The winning scheme's general layout follows the north-south axial approach 'of Peking 's Imperial Palace, and uses a design philosophy based on a progression of spaces: (1) Introduction: forecourt, future park (2) Transition: entrance, pavilion and arcade (3) Pause: entry court, enclosed Chinese Garden and smaller courtyards (4) Climax: main gate, central hall and future False Creek extension. The central axis is based on the entire block frontage on Pender Street to maintain symmetry for the site, but the enclosed gardens and interplay of solids and voids form a significant part of the entire concept. Flexibility for extension and phasing is achieved by using a structural grid system where smaller courtyards and different functions can be easily "plugged in" to the framework of the complex - which is controlled by a covered pedestrian circulation and garden arcade. The winning architects' objectives are that "no particular strong architectural form other than the refinement of details is necessary." Chinese aesthetics in general are based on symmetry; human scale and the rhythmic alterations of solids and voids; dignity and harmony, rather than excitement and diversity are values that have been held by Chinese for centuries.
Construction for the winning scheme will be (1) Community, education, exhibition, library, studio and commercial: structure - reinforced concrete post and beam system design to allow for expansion, horizontally or vertically. Exterior finishes - all exposed concrete, heavy sandblasted finish. Interior finishes - brick tiles, carpet and sheet vinyl for floors, drywall, painted walls and suspended, exposed T-bar, acoustic panels. (2) Arcade: structure - reinforced concrete frame structure. Exterior finishes - sandblasted concrete, skylight with wire glass roof and brick tile floors. (3) Central hall: structure - concrete columns, steel space frame with wire glass roof. Floors are stone paving. (4) Main garden arcade: structure - wood post and beam, stain finish. Exposed wood deck ceiling, stain finish, brick tiles for floors and cedar shingle roof. (5) Restaurant: structure - wood post and beam. Exterior finishes - cedar shingle roof, stucco walls, post and beam. (6) Theatre and sports: structure - reinforced concrete columns and walls, steel truss and metal deck roof. Exterior finish - sandblasted exposed concrete.
(Specialized magazine excerpt)
The winning entry was one among many to use the axial approach. Certain subtleties distinguish it. The centre axis is based upon the whole block frontage on Pender Street, rather than the frontage immediately available to the Chinese Cultural Centre; symmetry is, therefore maintained for the whole site rather than for a part of it. Thus, the garden is maintained as an integral part of the whole plan. Two subsidiary axes recognize two other important directional focii. On the east approaching from Keefer Street, a vista is created. On the west, the approach leads directly to the main hall of the complex.
The slight recession of the main facade from the street line offers space for greenery, sadly lacking in the Chinatown area, and provides a resting-place for pedestrians in the dense, noisy activity of Pender Street. The jury saw a slight problem, however, in the winner's treatment of the northwest corner. It lacks interest when approached from the west.
The interior spaces offer a clear distinction between movement and rest; narrower halls directing one to the former, and gradually enlarging spaces to climax in the garden. Functionally, both building requirements and operational implications are considered. The educational areas, community centre, theatre, restaurant and gymnasium could all be separately phased without interference with each other. The exhibition and library facilities have easy access to unloading- loading service areas and can be separately controlled as to access. Similarly, the theatre, restaurant and gymnasium can have different reception areas and may be used independently of other community-oriented areas.
Finally, the winning scheme proposes a number of smaller landscaped areas that may provide variety of visual experience to users of the centre, as well as to passers-by. For example, on the east, a proposed amphitheatre may be used for more informal performing arts events. On the west, the approach to the main hall may be landscaped for a more intimate effect. As a further refinement, the senior citizens' lounge and the large meeting room on the northeast both look upon a proposed bamboo garden, a small oasis of tranquility for meditative visitors. In addition, both the library exhibition area and the restaurant enjoy views of the Chinese Garden.
The jury noted that although the model includes a concept for the proposed False Creek Park, the design of both the buildings and the Chinese Garden stand independently of any extension. The jury compiled the following unresolved points for the guidance of the winning designers.
(1) Sub-level facilities will have to be re-evaluated with consideration of the False Creek water table level, and the existing service lines underlying the site.
(2) Traffic access to and from the three main streets will have to be assessed for service areas, as well as for parking. Factors involved are: the projected change to two-way traffic on Pender Street, Carratt Street becoming a pedestrian link northwards to Gastown, and the greater increase of flow on Keefer as well as Columbia Street.
(3) Though visual interest has been affirmed for the site's southeast and south-west corners, it's more important north-west corner lacks any such statement. Whether approached from north, east or west, this corner requires a presence.
(4) The program 's requirement of 6,000 sq. ft. (557 m2) of flexible, multi-purpose space is not totally resolved.
(From jury report)
13 scanned / 13 viewable
- Site Plan
- Photograph of Model