the story of the tower by WAI architecture

the story of the tower is a conceptual project of beijing based WAI architecture think tank (nathalie frankowski and cruz garcía).

the story of the tower proposes a fictional construction of the intellectual urbanistic apparatus, using narrative architecture—which is a mix of narrative texts and images, as a catalyst of possibilities, challenging realities, and tentative alternatives. the story goes on to narrate how a colossal tower of modern aesthetics is raised in the middle of beijing. in this plot instead of applying the predictable tabula rasa, the tower acts as a shelter in which the urban conditions threatened by modernity become protected.

this narrative architecture is a stratagem of urban tactics—however artificial and far from reality—for the maneuvers and survival of the remaining urban chinesness of beijing. the project is not envisioned as factual architecture, much less as urbanistic propaganda. it is an intellectual tool that reveals  the latent dialectical  coherence that exists between the metropolis – as well as the skyscraper as its definitive typology, modernism with its alchemistic plan of abstraction and repetition, and the traditional substance of the chinese city. 

the aim of this provisional urban fiction is an end in itself: to rethink the pertinence of the architectural imaginaries without restricting them to the boundaries of their inventions; to see the possibilities of alternative ecological urbanisms and the reach of possible intellectual conservation projects. now that the tower has been raised, would we be finally ready to discuss the fiction?

the project will be featured in the group exhibition ‘unplanned: research and experiments at the urban scale’. the exhibition will be held in the superfront LA gallery, in the pacific design center in west hollywood from the 25th of march to the 2nd of july.

WAI architecture: the story of the tower institute of optimistic architectures

in the institute of optimistic architectures, students of architecture, urbanism and spatial politics study, design and build, past, present and future proposals for optimistic social architectures.

WAI architecture: the story of the tower park for soul and body cultivation

the park shelters mass gatherings. a random and almost serene arrangement of tables, nets, columns, and sculptures give the ceramic floors and glass walls a heterogeneous mixture of textures and shapes.

WAI architecture: the story of the tower sky hutongs

the residential program of the tower is the hutong. the traditional chinese urban typology is transplanted inside the tower and repeated – although never in the same way – on several of its levels. the almost improvised brick and mortar construction fits like a gemstone within the reflective materials of the tower.  the urban pattern on the levels of the hutongs is as irregular, unpredictable and poli-thematic as if it were in its original environment, creating a constant flow of randomness and urban surprises.

WAI architecture: the story of the tower ghostmarket

the ghost market – it used to disappear during the day and appear during the night occupies several commercial levels in the tower. on these levels the ceiling lights are always dimmed and the inner corridors are lit by the red hanging lamps and by a flood of neon symbols.

WAI architecture: the story of the tower social condensers

the levels of the social condensers shelter mass gathering programs that absorb temporarily the urban flow of the building, and concentrate it for a variety of purposes. in these spaces, the preserved programs are those that worked as social condensers, like sport amenities, theatrical events, opera, experimental cinema, amongst many others.

WAI architecture: the story of the tower

WAI architecture: the story of the tower plan of tower