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Outdoor Room: MODU's competition winning project for the Beijing Architecture Biennial
Outdoor Room serves as both an urban public space and a barometer of Beijing’s well-documented air quality crisis.
NEW YORK, NY.- MODU’s Outdoor Room project for the 5th China International Architecture Biennial creates an urban public space that reactivates Beijing's iconic Olympic Park while focusing on the air quality crisis in Beijing. The competition-winning project is part of the Biennial's roster of international architecture exhibitions, including pavilions designed by Wang Shu, Zaha Hadid, and Mohsen Mostafavi. MODU’s Outdoor Room will be open to the public through November 2013 and will be installed in six other cities in China.

Outdoor Room serves as both an urban public space and a barometer of Beijing’s well-documented air quality crisis. Along with the weather report, daily readings of air particulate contaminant have become part of everyday urban life in Beijing. On most days, pollution creates a dense gray fog that blankets the city and obscures visibility. On the occasional day of better air quality, urban forms suddenly materialize “out of the fog.” The concept of a city that disappears and reappears is central to the public experience of Outdoor Room. Within the pavilion, a large elliptical roof opening provides a visual measure of the air quality. On days of good visibility, the roof void frames clear views of the Olympic Observation Tower and beyond to the National Stadium. On days of poor air quality, the landmarks virtually disappear from sight. These drastic changes in perception draw attention to the pressing issue of air pollution as Beijing continues to grow exponentially.

The design of Outdoor Room precipitated the concept of the “room in the city” and its converse, the “city in the room.” Viewed from the Olympic Park, the “room in the city” does not attempt to recreate the urban boundaries that separate polluted outdoor air from conditioned and filtered indoor air throughout Beijing. From within the public space, the openings in the fabric walls and ceilings create a “city in the room.” This “city in the room” offers shifting views of the surrounding Olympic Park depending on the air quality level each day. In low visibility, the openings between the fabric wall and the ceiling panels virtually infill with the gray air enveloping the city. In better visibility, the torque geometry of the fabric panels creates a motion effect that changes dynamically from different vantage points within the Outdoor Room. All of the fabric panels were recycled from nearby exposition tent structures in the Olympic Park, highlighting existing environmental opportunities even in Beijing.

The structural design of Outdoor Room was developed with Ho-Yan Cheung of Arup.

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