Aurelien Chen - Dragon Mountain Pavilion, an optical illusion immersed in different temporalities
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Dragon Mountain Pavilion, an optical illusion immersed in different temporalities

Aurelien Chen

Special Projects  /  Completed
Aurelien Chen
General description

Above all else, this installation is a landmark placed by the roadside to draw the attention to the entrance of the Dragon Mountain Natural site (Zhulong Shan), a typical example of « Shanshui » traditional Chinese landscape composed by mountains, forest, clouds and water. The client wanted something radical, definitely contemporary. However, its design should still evoke the elements of the traditional Chinese mountain landscape: mountain, water, clouds, trees.
There are three different sequences of approach to this work, and just as many levels of perception in this installation: the first level is from far away, the second level is when the visitor passes by the installation while driving, and the last is the experience of the space within the installation.
While approaching the site from the street, a vibrant mountain composed by 200 inox poles of different height subtly appears in the distance.
There are two main effects I tried to render with the use of materials. The first effect is an optical illusion given to the visitors who arrive by car. Each pole is made of three different materials, which are, from the base to the top: stainless steel, polished stainless steel, white paint. With the effect of the speed, the poles become a single surface and the reflections created by the different materials composing the poles reveal the shape of a mountain.
The second effect is more abstract. It refers to the "time", more precisely to different temporalities. It’s a contrast with the adjacent road. To speed, to the pragmatism of fast movement, I counterposed a poetic experience, a temporal and spatial pause. A moment of calm and reflection on the elements composing Chinese traditional landscape. The images of cars passing by are reflected over the poles, they disappear behind the poles and reappear between the gaps. Inside the installation there is an opposite temporality. A slow temporality, marked by the shadows of the poles, aligned as in a solar clock, and also by the lighting effects created by the rays of sunlight passing through the perforations of the artificial clouds placed on top of the poles.
At night, thousands of stars appear on the poles, perforated randomly, and give shape to a mountain vibrant with light.

Technical report :

As many projects in China, this installation was supposed to be built extremely fast, while the construction cost should remain very low. The design was supposed to be very easy to build, as it was intended to be built by non-specialized local workers. Low construction cost, low-tech and fast construction. These three parameters definitely gave the main design directions, from the very beginning. Indeed, there is a very limited number of construction elements.

The "mirror clouds" are made of modular triangles, that can be easily adapted to every kind of poles thanks to a very simple assembly node. All these elements could be prefabricated locally and easily put in place on construction site. The perforations of the poles as well as the changes of finishing material, were generated through parametric design, making it easy to adapt to the different poles.


 Rizhao FaDa JiTuan
 350 mq
 Aurelien Chen
 Aurelien Chen, Zhijian Worskhop (design support), Zhou Zhipeng (parametric design), Urban and rural planning and design institute of CSCEC (overall planning)
 Aurelien Chen


Aurelien Chen is a French architect, building engineer, and architectural photographer with 20 years of international experience on small and large scale projects.

He worked at French Studio AREP on major Chinese projects and joined Cui Kai Studio (CADG) in Beijing for ten years, where he specialized in cultural and industrial renovation projects.

He now develops his own design practice, and is also one of the main partners of Zhijian Workshop, a multidisciplinary design studio whose work blurs the boundaries between the various disciplines: architecture, design, art, photography, scenography, etc.

This multidisciplinary approach of architecture gives him the opportunity to work on various topics and types of projects, each new project being a singular experience. Recently, his collaborative work with the landscape department of CSCEC led him to work on smaller scale projects with strong relationship with natural surroundings: architectural installation, pavilions, etc.


#Shortlisted #Cina  #Bambù  #Installazione  #Spazio pubblico  #Acciaio inossidabile  #Aurelien Chen  #Rizhao 

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