- PIXELAND by 100architects
The word pixel is a combination of pix (from “pictures”, shortened to “pics”), and el (for “element”), and it is the smallest controllable element of a picture represented on a computer display or in a computer image. Each pixel has its own with variations in colour, intensity etc. a number of pixels combined form any given digital image. The team of designers from Shanghai-based 100architects transferred this idea to their project for a public plaza in the Chinese city of Mianyang, a key centre for the electronics industry located in the northwest of Sichuan Province.
PIXELAND is a project in a 1500-square metre public city plaza in a residential district of Mianyang and specifically aims at creating a multipurpose public space. The project is based on the idea of using the pixel as a strategy for its spatial arrangement. So the team of architects from 100architects - founded by Marcial Jesús and Javier González - decided to mix and match lots of small independent and functional pixels. While each of the pixels has its own function and characteristics and could be read as an independent entity, their combination results in a very eye-catching and playful general multifunctional public space for all ages.
The main pixel core of the project is a perfect 5 x 5-metre square, which acts as a plaza to host events and group functions. Smaller pixels at 2.5 x 2.5 metres and 1.25 x 1.25 metres are introduced outside of this core, providing a modular approach to access, pedestrian circulation and the bordering landscape. Pixels of greenery are also scattered throughout the space to give PIXELAND a sense of privacy and seclusion.
The plaza also features lounge areas, picnic spaces with seats and tables and shading structures, There are seating box structures for shape, sunken communal benches, sloped lawns and a small amphitheatre to encourage meet-ups and hold small, even unplanned events. All of these leisure functions that are designed more for adults are supplemented by a wide range of fun, playful functions for the kids. The culmination of this is a horse-themed playground in the centre of the plaza.
Here 100architects, continuing the theme of digital graphics, has expanded the pixel leitmotif to include voxels (volume pixels), the three-dimensional equivalent of a pixel and the tiniest distinguishable element of a 3D object. It is a volume element that represents a specific grid value, like colour in 3D space. Indeed, the chequered space of the PIXELAND plaza has been constructed in layers, allowing for interesting artificial topography to grow towards the centre and create a sense of space and levels, with the “voxelated” horse strategically positioned at the top of a small rise, making the area more dimensional than a standard digital pixel.
PIXELAND by 100architects is not just the multipurpose decoration of a public plaza intended for the whole community, it is a real point of reference, a visual landmark that breaks up the monotony of the neighbourhood where the colourful carpet brightens up the view from the residential towers over the undistinguished zone, almost like a flying carpet that will zip you off to the mountains visible on the horizon.
Project: 100architects (Shanghai) - https://100architects.com/
Design team: Marcial Jesús, Javier González, Stefanie Schramel, Marta Pinheiro, Lara Broglio, Mónica Páez, Keith Gong.
Location: Mianyang (Sichuan Province, China)
Size: 1,560 m2
Year: January 2019
Photography: Amey Kandalgaonkar