GUARD] merges these concerns reinterpreting the hawker booth into a version of product dispenser and health monitor. Made out of inexpensive 1/8 inch thick luan and an 1x ash wood structure, painted white and CNC perforated and manufactured, each of the four elevations of the booth is identified from low alert to pandemic various transparencies to opaque mediating human interactions. Ironically, the materials modified were stamped made in china, so a round trip back to the country of origin was technologically possible and assisted in clearing customs swiftly.
In the end, this project illustrated a hybrid approach to making urban architecture, embracing digital instruments and efficiencies. Following an ideological mandate for speed created a critical evolution to space making through efficiencies and alternative mediums making evolutional dynamism and avoiding the next architectural ism.
face[GUARD], 2009 Hong Kong and Shenzhen Bi-City Biennial of Urbanism and Architecture
Hong Kong, IL
April 4, 2011
School of Architecture at the University of Illinois, Urbana- Champaign