This centre seeks to wed Eastern thought and traditions with Western needs. Traditional Oriental principles of design are acknowledged yet are conceived in modern building materials utilizing current technology. Eastern concepts of supreme unity, commonality and psychological and sensory pleasures are played against Western concern for expressionism, individuality and sobriety. In a sense this centre embraces both cultures, recognizing such needs as street life and modern activity areas yet providing an inner sanctum.
The major elements in the centre complex are walled enclosures defining a series of inner and outer spaces. The established periphery of shops and buildings at the far edge of the surrounding three streets is effectively the " outer wall" of the complex. New paving, trees, openings to " active" alleyways, the major gateways in the Cultural Centre wall and the shops and activity areas located on Columbia and Pender Streets, establish the character of the zone within this outer wall.
From an indentation in the Pender Street south wall the pedestrian moves through a sequence of spatial experiences, from street gathering place to the Bright Hall, to the Exhibition Plaza and finally to the Chinese Garden. Street gathering place, formal in character and treed, is to serve as the focal point for community festivals, market days, etc. and as the main entry to the complex. Bright Hall and its ancillary meeting rooms (6,000 sq. ft. (557 m2) for banquets in Phase I, including circulation s pace) is the symbolic main " gate" to the garden / display areas and the other facilities provided. Two secondary gateways connect to the Bright Hall, from the Columbia Street lane and from Carrail Street.
An underlying philosophy of design and construction based on the Chinese notion of " Fang" (rectangular blocks derived from combinations of the basic square) serves as the unifying agent through out the complex. A 9' x 9' module (2.7 m x 2.7 m) is used as a basis for planning and proportional relationships. A strong north-south axis is established which allows for the traditional "struggle between formality and irregularity".
An oneness of building form is pursued, softened with screens and punctuated with repetitive posts and beams. Unity and harmony of parts is achieved through repetitive units, structural order and use of a limited vocabulary of materials. The horizontal is emphasized, and the aesthetic explored has more to do with the anticipation and joys of rhythmic spatial experiences (contraction and expansion) than with building mass. Only in the Bright Hall meeting rooms, exhibit areas and the teahouse/ restaurant pavilion are the decorative delights of the roof and its support system emphasized. It is intended that the most important decorative elements in the centre be free-standing and constructed in the vernacular; the lookout tower, the main garden pavilion, bridges and the Great South Gateway.
"A garden ought ... to be a living picture of all that is proper to a natural landscape so that it may arouse the same feelings and offer to the eye the same charms as this." This garden, the principal focus in the complex, is a traditional romantic landscape in miniature, utilizing as its major elements, foliage, rocks· and water. Earth berms are placed along the south, east and western edges to facilitate high growth evergreen planting. This serves as a background and to shield the inner garden from building overview and from the visual blight of the surrounding area. Three small islands, "the Eternal Isles" frame the axial vista to the south gate, while a small silting pavilion, a stone bridge and a stepped platform walk through an iris marsh provide architectural accents. Water emanating from the place of " Sweet Springs" (and helping to mask traffic noise) tumbles down rock waterfalls into a marsh basin, through " rapids" to the Great Lake which surrounds the teahouse / restaurant. Pines, vine maples, Acer Palmatum, flowering cherries and crab, and a wide range of bamboo provide the major vegetation. Low growing shrubs, ground covers, moss, gravel and rocks are the major elements covering the undulating ground plane.
This space is intended to be a place of tranquility, utilizing still water and the reflections of the lookout tower as major elements. Access to the tower is possible on special occasions but otherwise the area is to serve those using the lounge and library facility and the formal meeting room. Openings in the surrounding wall permit the passerby to glimpse into the interior and allow seniors' using the lounge to observe street life beyond. The lookout tower is considered one of the major artifacts in the permanent collection and is intended to be constructed by imported craftsmen from China, and financed by subscription.
This area, one in the sequence of spaces leading to the Chinese Garden, is symbolically one of the most important in the Complex the elevated and contained to heighten and dramatize the axial view to the Great South Gate and the eventual public park and water features beyond. Here artifacts will be displayed - old objects and reconstructions, providing its main interest. Water separates this area from the Bright Hall, a wall marks its southern extremity and a soft bamboo filter screens the space from the enclosing buildings and vista beyond.
The first stage has been planned to provide a major building complex which enhances Pender Street and allows the gardens to be developed and contained in their final form. Parking is located in future theatre and gymnasium areas. Upper level classroom space will be converted to offices in the second stage. Dance and martial arts area in first phase basement will become exhibition storage in Phase 2.
This area of raked pebbles, gravel mounds and well placed rocks is to be a transitional space between dance studios, shop / restaurant and the Chinese garden. It provides light at the building face and prevents intimidation of the main garden by the activities within.
STRUCTURE AND MATERIALS
All structure is poured-in-place reinforced concrete, sandblasted with integral colour (buff) when exposed to view. Infill and freestanding walls are jumbo splitface brick, Dawson Creek aggregate. Floors in the Bright Hall and exterior paved areas are warm, exposed aggregate. Other areas are natural oak parquet and carpet. Ceilings are concrete exposed structure, sandblasted with wood coffer inlays or fire resistant wood slats - all with concealed acoustic batts. Interior walls are drywall on metal studs. Doors are natural oak. Glazing sash is metal, storefront - thinline. Exposed screens are of various designs, expressing functions within, wiped Chinese Red stain on fir.
(Specialized magazine excerpt)
While similar to the winning entry in its use of an axial orientation, this submission differs by having two main features composed diagonally. The Tarrying Garden and the Chinese Garden are both asymmetrical in arrangement. While not disturbing in itself, there are two anomalies in this compositional irregularity. The pagoda in a water surround would serve as a visual marker of the site from the west, and also provide a charming view to occupants of the library's reading lounge as well as senior citizens' lounge, but its informality is at odds with the inherent formality of a pagoda as a religious monument (the stupa housing the historical Buddha's bodily relics). On the other hand, the east extension of the Chinese Garden would be largely invisible on the main axis, or even from the street.
On the axis itself, the alternative of closed and open spaces is less dynamically structured than that of the winner. The "Bright Hall", which would function as the main gathering place, is more restricted than the "Exhibition Court" which would attract more contemplative users. (Note: the ming-tang or "Bright Hall" of traditional Chinese architecture served as a ceremonial centre for imperial sacrifices, and not for community purposes).
Functionally, this scheme would present some difficulties in administration and operation. The educational and community service areas as well as potential rental spaces, all share common access. The tearoom/restaurant is less capable of independent activity than that of the winning entry, and is less integrated into the total design.
The jurors wish to commend the presentation of this entry and in particular the thoughtfulness with which details of landscaping are presented.
(From jury report)
11 scanned / 10 viewable
- Axonometric Drawing