So to celebrate this Chinese New Year, the year of the rabbit, I will share a post on a wicked project from a couple of years back… It has nothing to do with bunnies… rather bugs.. but it is in the Chinese city in Shenzhen, so maybe that’s enough of a connection? The ‘Bug Dome’ structure is pretty fantastic, and given that it is Chinese New Year today, my guess is that some interesting festivities are taking place in it at this very moment… you know, like a competitive Twister tournament or somethin?

The Bug Dome was originally developed for the 2009 Shenzhen Hong Kong Biennale by the Taiwanese architecture group WEAK!  They constructed it on a run down lot between the Shenzhen City hall and an illegal workers camp.  The aesthetic of the structure is actually perfect for this location, as it definitely gives off a municipal ‘commissioned’ vibe while at the same time feeling rather derelict and edgy as if it were constructed by a tribe of nomads…

The Bug was constructed of bamboo and ‘weak’ concrete, a mixture of cement and soil found on site… The majority of the additional materials used were taken from the project’s immediate area, and will most likely end up there again when the dome is disassembled.  Overall, a very ecologically sensitive impact on the creation of the structure…

During the Bienalle, the bamboo dome was primarily used as an event space for poetry readings, discussions, bands, and of course karaoke.  It was also taken advantage of by a camp of illegal workers who used it as a lounge during and after the event.

The idea of weak architecture here represents a striking visual metaphor of impermanence and biomimicry… the use of primitive materials and construction methods mimic the organic architecture of nature, very much resembling the nest of the weaver bird… this rawness creates an intriguing relationship with the rigid and heavy urban surroundings, which reside primarily in the form of sterile glass and steel rectangles.  The right angles and geometric perfection of our cities are certainly efficient and impressive, but they abolish any sense of relating to the forms often seen in the natural world. This goes directly against biologist Edward O. Wilson’s idea of biophilia, the study of how humans relate to life and the natural world… his research has shown that people have a stronger sense of well being when exposed to the diversity of life on earth.  Basically, we suffer when deprived of nature… the artificiality of our built environment often represses natural elements, and I believe this directly correlates to our lack of collective stewardship… but perhaps that’s a story for another day?

photos from http://www.archello.com/en/project/bug-dome

But yeah… totally dig this Bug Dome!  Think the world needs more projects like this… doesn’t take a lot of overhead to build, uses local and natural materials, builds a sense of community through both construction and usage, and creates a dynamic metaphor for human habitation.  Nothin but good here!

So with that, I wish all y’all Metro Hippies out there a wonderful Chinese New Year… the rabbit is where it’s at… gonna be an epic year, right!?!

-j

About Joshua Foss


Joshua is a leading voice for transformational change. He is the editor of Metro Hippie, co-founder and director of development of the Ecala Group, and adjunct faculty at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. He is also an ambassador for the Living Building Challenge and is a frequent speaker at national conferences, trade shows and summits.