A landscape design studio with a background in art installation, Ballistic Architecture Machine (BAM), wins coveted first prize in Shanghai Urban Space Art Season 2019. The international jury led by Mr. Fram Kitagawa, the art director of Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale and Setouchi Triennale, selects BAM's art installation proposal for 'Ecological Hills' site.

According to BAM principal Dan Gass: 'It was interesting for our studio because we just took the whole office to Naoshima, Teshima, and the Echigo-Tsumari Art Field for our 2019 office field trip. Having the leader of the jury Mr. Kitagawa was inspiring for our team to produce bold ideas. We decided to do the classic BAM art project attack where every designer kicks off their own ideas and the director reviews them to completion.'

BAM implemented the studio review approach to the competition and each designer was on their own to tackle the competition however they saw fit. The group would do pinup reviews during the week of work with studio leaders and share input to help one another's ideas. The resulting mix of ideas, in typical BAM fashion, covers a wide range of topics an visual exploration.


Alt text Among BAM's six bold schemes for the five competition sites a design developed by freshman BAMMER Li Kewen won the first prize for the 'Ecological Hills' site. BAM's design took inspiration from the site itself, which was developed by a tabacco magnate. Li Kewen began the design by looking at something people usually try to look past, cigarette butts on the sidewalk.

Alt text The idea developed by the team was to try to develop a garden out of these pieces of waste, to focus on the cigarette butt itself as the seed of the garden. After researching the chemical makeup of cigarette ends, and the tobacco growing processes, the team came up with the eventual idea of a kind of garden with a central receptacle that catches butts.

Alt text The Carbonized Earth Garden expands from a center of pure carbon and gradually becomes pure tobacco mulch as it extends to the perimeter. The garden itself is not planted in the beginning, but relies on the seeds of the outside landscape grasses and plants to colonize the carbonized earth gradient over time.

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Congratulations to the winners of the remaining four sites!

OTHER NOTABLE BAM PROJECT IDEAS: Alt text Alt text “Le Penseur” utilizes graphic sculptural elements on the Ecological Hills site, again referring to the owner tobacco magnate history of the site. As designer Ji Xiaodan writes:

We attempt to interpret the behaviour “smoking” as a daily action in a more neutral perspective. “Tobacco” is a controversial object itself and is contradicting to the natural ecological environment. We must not encourage the habit of smoking, but we cannot deny that we always have someone around us that smokes regardless of their gender, occupation, age. Some people socialise through smoking, some think through smoking, some smoke to destress; on the other hand, some people are sick through smoking, some lost their lives from secondhanded smoke, some littered cause environmental pollution, some throw cigarette butts and cause fire. We do not attempt to take any position but we just want to present the historical memories of the site and this daily phemomenons in a artistic way. We do not avoid, we do not give lectures and we do not encourage.

Alt text Alt text Alt text The Shanghai Babes scheme is a conceptual approach to reinvigorating the waterplant site with immersive bold geometric patterns painted over the existing forms of the intake and overflow pipes. The famous beauties of 20's Shanghai become larger than life occupants of the area, with the leading lady perched atop the industrial fountain of the waterplant overflow valve. As designer Simone Shing states:

During the early 20th century, Shanghai developed the momentum to become China's commercial center. Lots of service industris have developed under a mix of foreign cultures and it led a strong development of the Shanghai modern advertising industry. The majority of these advertisements have a feminine image to make a better sales of the products. These ladies were then slowly becoming a promotion of a certain aesthetic, a ideal modern Shanghai woman type. For us, they represents an important era of Shanghai history and is an icon of the past and we want to bring it back through our work.

Alt text Alt text Alt text Alt text Alt text The Soap Factory Bathhouse idea is a proposal to revitalize the dock area afilliated with the famous Shanghai Soap Factory as a public bathhouse. The design utilizes the geometry and color inspired by the soap boxes and products from the 70's and 80's produced by the soap factory. The bathhouse includes a communal entrance pavillion, changing rooms, and male and female bathrooms that overlook the Huangpu River. As designer Ji Xiaodan writes:

The Shanghai Soap Factory is a epitome of the realisation in hygienical awareness of modern Chinese people. Every Chinese are very familiar with the products the factory made. It is not only a realisation but also led to a fashionable lifestyle. People gradually moved away from public baths to their own private shower room, bathrooms, modern Western-style washrooms. Variety of bathing businesses have developed, men and women started to build up their own bathing habits. Since ancient times “Bathing” is a interesting social method, and can be a precious moment for people to meet in a honest manner. Human are filled within a limited body, we hide our fear and worries, but then at the end of the day abandon our secular thoughts, to be delight in beauty of nature.

‘Soap box’’ is the smallest container in the bathroom. With a variety of colors, materials and price choices, it is widely used and essential. We picked a few containers for our site as a vessel to allow people to encounter each other. We divided the site into a few small “Soap box” that combines and coordinate with the 3 existing structure. Then separate the spaces by themes: Make up room, female bathroom, male bathroom, female scent room and male scent room. Each room have items placed that are familiar in the daily bathroom scene in Shanghai. People can clearly experience certain indications for the place but we do not deliberately imply any kind of actions that can be taken in a daily regular bathroom. All rules can be redefined.

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The Carbon Ring is a public space design for the gas plant site. Situated in a newly planted landscape, the ring floats above the landscape and is intersected by the existing landscape pathway. Constructed from charred cedar, the ring supports a line of misting fountains and an array of hidden LED's. By dusk the fountain comes alive with a glowing mist evoking the blue-orange hues of a gas flame. According to designer Zhang Weiwei:

Cleaner and more efficient energy have always been the pursuit of mankind, The establishment of the gas plant brought Shanghai into the electrical age and brought warmth and quality life to all residents. Based on the prototype of the gas plant, this project presents the gas can in another form. It provides appropriate meeting space for visitors through the narrow and long corridor, and presents the meaning of fire and spiritual warmth through the changes of light and shadow and the artistic expression of fog.