In the northern bank of the wetland of Starry Sky Sponge Park in Lin-gang Special Area of Shanghai, the three-in-one Tong Guan Stage service station includes a stage, a tower and a bridge.
The stage is named “Tong Guan”, which means “watch together”, inviting people to gaze at the stars, watch the birds, and enjoy the view of the wetland together with their loved ones all at this very veranda; the only high point in the park is the observatory tower, whose Chinese name “Xuan Xing” that means “rotating stars”, depicts the motion of the stars; “Yu Xuan”, which means “rotating feather”, is the name of the bridge, suggesting the form of the bridge is light as bird-feather. The word "Xuan", which means “rotate” in English, implies the common physical characteristics of this group of architectural/structural pieces.
Since Tong Guan Stage is adjacent to the wetland area, we decided to convert the construction site into a wetland as well, connecting to the existing one and enlarging the ecological system services provided by the park. The stage consists of a group of bungalows over the wetland. Facilities integrated within the stage include a bird-watching restaurant, a teahouse, an exhibition room, a stargazing supplies store, and public toilets. The scattered allocation contributes to the ventilation across the buildings and blends the stage into the micro wetland environment around.
To better accommodate activities taking place in different times of the day, all the exterior corridors are connected and lead to the rooftop observation deck, allowing visitors to enjoy the stage even before and after the closing time.
Facing the open wetland and the sparse forest, the volume of the Stage spreads out horizontally, crawling over the wetland and providing the longest possible bird-watching veranda (public) and a bird-watching restaurant with the widest possible view. In the inner courtyard, a continuous curved wall guides visitors’ sightlines to a pond of irises in the inner wetland.
It is human nature to gaze and daydream about the starry sky. In front of the open night sky background of Sponge Park, the Xuan Xing Tower made of fair-faced concrete gazes at the starry sky quietly like an abrupt yet calm boulder eye, stilly and firmly like a peak.
The Xuan Xing Tower is a structure designed for observational use and was originally closed to the public. Therefore, it has strict limits on area and cost. Nevertheless, we designed a staircase for the 6 meters square observation tower.
The form of the tower is kept simple and clear. An olive-shaped hole in the middle part of the tower forms a nebulous spatial surface, which creates some obstacles to the up-climbing process, but also provides a rare opportunity for enjoying the avian view of the park. The three-dimensional view frame displays different scenes as the viewer moves around under the sky full of stars. There are slits in the other two walls of the tower, which provide natural ventilation and lighting for the stairs, making the tower taller and slimer.
The bridge stretches over 50 meters, exposing all the steel structure without any exterior decorative panels, all white throughout, which endows the rows of rib steel plates a rhythm of lightness. The bridge deck is calm and ordinary, with simmering tension underneath. That’s the reason why all the beautiful views are seen below the bridge and adjacent to the river. The design of the rotating inclined beams with twisted-shape sections challenged the structural engineers, but the final product is worth all the troubles. This spatial distortion liberates the stiff steel and associates the structure with the light and free bird feathers.
The envisioned bird-watching restaurant eventually turned into a Starbucks Cafe, with a large logo hanging high on the top of the tower. Will the 26-meter-tall tower be the tallest Starbucks? There is no way to verify it, but in this vast park, it must be the closest buck to the Star. It is probably also one of the few Starbucks that faces a wetland and can listen to the wind and watch birds. It may also be the only one that encourages you to serve your own coffee up to the "Starbucks Theme Gallery" on the second floor. Once again, the wandering process reminds the visitors of the architectural features of the layout that breaks up the wind coming from all directions. Therefore, the best season to taste coffee here must be the season when the warm sunshine is lazy, the autumn forests are sparse, the reeds are dense, and migratory birds are flying southwards.
幕墙设计：中国建筑设计研究院有限公司 建筑帷幕设计咨询中心 孙洲、王刚、李平