THE NOVEL OF AN ISLAND
SKETCH SKETCHES ON SEDIMENTATION
The Zhoushan archipelago is in itself a geographic symbolization of our world, and even a cosmological evocation.
Each island has its own character, as a planet has its strangeness.
Huang Di Ji and Feng Huang islands are examples of this.
Now abandoned, they call for an imagined future. Therefore, they also incite us to know their history and origins.
When clues, millenarian information, are uncertain, the search for History leads to interpretations, beliefs, often linked to cultures which have been erased, but not entirely forgotten.
So we discover Phoenix Island (Feng Huang Island), the Phoenix which came by day and would sleep straight across there, on the royal flat land. On Putuo Island, the pilgrimage carries on today, to honor the many statues of Buddha. Such ancient myths, and Gods still worshiped.
In order to qualify the island, one needs to pay homage to the most dreamlike interpretations of its past.
In my native region, Périgord, architects form the Historical Monuments Service are rebuilding a medieval castle from just a few shapeless remaining stones.
Often, when the territories to be built are “without history”, architects will invent one. That is narrative architecture.
In order to make Huang Di Ji Island even more attractive and mysterious once built, the architect must write Huang Di Ji and Feng Huang Islands’ novel, as well as that of the surrounding mountains and of the islands belonging to their numerous family.
The island’s poetic aspect arises from traces, memorial itineraries, from a vanished project, traces swallowed by water, lotus trees and a few recent fragments of sheetpiles and concrete iron bars.
We will tie the island’s perspective to its access and links to the East and Chang Shi Island, today an unfinished bridge that we shall re-imagine. This door will become a door-building, crossed with loggia terraces which will reveal the archipelago on one side, and the mountain on the other.
Like many other maps, probably with bases in Buddhist culture, the island translates as a great central vacant space, a large park, around which the buildings are organized.
The landscape is flat, naturalist, and has been excavated to reveal the water in this royal flatland, in relation to the neighboring sea.
In the dialog between Huang Di Ji Island – where the Phoenix would come during the day – and the surrounding mountains, a bastion, a den, emerges on the northeastern corner, as an echo to their prominence.
On the rocky slopes of that peak, a village has been settled, remarkably oriented toward the South, with a full view of the sea and mountains.
Almost contiguous, straight to the South of there, great ponds are lain out, evocations of the terraced rice-fields or fish-ponds seen on neighboring islands and territories.
Housing built along these ponds enjoy marine horizons.
In the end, what this constitutes is an acceleration of sedimentation. One could think that these elements are linked to the history and the myths. One could think that they were built through the previous centuries, that they were later transformed, and that we now interpret their meaning in correspondence to the beliefs and myths.
As we travel around the island, we install porticoes to see the park through it. This contrast between this horizontal disposition and the surrounding buildings, the skyline with the peak and its bastion, the village below and, on the other side a sort of watchtower with cylinders marking the other angle. A third angle of the triangle, composed of a pointed triangle, a stone glacis. All this give the place a distinct character, between the built perimeter and the protected landscape.
One will access all this over a bridge. That bridge is an inhabited bridge, under which the boats pass. Coming from Changshi, the bridge will pass along Huang Di Ji Island all the way to Feng Huang Island.
So there is a link, a vision of this sedimentation, in the placement of the marina, which puts Feng Huang and Huang Di Ji Islands in relation with each other. It creates a new life in common, and the Phoenix’s realm becomes hospitable once more.
This architectural attitude is a consequence of the realization of the passing of time, of times: times passed, times forgotten, present times and their inventions.
It is also an invitation to imagine future situations.
Sparks surge from the meeting of different eras, materials, techniques and know-hows that coexist, creating so far unknown feelings and emotions.
The present is at once the threshold and the door to the future, surprises, and new, more and more hedonistic and optimistic lifestyles.