beijing-based architecture studio ΖΑΙ introduces the ‘forum’, a landmark proposal to be situated within san jose, california. observing the lack of engagement between world-famous monuments and local communities, the project aims to reconnect people with iconic spatial elements. influenced by one of the most celebrated public spaces in the western world: the roman forum, the design generates an awe-inspiring stone & stell dynamic structure that encourages social interactivity. 

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park view
all images courtesy of ZAI



‘the eiffel tower, statue of liberty and sydney opera house are all world-class icons but very few local residents ever interact with them on a daily basis’ ZAI shares. ‘a new community-focused icon is needed today, especially as we interact less and less with each other and more with the virtual world’. drawing inspiration from the roman forum, the project emerges as a public, open stage where multiple voices can be heard, meaningful dialogues can be had, and new ideas can be exchanged. 

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‘the forum project will be the first place you go in the morning to do your stair exercises, the place where you buy your lunch and sit with your friends, the place you go for friday happy hour drinks and even the place you propose to the love of your life’ ZAI says. ‘it will be where you discover new art, participate in political activism of your choice and listen to impromptu concerts’. meanwhile, sustainability is a given: the forum encourages walking and the use of stairs, while the interactive steps generate their own electricity and track pedestrians’ movement.

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the forum is designed as a beautiful public landmark, providing a sustainable spatial icon to the following generations. it is a spatial experiment in rebuilding public engagement, a place where community members meet, share ideas and make treasured memories – a place where a vision of a better future can be nurtured.

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the forum 1
birdeye view of the gallery spaces

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the forum 2
cladding detail

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section showing each of the galleries

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the forum 3

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project info:


name: the forum
architects: ZAI
location: san jose, california



designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.


edited by: myrto katsikopoulou | designboom