Site: Taichung, Taiwan
Status: Conceptual Design
Client: City of Taichung
The orchid flower is a beautiful Taichung city icon with a rich, diverse, and ancient botanical history. The orchid is also a timely reference for a contemporary structural perspective on towers and a culturally significant form of environmental adaptability.
The morphology of the orchid introduces variations of column structures and aerated root systems as elegant embroideries. The delicate form sometimes shapes itself around found natural elements in a complex assembly of small parts. Here, the structural configuration of the Orchid Tower is Miesian in its intention of evolving structural characteristics of building. As Mies was expressing the thinness, lightness, and potential of steel material to transform our horizon into elegant reflective transparencies of form, the future direction of construction heightens strength to weight ratios to produce lighter structural members. These small parts work in collaboration to support the weight of dense vertical space. Because of growing population and natural resource concerns, exploration of vertical space structures is a critical question for architects today. Carbon fiber high performance materials, while primarily engaged in industrial products, are emerging as cost-effective pre-stressed materials. The Orchid Tower is a high strength diaphanous veil of carbon fiber reinforced concrete expressing the future of lightweight materials able to sustain variations in form and structure.
The orchid family is highly adaptable and one of the most diverse species with origins tracing back to pre-historic times. Taichung, Taiwan is recognized as a global orchid producer and an essential component of the local economy. This proposal showcases both the production of the flower and the display of its beautiful form. A series of ramps and elevators connect bulbs of program, creating a promenade inhabited by orchids. Viewed from the interior and seen from the exterior through the structural façade, the vibrantly colored flowers are sustained through an aeroponic system. This network of misting lines occupies the gap in-between enclosed building spaces to create an open-air market. The nutrient rich water recycles through the landscape in a productive feed loop, communicating the necessity for self-reliant systems occupying minimal ground territory. Suspended forms in vertical space express the thinness and lightness of the structural veil beyond and work with passive cooling strategies of air movement. Entering through the wetland of horizontal ground surface into four levels of museum, the visitor becomes aware of entering a botanical garden, traveling 1,000 feet into the air to observe the richly diverse environment of Taichung.