Niangou Boat Terminal, Tibet
This essay discusses the relationship between architecture and landscape in Niang’ou Boat Terminal in Tibet, a project designed by ZAO/standardarchitecture + Embaixada. Through an analysis of building concept, circulation, as well as construction materials, the essay explores the contemporaneity and spirituality of architecture in a strong regional background.
Located in Linzhi county, Tibet, where Niyang River and Yaluzangbu River merge, the Niang'ou Terminal sits above a gently sloped bay, with old willows bowing over sand deltas. The bay then gradually turns into a steeper hill. Behind, layers of soft, nameless mountains.
The project originates from a reading of the primal landscape: in Tibet, architecture cannot be separated from landscape. The two are equivalent. In our design we embed the building into the landscape, neither as an attachment or a detachment. Hence we arrive at this zigzagging path, which linearly integrates all complex functions. Rising from the highway, the ramp organizes parking, staff dormitories, offices, conference rooms and theater, forming a wide platform at 3000m altitude, guiding one's eyes back at the magnificent union of rivers. From the highway down to 2971 altitude, one finds a ticket office, bathrooms, waiting room, canteen and kitchen leading to a dock near the water. The ramp defines the relationship between various spaces, creating a chain of platforms and places. Each and every space firmly lodges into the landscape, subtly mediating the human body with nature.
The twist and turns not only emphasizes the mountain ridges, but also calls for the spirituality of the journey. In the same way that the turn-and-descend of an Indian step well complicates one's expectation of his destination, Niang'ou Terminal also stretches the course. When approaching the river bank, one cannot help but imagining and envisioning, until his release at the final moment.
Every twist forms a platform, serving not only as transition between circulations, but also a pause for contemplation and a frame for lookouts. The boundaries of platforms clearly defines a view frame, in which the barren hills and disheveled bushes take on a hint of humanity. We have discussing a problem of phenomenology here: a primal and redundant landscape becomes sacred, when gazed and pondered upon by the human eyes. Architecture provides an angle for pondering, as well as a direction for gazing.
Like other projects in Tibet by ZAO/standardarchitecture, the regional character is not manifested through specific symbolisms, but through the unique relationship with mountains and rivers as well as the creative interpretation of local lumber. The main body of the terminal consists of a concrete frame, filled in by local masonry, stones gathered from near the site and patterned by local builders in their own technique. The railing is built from fire wood collected nearby, narrating, after exposure to weathers, a quiet and humble contemporaneity.
Client: Tibet Tourism Holdings
Architects: standardarchitecture + Embaixada
Design Team：Zhang Ke, Hou Zhenghua, Zhang Hong, Chen Ling, Claudia Taborda，Embaixada(Cristina Mendonca, Augusto Marcelino), Sun Qingfeng, Dai Haifei, Gai Xudong
LDI: Tibet Youdao Architectural Design Institute + China Academy of Building Research Architectural Design Institute