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  • MEGA Monolithic Form

    Chenxiang Shawna MENG, "MEGA Monolithic Form."
    los angeles CALIFORNIA

    SCI-Arc
    advisor: Marcelo SPINA.
    award: The Blythe and Thom Mayne Undergraduate Thesis Prize

    suckerPUNCH: Describe your project.

    Chenxiang Shawna MENG: This thesis presents the possibility for an architectural mass to act as a building and site simultaneously, questioning the identity of both entities. . . .

    The project is the design of a new cultural complex in the city of Kaliningrad on the site of the castle ruins. If the site of the original castle was the city and its complex infrastructure, then the site for my building is the castle itself. By carving out the courtyard from the castle ruins, a formal connection between the castle and the city as its site is re-introduced. Likewise, carving out boulder-like shapes from the castle’s massing also creates a formal relationship between these lapidary masses and the castle as the site of the building. This thesis explores and exploits the shifting dialogue between the site and the building and raises the question of whether a building can act as a site without being fully integrated into the site.

    Monolithic architecture is not only characterized by its vast scale, it is monumental and provocative through the balance between apparent simplicity and actual complexity. In the project of redeveloping the historical site where the former House of the Soviets was located, the idea of establishing a monolithic presence on the site drives the design process. First, the absent castle is referenced by using its ground plan to outline the perimeter of the new site. This outline takes on a monolithic form through extruding it directly from the ground to generate a mass and subtracting smaller masses to imbue the form with a new silhouette. The presence of striations in the building’s raw material, concrete, also suggests a contemporary replication of geological formations. Inside the outline of the castle, is the mega-monolithic form, a multiplicity of individual, simple elements are interwoven, adopting the unified character of being monolithic. The massiveness and bulkiness of the building provides a clear registration of its solidity. Instead of translating an elaborate, repetitive pattern into a physical entity, it is transformed into a two dimensional and partially three dimensional, spatial effect inhabiting the surface of the building. The pattern generates an illusional spatial volume and at the same time, its striation conjures the roughness of natural stone.

    sP: What or who influenced this project?
    CSM: Marcelo Spina.

    sP: What were you reading/listening to/watching while developing this project?
    CSM: N/A.

    sP: Whose work is currently on your radar?
    CSM: N/A.

    sP: What or who influenced this project?
    CSM: N/A.

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