Concrete Approximations | Workshop 5


Design-Build Workshop: Concrete

Host: Turenscape Academy (TA)
Technical Support: Turenscape Beijing
Workshop Location: TA Xixinan Campus
Project Site: Xixinan Village, Huangshan City, Anhui, China
Date and Time: 06.23.2017-07.06.2017 (14 days)



Concrete Approximations


This workshop exposes students to the physical act of making in architecture through dynamic structural logics and material testing. The objective is to prototype new kinds of shell structures, using concrete as casting material, and engaging more closely with the material’s unique properties: fluidity, pressure and weight. Learning from seminal precedents of thin shell concrete structures, such as those by Torroja,Candela, Isler, Dieste, Nervi and others, the workshop aims to innovate upon composite formwork techniques which are more responsive to liquid material than cumbersome and labor intensive, timber planking formwork methods.

△ Concrete Ring: concrete prototype exhibited at the Bartlett, UCL, 2008 (Design by Multiply Studio)

In a first stage of the workshop, students will be tooled up with a variety of form finding techniques for shell structure design, ranging from computational processes, structural simulations, geometrical descriptions and analogue formwork devices. Through trial and error experiments, not only the limits of how a material might perform under gravity will be tested, but also how to direct the exact contribution a material may bring to a hierarchical assembly of live forces at play, in order to enhance material performance. In a second stage, the initial research findings will be synthesized towards a collective proposition and construction of a full-scale and site-specific installation. An inventive fabrication process of translating emerging geometries to traditional building techniques, will use local and low-cost materials, such as bamboo, textiles and cable-net as reinforcing and formwork for composite concrete shell structures.

△ Medusa: concrete prototype executed in a precast factory with students’ participation in Dong Guan, China, as summer March elective at HKU, 2012


△ New Orders: Column prototypes exhibited at the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Biennale, 2016 (Design by Double (o) studio)



Workshop Leader


Olivier Ottevaere

Olivier Ottevaere is an architect and educator, based in Hong Kong. He is the principal of Double(o) Studio, an architecture practice with a design focus on structural logics, materiality and construction procedures. Since 2011, he has been a full-time Assistant Professor at the University of Hong Kong. Previously, he has taught at the Architectural Association in London, Singapore University of Design and Technology, Royal Academy in Copenhagen, and EPFL in Switzerland. His projects and research work have been exhibited and published widely and also awarded internationally. He studied architecture at the Cooper Union in New York, followed by a masters at the Bartlett School of Architecture, in London, and is a PhD candidate at RMIT Vietnam.





Past Student Work


△ Pinch & Sweep: Ruled-based timber construction in Yunnan Province, China, 2014-2015 (Design by Olivier Ottevaere and John Lin)
△ Sweep with students: Year 2 HKU student’s participating in the construction assembly of the Sweep, Yunnan Province, 2014
△ Student work: Concrete screen walls by HKU students, 2016
△ Students work: March 1 mid-term review, HKU,2017
△ Teaching: lecture during final reviews at the EPFL, Switzerland, 2016


Target Audience

1. Students studying architecture, urban planning, landscape architecture and design, environment design or similar fields
2. 3D printing and computational design enthusiasts 
3. Individuals interested in experimental structures and physical making

Certification and Recommendation

1. Receive course completion certificate signed by Dr. Kongjian Yu at the end of the course
2. TA will negotiate internship and job recommendation at Turenscape for outstanding students 
3. Discount for other upcoming workshops held in 2017 (Workshop 2-6)


How to Apply

Contact us: 18201521972; 15712966956 (Numbers for both Mobile and WeChat)
Apply: Email with “Name+Workshop Name” in the subject line. Please specify your name, age, gender, major, school or employer, phone number, email address. TA staff will get in touch with you ASAP about workshop details and logistics.


Press and hold QR code on your mobile device to contact TA staff on WeChat。



Work Samples


This is a public library and community center designed jointly by Olivier Ottevaere and John Lin. Its most striking feature is its curved wooden roof on which children can run and play. This project was built in Shuanghe Village, Yunnan as part of governmental rebuilding efforts after the 2012 earthquake, which devastated the surrounding areas. The structure not only serves as a memorial to those who died in the earthquake but also provides a catalyst for the strengthening of the village community.

The library uses a winding overpass that connects to the newly built memorial plaza. Other than a playground for the village children, the roof also provides a lookout for enjoying the beautiful scenery of the valley; it can even be used as a bridge.

In addition to supporting the building structure, the library’s trusses also extend downwards to form floating shelves. They are then stocked with reading materials for the villagers to enjoy. A sturdy bench provides seating for readers, and polycarbonate doors can be opened to allow air circulation and to connect indoor spaces to the plaza outside.

One contributor to the project’s success is the collaboration with a local timber factory, enabling the creation of unique forms using simple materials like contemporary timber. Unlike concrete structures, wooden buildings present a workable solution to architecture in remote areas prone to earthquakes. The project was largely funded by Hong Kong University, who also supervised the project from design to construction.


Start Time

9:30 am

Friday, June 23, 2017

Finish Time

5:30 pm

Thursday, July 6, 2017


Huangshan Turenscape Academy 黄山土人学社

Event Participants