Steven Shihao Huang

MArch I

Embedding Transience in Permanence: The School Pandemically Reconsidered 

Advised by Preston Scott Cohen

The greatest catastrophic threat cities face today is not nuclear weapons but viruses. The intention of the project is to rethink the way cities can be prepared for future pandemic crisis in terms of architecture. 

Fusing the similar spatial organizations of a school and a pandemic hospital, the project proposes a new type that functions as both, asynchronously. The new type is capable of adapting to the needs of a health crisis by temporarily shutting down the education program and facilitating remote learning to make space for a pandemic hospital. The thesis combines the permanent but flexible idea of type with the transient idea of rapid expansion/contraction to adapt to the sudden but temporary need for an enormously increased amount of hospital space in the city. Through systems of circulation and modularity, the built form is able to convert, expand, and contract according to the requirements of its alternating programs. New spatial opportunities for both the school and the hospital are also created by the integrated systems that ease the transition. 

The sites of the hypothesis are located in Beijing, the densely populated political center of China. By embedding the emergency health-care infrastructure within the city rather than relegating it to peripheral locations, the proposal aims to have a significant impact on the city, both socially and morphologically.

Corner of building

Animation of architectural model changing shape.
Type evolution: from Pandemic Hospital to School.

Animation of an architectural model showing buildings being added into a densely built urban landscape.
Rapid transformation from School Mode to Pandemic Hospital Mode in urban context.

Animation of an architectural model showing the construction process of high-rise buildings.
Rapid transformation in building context to deal with various levels of pandemic severity.

Two scenes of a circular courtyard. The first shows a crowd gathered without pandemic-related precautions, the second shows people wearing Personal Protective Equipment outside of enclosed “mask-free bubbles”.
Perspective views of the central courtyard in School Mode (above) and Pandemic Mode (below).

Aerial view rendering of a circular building with six rectangular wings connected to it.
Circulation diagram in Pandemic Mode with red for patients, blue for medical personnel, and purple for healthy visiting relatives.