The winning proposal for the international AC-CA Dubai Architecture School Tower Competition is ‘Blue Tape’ by Evan Shieh and Ali Chen, alumni at the University of Southern California (USC), a “vertical re-imagining of the typical architecture school typology”.
The tower transforms a horizontal space into a vertical “conceptual connector” and is inspired by USC’s ‘Blue Tape Reviews’, the method used of pinning up work for design reviews.
Located adjacent to the American University in Dubai, the core concept of the design is that of the pin-up space that organizes and stacks larger programs like studios, classrooms, workshops, events, gallery spaces, an auditorium and library.
“These public programs become conceptual extensions of the Pin-Up spine,” wrote Shieh and Chen, “expressed on the façade of the tower as formal ‘voids,’ serving as a symbolic and public expression of a continuous space of ‘academia.’
The studios, which are a critical programmatic element, “take the language of a formal ‘solid’ in contrast to the Pin-Up ‘void’” and are situated on floorplates which ramp upwards in a continuous spiral. Their omnipresence in the tower is crucial; “as a support space, [the studios] generate the ideas that feed the Pin-Up spine.
“BLUE TAPE also recognizes how vital the professor-student relationship is to the architectural education. By placing the faculty offices and administrative services along the entire north-west elevation of the tower, offices are in direct adjacency to the studios on every level, providing an integrated educational environment.”