24-09-2019

Shrine of Whatslove by Wutopia Lab in Zhejiang

RoboticPlus.AI, Wutopia Lab,

CreatAR Images,

Qinglongwu, Tonglu, China,

Architecture/Landscape/Urbanism,

How to bring together a reflection on modern-day love with an intervention in a rural zone using a contemporary construction with cutting-edge materials: Wutopia Lab worked with RoboticPlus.AI, a digital construction firm, to design China’s first carbon fibre structure in the rural zone of Zhejiang: the Shrine of Whatslove.



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Shrine of Whatslove by Wutopia Lab in Zhejiang A robotic arm was used to weave carbon fibre filaments onto a temporary steel structure and craft a red triangle. A project that we could call Land Art, which aims at sparking a philosophical discussion on love in the modern era on the one hand, and a more architectural reflection on the other, about what it means to build in the countrywide, where constantly looking to the past, often unjustifiably glorified, prevents real renewal.
The original brief from the clients and owners of the “Fangyukong Guesthouse Project” composed of a hotel, restaurant and bookshop in Tonglu, Zhejiang province was to design something for their first cultural and creative complex. Wutopia Lab went one step further with a building that can also inspire people to think about daily life. There are lots of intellectual themes to focus on, including health, education and work, but love is, of course, one of the hottest topics.
So the architects from Wutopia Lab proposed their own, tangible interpretation of love, which here takes the form of a structure made entirely of carbon fibre, and called it “Shrine of Whatslove”. It is a unique structure, and the very first of its kind in China, crafted by these architects in collaboration with RoboticPlus.AI, a leading digital construction firm that uses robotics in the building industry. Starting from the idea of love as a pure sentiment that is often wrapped up in many layers, influenced by a material-based culture, the architects were looking for a metaphor to get across this message, getting rid of all the underlying layers to return to the essence of the matter. This led them to the decision to use a unique material for the installation: carbon fibre filaments coated in red thermoplastic. A state-of-the-art material informed by Zhusiyingshe, an antique Chinese art where certain idols were wrapped in red thread to create good luck charms. 
The triangular shape of the “Shrine of Whatslove” is also based on an element of the vernacular culture, the architectural prototype of the local huts in rural Zhejiang. Still, this reference wasn’t crafted using the traditional materials of wood, concrete and glass and as a result, something completely new and unexpected has emerged.
The shrine stands 4 metres high and 3.8 metres wide. It was woven using continuous filaments of carbon fibre, with a density of 18 kg per m³, achieving a load capacity of 400 kg. After a month of testing, using 7200 meters of continuous bundles of carbon fibre, the Whatslove Red Sanctuary was completed in 90 hours. A landmark at the entrance of the “Fangyukong Guesthouse Project”, a contemporary design that is essential in order to rejuvenate the countryside, give it new impetus and not just keep it as an open-air museum of a past as romantic as it is imaginary, the classic  “good old days”.

Christiane Bürklein

Design Firm: Wutopia Lab (http://www.wutopialab.com/)
Chief Architect: YU Ting
Project Architect: Liran SUN
Client: Fengyuzhu
Project: The Cultural and Creative Complex of Fangyukong Guesthouse/ Drifting Cloud
Digital Construction: RoboticPlus.AI (Kuan-Ting LAI, Zhe LIANG, PeiYi HUANG, Zixun HUANG, Yuhong HA)
Location: Qinglongwu, Tonglu, China
Area: 6.8 sqm
Material: Carbon fiber
Project Year: 2019.03
Photography: CreatAR Images
Video: Fengyuzhu

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