The 2016 Beijing Design Week is the occasion for the official launch of The Global School, an educational research center based in Baitasi focused on urban regeneration processes. During two weeks, the former Baitasi food market will be used as the temporary location of the school, becoming a hub for exhibitions, public lectures, seminars, workshops, presentations, etc.
The food market has been closed for more than a year and the building transformed into informal storage spaces and improvised dormitories for migrant workers. Our intervention aims at recovering the original spatial features of the market, which are part of the collective memory of Baitasi, and transform its linear sequence of abandoned rooms and corridors into a vibrant system of interconnected functional clusters.
The temporary nature of the intervention clashes with a traditional solid architectural renovation. Rather than aiming at a polished container and integrated design content, we understood the roughness of the environment as an element of contrast to play with: the old tiled walls and concrete counters can actually dialogue with the exhibited design pieces and the new furniture of the school. All the “hardware” – functional surfaces (tables, stages, seating areas) and new partitions – seems to emerge from the context, materializing into piles of bricks and rubber curtains (familiar solutions for many local shops), while the “software” – graphic panels and physical models – hangs from the ceiling on multiple planes detached from the containing walls, creating series of visual overlaps and conceptual dialogues between the different projects and the building itself.
In an environment that is essentially dark, the proposed lighting is not only functional in isolating and highlighting specific contents but also works as a way-finding system: colorful LED lines run from the entrance across the whole building indicating the paths towards all the activities of the school. A series of immersive light installations produces moments of visual intensity during the circulation, that indicate to the visitors when public events are taking place.
One could say that the architectural transformation of the food market, rather than creating the first physical venue of The Global School, is the built three-dimensional diagram of all the functional relationships that will take place in the future school.