Klein Blue Hills and White Cliff by Wutopia Lab

Klein Blue Hills and White Cliff

There is a slender water line between the sky pond of the copper blockhouse and the red brick building. If you go along the water line you can trace its source hidden in the northernmost part of the EKA Park, Klein Blue Hills and White Cliff, renovated from a roof-covered stockyard and a duty room. I planned seven locations for the park, hoping that their sequential opening would activate the PLOT of the park.

As the focus of the park, there is a thin connecting thread behind the Copper Blockhouse. the Klein Blue Hills and the White Cliff, and the Copper Blockhouse are a family, they are two of the seven locations. I conceived the PLOT through symbols, metaphors, mythology, charms, history, and spontaneous ideas. The knowledge I gained in selecting structures, materials, site analysis, and historical typologies served as a secondary framework between the PLOT and the design.

I consider the Klein Blue Hills as Mr. Chen’s wife and my wife, who are suffering from illness. I hope they can live well. Cyan in the east, symbolizes vitality. This is why I intended to use the color cyan. My judgment is validated by the research in “The Golden Peach of Samarkand”, which confirms that WU Zetian used lapis lazuli to represent the sky. The “cyan” in lapis lazuli is Klein Blue. Furthermore, I connect this to the green mountains in Khanbaliq mentioned in “The Travels of Marco Polo”.

He describes the mountains, palaces, and trees are seamlessly integrated. Extracting from this historical type, I designed the roof of the architecture as an undulating mountain shape, resembling a tent settling on the site. The inspiration for this tent came from the section on “Wheeled tents of the Tartars ” that I came across when reconfirming the green mountains in Khanbaliq. Thus, initially, I named this building Klein Blue Tent.

The design is simple, but life is not easy. Our moods fluctuate with the results of wives’ medical reports, from nervous, anxious to relief, then back to the next cycle. Life is always in a state of uncertainty. In comparison, my wife appears calm and composed. I told the project manager, MU Zhilin, to use metal, allowing this soft building to be covered by a shiny armor. Special structure and customized curtain wall consultant, FLO suggested arranging aluminum panels in a pattern of fishskin to conform to the undulating shape.

Since life is full of unpredictability, I painted the entire interior in white. At the same time, uplifting words are needed to encourage me, and it is the golden gate represents those wonderful memories, while the orange circular window is a blessing. When the curator HE Genxiang shared the photos on social media, someone commented, “Waves.” I said, “Wave-like Hills.” This is the birth of Klein Blue Hills, straightly inspired by life. Under the undulating Klein blue hills, there’s our “swaying world”.

“I Please the World with Pain”
In 2020, due to pandemic control measures, I spent around 40 days accompanying my wife in isolation at the hospital. Initially, Tangtang stayed at a friend’s place, and later, a pregnant lady kept her company. Afterward, Tangtang cut her hair. A gentle girl turned into an energetic tomboy. At the beginning of 2023, when I had to give a speech, weakened by illness, I decided to use a cane. Tangtang told me that the cane was ugly and insisted on supporting me herself, becoming my “cane.” Over these years, she had experienced nothing less than panic, bullying, and worry.

Therefore, I decided to design the duty room into two layers. A translucent PVC fabric curtain wall outlines the white cliffs whereas the interior is a solid geometric form. We look at children from a high vantage point, assuming they need protection and are also vulnerable. However, our children may be resilient. Any setbacks they face will be a baptism for their future exciting lives. This forms the two-layer boundary of the white cliffs.

“Taking this moment as an example, I recall those verses filled with dust”
I have always felt that the intricate floor designs in landscape architecture are unnecessary and a waste of money. I covered the entire site with red concrete. In this way, there is a complete background for the entire architectural complex.

I retained the chimney, designing it as a lighthouse and signpost. Mr. Zhan, the deputy general manager of our client, asked me what I wanted to change inside. I said, “Turn it into a cigar lounge.” Yes, I imagined that I curled up on the sofa inside the chimney, Mr. Zhan and I lighting a cigar with Mr. Zhan, watching the smoke slowly drift towards the well-like sky. Perhaps, at that moment, it’s most relaxing moment for us busy middle-aged individuals.

“That is just fine”
The construction team entrusted MU Zhilin to ask me to choose between a brushed surface and a frosted surface as the treatment of fishskin. It was when raindrops lingered on the misty curtain wall surface, creating an unreal illusion, that the people on site understood why I didn’t choose the brushed surface. The Klein Blue Hills was originally supposed to be a restaurant and the White Cliffs was a bar.

As the completion approached, they were decided to be vacant for better opportunities. When shooting the interior of the empty White Cliffs, I requested to lay leopard-print flooring because during those difficult times, Tangtang fell in love with leopards and found encouragement in them. In the end, it was turned into tiger stripes on site. Tangtang advised me not to be too paternalistic. I thought, well, that works too; life doesn’t have to be so tense. Source by Wutopia Lab.

  • Location: Pudong, Shanghai, China
  • Architect: Wutopia Lab
  • Chief architect: YU Ting
  • Project manager: MU Zhilin
  • Design team: DAI Ruoyu, MI Kejie
  • Special structure and custom curtain wall consultant:Florian Rochereau
  • Metal Curtain wall design and Geometry Optimization: bespoke. Sur-Mesure Engineering Studio
  • Fabric curtain wall design: Roder Architecture
  • Lighting consultant: ZHANG Chenlu
  • Construction firm: Shanghai Qikufangyun Culture Technology Co., Ltd
  • Client: Shanghai Jiayun Investment Management Development Co., Ltd
  • Area: 330 sqm
  • Year: 2023.11
  • Photographs: CreatAR Images, Courtesy of Wutopia Lab