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Thread: Chengdu, China

  1. #1
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Default Chengdu, China

    Inspired by the Cell, With Mitochondrial Pools

    Artist rendering by Sloan Kulper

    September 12, 2006


    The blob is coming to Chengdu.

    A biomedical research institute in Chengdu, China, is planning to show true commitment to scientific principles by erecting an innovative building inspired by cells. Bulges on the surface are meeting rooms and are intended to represent the proteins embedded in a cell membrane. The interior pools, shaped like mitochondria, border on the surreal.

    The design may seem playful or even bizarre, but the intention is serious, said Shuguang Zhang, associate director of the Center for Biomedical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who worked with two M.I.T. graduates, Sloan Kulper and Audrey Roy, to bring his dream of “bio-inspired architecture” into being.

    “Nature has built this kind of thing for billions of years, and finally humans caught on,” said Dr. Zhang, who is founding adviser to the Institute for Nanobiomedical Technology and Membrane Biology in Chengdu.

    To many who do not share his enthusiasm, it might look as if somebody tried to make an office tower out of nougat and it melted in the sun. But to Dr. Zhang, standard buildings, with their straight lines and conventional boxy shapes, are “boring,” and the more imaginative works like those of Antoni Gaudi and Frank Gehry resonate. “People will turn their head regardless,” he said, whether “they like it or hate it,” and children will be inspired to learn biology.

    He said he rejected about a dozen designs from Mr. Kulper, a former student, before approving the current plan. “Some of them looked like Swiss cheese,” Dr. Zhang said. “Another looked like a cake.” He expects the building to cost $12 million and is still in the fund-raising phase, he said.

    He said he doubted that people would actually hate the building. “It’s biology,” he said. “How many people hate trees? How many people hate seashells and mushrooms?

    “When the Eiffel Tower was built,” Dr. Zhang added, “most of the people in Paris hated it. Now it has become a symbol of Paris.”

    Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

  2. #2
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Three at MIT conceive cell-shaped building

    Novel architecture planned for institute in China

    The Future Home of Institute for Nanobiomedical Technology and Membrane Biology in Chengdu, China

    Image courtesy / Sloan Kulper
    This illustration shows the interior atrium, featuring bridges representing X
    and Y chromosomes, designed by Sloan Kulper (S.B. 2003) and Audrey Roy
    (S.B. 2005) for their cell-shaped building, which will house the Institute for
    Nanobiomedical Technology and Membrane Biology in Chengdu, China.

    MIT News Office
    Sarah H. Wright
    News Office
    July 28, 2006

    Sloan Kulper

    An innovative cell-shaped building will house a new biomedical research institute in Chengdu, China, thanks to an unusual crossdisciplinary collaboration between Shuguang Zhang, a world-renowned bioengineer and scientist at MIT, his former student, architecture major Sloan Kulper, and computer science and electrical engineering major Audrey Roy.

    Kulper (S.B. 2003) and Roy (S.B. 2005) designed the cell-shaped building for the Institute for Nanobiomedical Technology and Membrane Biology in Chengdu, China, the regional capital of Sichuan province in southwestern China. The proposed new facility will contain 170,000 square feet of laboratory, research and meeting spaces; it is slated for construction over the next three years. The building is intended to look like a cell from the outside and to include an assortment of forms inspired by molecular biology inside.

    Shuguang Zhang, associate director of the Center for Biomedical Engineering, will serve as founding advisor of the new Nanobiomedical Institute, to be sited at Chengdu's Sichuan University, where Zhang received his undergraduate degree in biochemistry.

    Zhang met Kulper in 2002, when he took Zhang's course, "Molecular Structure of Biological Materials: Structure, Function and Self-assembly."
    In the class, Zhang frequently discusses the striking similarities between architecture and biological structures, he said. "Nature has produced abundant magnificent, intricate and fine molecular and cellular structures through billions of years of molecular selection and evolution.

    "These invisible molecular and cellular structures cannot be seen by the naked eye, but can only be observed with the most sophisticated scientific tools, such as X-ray diffraction and nuclear magnetic resonance, or modeled with advanced computers. But if they can be amplified billions of times as in a building, then these molecular structures can be seen, touched and admired. At that large scale, they can also be very educational for people of all ages," Zhang said.

    According to Zhang, the pioneering design for the cell-shaped building was inspired by "elegantly folded protein structures and their simple and beautiful structural motifs. The cell-shaped building attempts to combine the architecture and the biology structures," he said.

    Kulper said the design of the building also arose from the pioneering spirit he discovered among life scientists and biological engineers. "They are always working at the threshold of understanding," Kulper said.

    "When I took Shuguang's course, I was thrilled to learn that structural biologists had developed such an amazing language for describing new and complex forms. Also, structural biology is basically concerned with the sort of geometries that architects and designers often work with, though on a completely different scale. It's a very visual field that communicates more through illustration than through symbol," Kulper said.

    Image courtesy / Sloan Kulper
    The garden inside the cell-shaped building designed by Sloan Kulper
    (S.B. 2003) and Audrey Roy (S.B. 2005) would include such biologically
    inspired features as pools in the shape of endosomes, left, and mitochondria.

    A meeting of science, architecture

    The seeds of Kulper's involvement in the Sichuan University project began in conversations he had with Zhang, a known admirer of architecture, during the year in which he took Zhang's course. Zhang encouraged Kulper both to apply principles of scientific research to his work in architecture -- "Explore the unknowns and navigate the uncharted territories," he urged -- and to spend time in Zhang's laboratory learning about bioengineering.

    The next year, Zhang contacted Kulper with the news that he was now the founding advisor of a new research institute at Sichuan University.

    Kulper said, "Zhang offered me the opportunity to develop concepts for the building, which, as a biological research building, would give us an opportunity to design for a client that would appreciate details that referenced biological concepts. I started work on sketches immediately once he had given me some basic information regarding the functional requirements of the building as well as photos of the site in Chengdu."

    Zhang said he challenged Kulper with incorporating "as many biology motifs as possible" into his design and with using realistic construction materials.

    Zhang then sent Kulper to spend three summer months in Beijing with Roy, where they collaborated on a preliminary design for the building with architects at Tsinghua University's Architectural Design and Research Institute. Roy, currently a software engineer at Silicon Valley startup Sharpcast, Inc., designed and programmed "iQuarium," an interactive media installation on fish fluid dynamics, when she was at MIT.

    Kulper characterized the collaboration with his Chinese design teammates as a "highly gratifying, very hybridized process."

    Together, the international architecture team "developed sketches and models while simultaneously studying cellular structures that had formal similarities to the spaces we were designing. We worked with images of proteins, membranes and organelles alongside photos and textbook images of glazing systems and cantilevers," Kulper said.

    On the exterior design of the building, Roy commented, "Bay windows are scattered throughout the surface of the building, just like proteins in a cell membrane. They serve as convenient meeting places attached to both laboratories and offices."

    The biology of the building

    The final plan calls for a research and laboratory facility with six floors and a crystal-shaped lecture hall with a crystal diffraction pattern ceiling, full of various biology motifs, to be built for about $12 million - more than twice the current cost of a more traditional design in China, yet a small fraction of the cost of building in the United States.

    Kulper hopes to visit the construction site in Chengdu in time to catch some of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, he said.

    In the meantime, Zhang has produced a book on the design process for the cell-shaped building. On viewing the renderings of the building, Institute Professor Phillip Sharp commented, "The building is very interesting. I have always wondered what it would be like working within the cell."

    Ingemar Ernberg, a tumor biologist from Sweden's Karolinska Institute, not only immediately arranged for a Swedish architect to visit Zhang but also invited Zhang to give a talk to a group of Swedish architects.

    As Zhang wrote in the preface of the conceptual design book, "It is hoped that the first molecular bio-architectural design will further stimulate many diverse architectural designs that are inspired from biology structures."

  3. #3


    Hah! anyone that cn collect architectural fees for such a pile of turd should be respected, if nothign else, for their chutzpah and grifting skills. Those poor Chinese, workign their asses off to "buy "such dreck from the West -- talk about "unfair terms of trade" issues

  4. #4


    Quote Originally Posted by Luca View Post
    Hah! anyone that cn collect architectural fees for such a pile of turd should be respected, if nothign else, for their chutzpah and grifting skills.

  5. #5
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Chengdu is near the epicenter of the recent earthquakes in Sichaun China ...

    Chinese troops tackle quake lake

    Dozens of new lakes were formed
    by the 12 May earthquake

    26 May 2008 10:43 UK

    Troops in China are trying to clear a river blocked during the recent earthquake, amid fears millions could be at risk of flooding. About 1,800 soldiers took explosives to the newly formed "quake lake" to try to blast away debris, state media said.

    The official death toll from the earthquake rose to 65,080 on Monday, with another 23,150 missing. Safety concerns in the region remain high. On Sunday six people died from the effects of a strong aftershock. The Chinese authorities say nearly 300,000 homes were wrecked in the aftershock, and more than 1,000 people injured. The tremor was the most destructive yet of thousands of aftershocks in the last two weeks.

    Flood concerns

    Landslides caused by the Sichuan earthquake have blocked rivers and formed new, possibly unstable, lakes. Satellite images taken by the Taiwan's National Space Organisation (NSPO) show one such lake forming in Beichuan County, one of the areas worst hit by the quake.

    Satellite images reveal a lake forming in Beichuan County

    Dozens of lakes were formed when landslides triggered by the massive 12 May earthquake blocked rivers. On Sunday, Vice Minister of Water Resources E Jingping said that the lakes were "under control" but described the situation as grim. Heavy rain forecast for the next few days could cause the barriers blocking the lakes to burst and flood nearby areas, he told a news conference.

    Of particular concern is the Tangjiashan lake, 2 miles (3km) from Beichuan town, which has been rising fast. Water levels now stand only 29 metres below the level of the barrier, Xinhua said. "The lake is now holding more than 128 million cubic metres of water and may cause a devastating flood if the barrier bursts," it said.

    On Monday, troops carrying 10kg of explosives each arrived at the lake to begin blasting work. Thousands of people immediately downstream from the lake have already been evacuated.

    Up to Sunday 25 May: 62,664 people dead
    358,816 injured
    23,775 still missing
    More than 5.4 million homeless
    638,305 rescued and resettled
    More than 8,000 aftershocks, biggest 6.0
    69 dams faced danger of collapse, 310 in dangerous state and another 1,424 facing moderate risks
    Source: Chinese government
    There is also continuing concern over the state of dams in the region. E Jingping said 69 dams were at one time in danger of bursting, although steps have been taken to reduce the risk. More than 300 more were affected by the earthquake, he added, saying many had been drained or had their water levels reduced.

    Some five million buildings have collapsed across the region and around the same number of people are homeless, officials say. Many people are living in tents or temporary shelters. China has appealed for international aid for the survivors.

    Officials fear that the bad weather forecast for the next few days could hamper relief efforts. A BBC correspondent in China, Dan Griffiths, says such conditions may thwart hopes to complete reconstruction within three years.


  6. #6


    They say China is the lab for the designer bigshot architects, stuff theyd have to tone down in the West or would cost exorbitant amounts can be built for less than one quarter the price in less than one third the time (the labour pool is so vast and cheap, alternating nonstop day and night shifts is the norm), with no design changes other than extra strengthening of the buildings (skyscraper design codes have to withstand not just high winds, fires and bomb plots but yearly typhoons, at least one major flood per decade and a strong earthquake zone). Also with much less bureaucracy. A 15 storey building takes less than 8 months to build, a 30 storey skyscraper is 18 months. A supertall skyscraper, 100,000 seater stadium or worlds largest airport, all of them state of the art, 4 years from design to opening ceremony.
    Last edited by zupermaus; May 26th, 2008 at 12:06 PM.

  7. #7


    What are the safety stats from China?

  8. #8


    construction safety is terrible, thousands die every year from building sites to mines. Thousands more who work in factories are often laid off at a moments notice (usually because the company is in breach of ecological laws), or are poisoned by the chemicals (and after which theyll be laid off by the govt again for the same reasons).
    There are laws and surprise checks, but far more widespread abuse and corruption. The govt is trying to instate some of the best working laws to counterract this (apparently the country had 1 million demonstrations last year, mostly work related) that will be better than the EU. Of course the threat is that everything will become much more expensive if this happens, and Im sure there will be another lobby of govt (the economic/ new capitalist rather than socialist arm), that will try and stop it.

  9. #9


    So thats the flipside.

  10. #10

  11. #11


    World's largest building opens in China
    By CNN Staff
    updated 2:08 AM EDT, Mon July 1, 2013
    (CNN) -- The superlatives in China continue -- the latest symbol of China's "bigger is much, much better"
    ethos is open for business.

    Located in Chengdu (population 14 million), capital of Sichuan province in southwestern China, the New Century Global Center is the largest freestanding building in the world, Chinese officials say.
    Though the words "world's largest" usually bring to mind an image of a towering skyscraper, this project actually isn't all that tall. But it's certainly big.

    At 500 meters long, 400 meters wide and 100 meters high, the 1.7-million-square-meter mega-structure is capable of housing 20 Sydney Opera Houses and almost three times the size of the Pentagon in
    Washington, D.C. The Global Center, which opened June 28, is home to business offices, hotels, theaters, shopping malls, a faux Mediterranean village and family-themed attractions such as a water park called Paradise Island.

    The New Century Global Center is located in an entirely new planned area of Chengdu called Tainfu New District. Chengdu is also currently expanding its subway line and plans to construct a new airport by 2020, further suggesting official ambitions to make the city an economic and cultural capital of western China.

    From June 6-8, Chengdu hosted this year's Fortune Global Forum, an annual invite-only event featuring chairs, presidents, and CEOs of the world's largest companies.According to Xinhua, China's official state media, by the end of 2012 Chengdu's GDP had hit 800 billion RMB (US$130.48 billion).

  12. #12
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    The New Century Global Center complex:

  13. #13
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    You can almost make it out through the soupy Chengdu smog ...

  14. #14


    Horrible place.

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