设计单位 Wutopia Lab
设计咨询 TOPOS DESIGN
“Billions of people just living out their lives...Oblivious.”
On the evening of March 22nd, 2023, amidst a light drizzle, the exterior facade and lobby of the DoBe WE @ Shanghai Book City designed by Wutopia Lab, which was named "Iron Rain" by Yu Ting, were officially completed.
▲ 项目视频 ©CreatAR Images
I accepted this design appointment after the Spring Festival of year 2022. Looking back now, that period of time felt somewhat surreal. Despite the sunshine, I felt restless and distracted. The instructions I provided became vague and imprecise, to the point where even I was uncertain. Even my project manager, Lin Chen, whom I have known for 14 years, was at a loss. He showed me three proposals, and I reluctantly chose one, of which I even couldn't convince myself.
That day, after seeing off a friend who was leaving the country, I walked alone on Jinxian Road. The sun was shining brightly, but I felt like I was in a different universe, melancholy, dark, and damp, as if after a rainstorm. Suddenly, I thought, why not transform this damp feeling into my architectural language? And then, I remembered the movie, "The Matrix".
To me, the Matrix is a prophetic book filled with metaphors, symbolism, and even curses. In the 24 years since its birth, we have seen many prophecies become reality or come close to it, leaving us trembling and rejoicing. One of my most vivid visual memories from the movie is the digital stream behind Neo against the black background, which resembles a waterfall. For me, the ever-changing green digits are like a torrential downpour. In this day and age, no one can escape digitalization. We are all in the rain.
我原来想在思南书局诗歌店下一场雨，但最后改成“church in church”。由动而静，这次我想重新下场大雨。我们用分别为160、320、480毫米三种不同宽度总计500块的白色铝板，在我草图基础上根据程序生成的随机形态，在立面上“下起了大雨”。板上以随机的点和划组成的摩尔斯码穿孔形成信息雨，等待有人解读。大雨要有厚度，所以铝板以内中外三层如瀑布般落地，并在最外一层隐藏了雨篷，在保证视觉完整性上又不牺牲功能。
Originally, I intended to create a rain scene at the poetry store of Sinan Bookstore, but later changed it to Church in Church, which represents a shift from motion to stillness. This time, I want to bring back the heavy rain. We used 500 white aluminum plates of three different widths (160, 320, and 480) to create a randomized pattern based on my sketches, and simulated a downpour on the facade. The plates were perforated with randomly generated dots and dashes in Morse code, forming a message that awaits deciphering. To achieve the thickness of a real downpour, the aluminum plates were designed with three layers, cascading like a waterfall, and the outermost layer hides a canopy that maintains functionality while preserving visual integrity.
Upon entering the lobby through the rain, the downpour continues. I also designed the steel bookshelves in the shape of raindrops, extending the visual vocabulary from the facade to the interior, creating a sense of continuity. To simplify matters, I used the term "steel" to refer to both perforated aluminum plates and steel bookshelves, hence the name "Iron Rain."
The lobby is equipped with a large folding window, which, once opened, seamlessly integrates the interior and exterior spaces into a whole. The lobby is also immersed in the rain. The garden museum, the lobby's lounge area is created by the combination of red terrazzo seats and green plants. Because of the rain, I requested that the original column ornamentation be removed and their construction marks preserved as a metaphor, indicating that the heavy rain can cleanse our souls and reveal their true nature.
We use a modulus of 150 to control the visual effect of the white perforated steel bookshelves, which resemble a curtain of rain. The lobby is a transit space that connects the elevator hall and co-creation space. At these intersection points, we create a visual effect of a curtain being lifted, with a strong implication of "lifting the rain curtain," which can arouse people's curiosity to explore other spaces in DoBe.
I looked out from the lobby and saw the rain in the park. The public space of DoBe WE@ Shanghai Book City has been designed as a pocket garden. We simulated micro-terrain through the use of platforms to create a continuous landscape. The platforms are made of white marble and the flooring is made of gray landscape tiles, with seating, flower beds, steps, and water pools further refined. This creates a grid-like, accessible interpretation of the dry landscape garden.
The park is separated from the driveway of the other park areas by 3.2-meter-high black titanium mirrored stainless steel panels, which reflect the passersby and create a parallel universe. In other words, a single physical pocket garden hides countless various individual parks within it.
There is a prominent red line in the center of the lobby that leads to an electronic media screen located at the midpoint of the borders and the wall of the elevator hall. This red obelisk, with a proportion of 1:4:9, was inspired by the black obelisk in the movie "2001: A Space Odyssey." However, it is not silent but quietly rolling with a waterfall-like digital rain. It is the center of the park.
2020年，我买了一件铜丝编织的夹克，Full metal jacket。我着迷于外套微妙的折射和反射。所以在德必上海书城WE的“钢雨”的灯光设计上，我希望能展示出这种变化，让“钢雨”具有一种偶然不确定的丰富。或者说，我为德必上海书城WE穿上一件全金属夹克。这时候，“钢雨”具有一种防御性，保护我们。
In 2020, I purchased an full-metal jacket made of woven copper wire. I was fascinated by the subtle reflections and refractions of the jacket's surface. Thus, in the lighting design of the Iron Rain feature at DoBe WE @ Shanghai Book City, I aimed to showcase these transformations and imbue the Iron Rain with a sense of fortuitous richness. It was as if I had dressed DoBe WE @ Shanghai Book City in a full-metal jacket, with the Iron Rain now possessing a defensive quality that shields and protects us.
On March 31st, 2022, there were few people on the streets of Shanghai as the following day because of the Covid-19 lockdown. The entire city seemed gloomy, reminiscent of a desolate winter day. However, I was rather calm, as I understood the source of my anxiety at the time. During the period of lockdown, I reinforced my design, as I needed a steadfast attitude to face an uncertain future. Mr. Jia, the boss of DoBe and his team were surprised when they saw my design, as they have their own design company and this design exceeded their expectations. I told them that in such special times, we must be brave.
On March 22nd, 2023, tears filled my eyes as I watched Zhu Jingyi complete his writing overcoming his illness with unnoticeable effort. This year was difficult for every person in Shanghai. At one point, even I lost confidence. However, when I stood under the completed Iron Rain that Mr. Jia and his team had worked so hard on, I couldn't help but feel proud. This city does not bow down to adversity but instead looks towards the future with positivity. Every person has faced great difficulty, but they have shown bravery.
Everyone was surprised by the name "Iron Rain". I didn't tell them that it was actually a small manifesto. As an architect, one ultimately needs to find one's own materials and modes of expression. Architects seem to believe that concrete, wood, white paint, and glass have a certain authenticity that makes them morally superior. This has led to a trend of metal panels, which represent consumerism, increasingly seeking to simulate other materials or even to go to the extreme of using weather-resistant steel.
I used perforation to make the metal lose its material primacy. But if I only use one layer, it would simply be a veil on the building facade. When Professor Zhang Bin commented on the facade of my Wuji Academy 13 years ago, he used the phrase "layer upon layer of capitalist language". This phrase moved me to continuously experiment with using perforated panels to create volumes on the facade, ultimately forming the facade, not just a jacket fabric but the jacket itself. The layered perforated panels create a semi-transparent metal facade with contingency and uncertainty, which then prompts me to further shape the interior. In the future, all-metal may be one of my creative directions. Iron Rain is a milestone in my creative process.
Upon exiting the subway amidst a cluster of semi-old buildings, project manager Li Hao was astounded by the sight of Iron Rain. It was an incredible vision that seemed to foretell the future. This Iron Rain also caught the attention of another client on a nearby street, who became confident in my new work on East Nanjing Road. No longer bound by the past, we and Wutopia Lab together create the future.
“Morpheus: Time to fly.”