Central Park is a realisation of Philippe Rahm’s climate-driven approach to design (image courtesy of Philippe Rahm architectes; Mosbach Paysagistes; Ricky Liu & Associates)
by Ann Deslandes
Scheduled for completion by September this year, Philippe Rahm’s Central Park (previously named Jade Eco Park) has been erected on the site of the former airport of Taichung, Taiwan. The park will serve a new residential and commercial district that backs onto the Tunghai University. Spanning 70 hectares, it includes space for leisure, sport, family and tourist activities. There is a 3,000-square-metre visitor centre and a maintenance centre; regulatory approval for a new library and tower in the future is underway, and more than 30 other facilities buildings, including pavilions, cafés, classrooms and toilets.
Central Park is a realisation of Rahm’s creative climate-driven approach to design. The architect’s experiments with ‘thermodynamic urban design’ are well known in the field of Green architecture, and have been rendered in this case through the development of microclimates adapted to human activities requiring cool (Coolia), dry (Drylia) or clean/clear (Clearia) environments. The design is based on computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulation, with each microclimate formed through augmentation of its natural assets.
As such, the park offers what are known as ecosystem services (1). Typically, nature provides services like moderating ambient temperature or cleaning the air. Here, it is being engineered with the help of technology. As Rahm has said elsewhere, “Architecture should no longer build spaces, but rather create temperatures and atmospheres (2).” In the case of Central Park, he has used his technology-mediated understanding of meteorological and physiological phenomena to shape the space. His attention to existing organic, elemental processes in landscapes, in the practice of architecture, is reminiscent of the Japanese experiments in the 1960s and 1970s with metabolic and autodigestive design (3).
Along with Mosbach Paysagistes and Ricky Liu & Associates, Rahm won the international competition for the design of the park in 2011, which continued his well-established interests and practices around thermodynamics and landscape. In 2008, Rahm’s Digestible Gulf Stream was selected and exhibited at that year’s Venice Biennale.
In an accompanying text, he wrote, “The lower plane is heated to 28 degrees Celsius, the upper one is cooled to 12 degrees Celsius. Like a miniature Gulf Stream, their positions create a movement of air using the natural phenomenon of convection, in which rising hot air cools on contact with the upper cool sheet and, [upon] falling, is then reheated on contact with the hot sheet, thus creating a constant thermal flow, akin to an invisible landscape. What interests us here is not the creation of homogeneous, established spaces, but of a plastic, climatic dynamic, the activation of forces and polarities that generate a landscape of heat. In this case, the architecture is literally structured on a current of air, opening up a fluid, airy, atmospheric space. This architecture is based on the construction of meteorology. The inhabitant may move around in this invisible landscape between 12 degrees Celsius and 28 degrees Celsius, temperatures at the two extremities of the concept of comfort, and freely choose a climate according to his or her activity, clothing, dietary, sporting or social wishes (4).”
Taichung City Government
Philippe Rahm architectesPrincipal Architect
(with Mosbach Paysagistes; Ricky Liu & Associates)
Mechanical & Electrical Engineer
Civil & Structural Engineer
Bollinger & Grohmann
Philippe Rahm architectes; Mosbach Paysagistes;
Ricky Liu & Associates