Anderson Anderson Architecture

Wuhan Blue Sky

LOCATION: Wuhan, Hubei, China

BUILDING TYPE: Residential Complex, Prefabricated modular steel construction


Wuhan Blue Sky Prototype provides a highly rationalized steel construction system that is cost effective; appropriate to the current site, program, and project partner production facilities; and readily adaptable to future diverse sites, programs and environmental conditions. The primary quality of the Blue Sky proposal is not so much in the precise form and space of its configuration for this site, but instead in the broad adaptability that this system provides for efficient design modification for this and future projects without altering the fundamental building components or detail engineering which can be continuously developed and refined in parallel with larger scale planning and program changes.

The fundamental building block of this system is a modular moment frame box assembly that can be easily stacked at full building height without temporary bracing or scaffolding, before in-fill beams are placed and floor slabs are cast. This construction sequence allows for extremely rapid, precise erection, with immediate working floor space providing safety and efficiency at each step in the building process. Each of these modules is designed to be prefabricated offsite for optimum efficiency and quality assurance, and is sized to match the international standard high cube shipping container dimensions. This regularity is central to the concept of factory quality; seamless transportation options within standardized truck, rail and overseas shipping systems; and the inventory and job site advantages of just-in time manufacture, uniform production scheduling and the ability to serve distant as well as local markets in order to maintain production line efficiency and sustainable job stability for the factory workers. This basic module is designed to incorporate all of the more complex building systems that will be most effectively produced in a controlled factory environment. For example, the moment frame module contains all critical structural welds. There is substantially improved cost and schedule efficiency as well as increased quality assurance just within this innovative modular framing system.

The basic moment frame module is adaptable for a range of conditions within efficient production limits, but unlike most modular systems, this core component does not require standardization or system limitation on the larger bulk of the building infill, which can be developed with great design flexibility, since the most complex construction issues are efficiently contained in the base module. In addition to the base module that defines the bulk of the building volume for both residential and ground level commercial and public space, the Blue Sky Prototype system provides an additional kit of parts that delivers specialized green technology capabilities along with a distinctive and inspiring thread of spatial experiences within the public and community circulation and social spaces. This secondary kit of parts is based on spherical geometric volumes framed with rolled hollow tube steel structure in-filled with a calligraphic steel rod screen of varying densities created by overlapped windings of steel rod efficiently produced using standard cad-cam rebar bending and spot-welding machinery. This distinctive thread of lacy spatial definition serves multiple purposes as it weaves through the public spaces of the buildings. Its primary function is as a fine-grain modulator of light, wind velocity and privacy as a seemingly light and fluttering screen wall embedded across the deep ventilation corridors of the south façade. While the overall form of the building does most of the solar screening and wind channeling, the screen wall is an essential tool for optimizing the varied shading and wind screening needs that analytical software identifies at each point and elevation in the building.

All aspects of the project design are intended to facilitate a healthy, sustainable and joyful open-air life of “streets” and public gardens in the sky. The “streets” occur at every other floor in the building, providing great efficiency and facilitating social interaction. The building is highly porous and is designed to provide abundant air and light at all sides of each dwelling unit, and to make for pleasant travel and accommodation throughout the building. The residential tower is integrated with the surrounding site with strong spatial, environmental, and social connections that work to weave the building into the life of the surrounding community.

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