Using Architecture to Write the "Ordinary"


2022-06-29 13:50:00

The Spanish writer Walter Benjamin once wrote in "Theses on the Philosophy of History": "It is more difficult to commemorate the unknown than the famous, and history is constructed to dedicate to the memory of the unknown." In the selection of the main body of the monumental architecture design, the writing of the anonymous is worthy of our attention. This is not only because the stories of the anonymous are more likely to be forgotten, but also because most of the people who make history are the anonymous as ordinary people.
In Chongming, Shanghai, there is a memorial hall transformed from a water tower, the Mortal Memorial Hall, to pay tribute to every ordinary person who fought bravely in times of crisis. The memorial was designed by Wutopia Lab Architects, founded by architect Yu Ting. This monumental building was originally an abandoned water tower in Dongtanyuan (formerly the 12th Company of Qianshao Farm), a subsidiary of Bright Food (Group). At the beginning of the renovation, the client hoped to transform this tower into a complementary building with the adjacent conference center and hotel. A café or a hotel suite, but with the end of treatment and isolation in the hospital for Yu Ting and his wife, he revisited the project with new thinking about life.

In the 1950s and 1960s, in order to produce more food, a vigorous sand reclamation project arose on Chongming Island. In 1959, with the approval of the Shanghai Municipal Government, a reclamation preparatory committee was established, and a reclamation headquarters was established under it. Reclamation crews need to build 22 kilometers of embankments within 15 days to dam the flow. Among them is a port named Xiaohong, which joins the Yangtze River from east to west, with a total length of 4,000 meters and a width of more than 250 meters at the entrance. The water in winter is very cold, and the dam is about to close. The headquarters has sunk three boats full of stones into the closing mouth, but the water is still turbulent, and the dam is in danger of collapse. In an emergency, a female worker named Lu Jingjuan took the lead in jumping into the opening of the dam and blocked the dam opening with her body. Afterwards, more than a hundred young people were encouraged to jump into the river and stood with Lu Jingjuan in the gap of the dam. At the dam, the water flow finally stabilized, filled with soil, and successfully closed the dam. Lu Jingjuan's body embodies a spirit of sacrificing the ego to achieve the greater ego, and this spirit is still valuable in the current era.

The exterior of the Mortal Memorial

Life is fragile, and people in distress need to struggle to find hope. Yu Ting not only saw heroism in Lu Jingjuan, but also saw Shanghai and Shanghai people of that era. The Mortal Memorial Hall is not only to commemorate Lu Jingjuan's heroic spirit, but also to carry the urban history, culture and memory of Shanghai and its people.
This water tower was originally built to provide safe drinking water for the reclamation workers, and is the central symbol of the reclamation workers' dormitory area. Under the new creative direction, Wutopia Lab regards the water tower as the breaking hole of the embankment, retains the original facade of the water tower, and at the same time designs an independent spiral staircase structure inside, consisting of 100 steps and 84 50 cm diameters. It is composed of metal rods, thus forming a tower-in-a-tower structure to symbolize the heroic deeds of the unsung heroes who blocked the leak with Lu Jingjuan.

The spiral staircase of the Mortal Memorial

The exterior of the Mortal Memorial

Mortal Memorial Stairs Looking Up

At the bottom of the spiral staircase is a map of Shanghai, the year is engraved on each step, 100 steps symbolize a century, and the metal rod is engraved with memorabilia. At the same time, on the wall of the water tower storage tank is painted a mural transferred from the photos of the reclamation scene in that year, expressing a lofty tribute to the hero. Walking up the steps, you can see the history of the reclamation project and the names of ordinary workers who dedicated their youth here. Going up the stairs to the top of the water tower, Wutopia Lab used the design of glass cover and lighting to turn the water tower into a commemorative beacon, looking into the distance, the farm here has become a modern pastoral, the sea, sky and land are intertwined, reflecting the Clear reclamation boundaries. Just like the scene described by the British writer Virginia Woolf in "To the Lighthouse": "When the sun sets, the clear outline disappears, the silence rises and spreads like a mist, the wind stops the trees and the whole world is still. I swayed and lay down and fell asleep." Being here, the Mortal Memorial brings our thoughts back to Shanghai in the 1950s and 1960s. The united, heroic, and fearless Lu Jingjuan infected people from generation to generation. In today's raging world, Shanghai people are still united, brave, fearless, and united, and many "unsung heroes" have emerged at the forefront of the epidemic, which is more of a spiritual inheritance.

Article Source:艺术与设计