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  • Architectural Timepiece

    Yihan LI, "Architectural Timepiece." Exterior rendering.
    philadelphia PENNSYLVANIA

    University of Pennsylvania, PennDesign
    critic: Simon KIM.

    suckerPUNCH: Describe your project.

    Yihan LI: Since the emergence of time as a concept, the circle has been a graphic representation that registers and measures the passing of seconds, minutes, hours, and even decades. . . .

    The torus may be seen as a three-dimensional form utilized to represent time as it travels through a cyclic loop. The geometric shape of the torus speaks of duration, of looped time, and of transformations along and in time.

    In this project, Boolean operations between varying tori in multiple dimensions indicate the interaction between durations—possibly time in addition to time, or interactions diluted by time—that reveal a new architectural realm featuring free curves which direct visitors’ movements inside flowing spaces. People will lose the perception of direction or time and find themselves worshipping in open and serene volumes.

    “Time travel” begins as parts of the architecture begin to rotate, breaking the default static configuration and thus creating new paths among each section; eventually, such rotational movement leads to the variation of program and circulation. The interior space becomes unpredictable, and continues to provide moments of surprise that deviate from its otherwise static and predictable, circular origin.

    sP: What or who influenced this project?
    YL: My colleague, Jie Xu, offered me valuable advice when I encountered frustration. He helped me realize the importance of balance between the predictable, pure, geometry, and the unpredictable spaces generated via duration. Ultimately, beauty is from the proper balance.

    sP: What were you reading/listening to/watching while developing this project?
    YL: Reading Aldo Rossi, A Scientific Autobiography and I Ching, an ancient Chinese classic.

    sP: Whose work is currently on your radar?
    YL: FreelandBuck; Belzberg Architects; Herzog & de Meuron; BIG; SANAA; and NAP Architects.

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