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MTS 03 - 05 - 2010

Among the many ways an architect can create spaces to experience in a building, some of the most powerful are those in which you experience the space of the building itself. What I mean by this, more specifically, are those spaces in which you experience the structure. Two buildings that did so in particularly poignant manners were the Linked Hybrid Building by Stephen Holl, as well as “The Nest” stadium by Herzog and de Meuron. At the first, the Linked Hybrid Building of Beijing, the structural space was the ‘link’ between buildings, which were simply two trusses suspending the catwalks between the buildings. The main pathway moved between the two trusses, with smaller, secondary overhangs that allowed visitors to walk to the edge for a better view. The blatant exposure emphasizes and explains what it is that is holding you up twenty stories above the ground, rather than hiding it. (Img 002) In a way, this is both comforting and exhilarating: it gives hope that there is something there to keep you safe so high up, while at the same time, it demonstrates just how little it takes to make the space structurally sound (which turned out to be smaller in diameter than my forearm). The second building, “The Nest” accentuates the structure of the building in an unconventional manner, which uses it as both structure and façade. Because of this, the giant columns and beams, which also blend together into one form, the visitor has no choice but to experience the structure. (002) Stairs to the upper decks of the stadium weave between columns, which in turn weave together to form the walls and roof, undoubtedly producing the effect that nicknamed the building “The Nest.” While this approach is much more blatant, because of its added aesthetic purpose, many people overlook its structural function. Rather than making it obvious, as did the Linked Hybrid buildings, “The Nest” conceals the structure’s true use yet still succeeds at emphasizing the experience of being enveloped by a building’s components.S

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