Second Prize – Next7 2015 Competition

“To restore a building is not to repair it, nor to do maintenance nor to rebuild, it is to re-establish it in an ultimate state that has never existed before.”

Eugène Viollet le Duc 1855

Site: Hashima Island, Japan

 Once a thriving coal-mining town for almost 100 years, Hashima Island was completely abandoned when the major energy resource changed from petroleum to coal in 1974. Although the island was nicknamed – Battleship Island because of its overall form, there was never a master plan. It was just accident to the unforeseeable demand of coal in Japan. 40 years after the disappearance of people, homes, offices and factories, were cracking and subsiding, as if nature has taken over. Rather than following the usual trajectory of preservation, the proposal is a creative intervention that anticipates the process of decay and harvests energies and by-products.

Proposal: Amphibious Architecture

With the well-established infrastructure and climatic conditions, the re-inhabitation of the island will started through a renewable energy laboratory that will undergo continual construction and adaption to the fast-evolving energy industry as well as occupants’ needs. The proposal architectural system, entitled Amphibious Machine, was an inspiration from Amphibians which inhabit a wide range of habitats such as terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. In a terrestrial mode, the Amphibious Machine is simply a static structure that allow the habitation of a community. While in the aquatic mode, the machine will become dynamic that it could either floats according to the wave motions, or absorbs seismic movement with its built-in mechanism, thus, mitigate certain threats caused by sea level rise.

The Amphibious Machine is comprised of two major structural components. The primary structure in diagrid layout (for vertical loads), it acts with a scissor-like mechanism through the rotatable joint at each intersection. The secondary structure (for lateral loads) is composed of a hydraulic system which could extend and shrink. Both of these structural elements shall be made out of hollowed steel tubes, therefore, could float on water in any cases.

The Amphibious Machine took reference from an already in-use technology: Pelamis Wave Power which could generate electricity through both vertical and lateral wave motions. With such technological support, the primary and secondary structure could harvest renewable energy while mitigating disasters effect. This ensures the accommodated community could still be self-sustained and maintaining its performance during and after a disaster.

Four design objectives

1. Resurrection
– to preserve and reinforce specific architectural qualities that signify the identity of the island
2. Adaptation
– to allow dynamic spatial changes according to the occupants’ needs, and also for the fast-evolving energy industry
3. Energy Production
– to test prototypes for power generation and establish the island as a self-sustaining city.
4. Projective Obsolescence
-by projecting the natural decay process taking place on the island simultaneously, it would allow us to anticipate the intervention might become obsolete too.

Projective Obsolescence
Embracing the natural process of decay, the design intervention is not a one-off built entity, but a metamorphic process that encourages continuation of Hashima Island’s identity and functionality. Ultimately, the project anticipates the obsolescence of the island again, while the Amphibious Machines remain, continuing to harvest energy and establish the island as a techno-ruin.

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