Xuanyi Nie

The Enclosed Exteriority

The project applies the logic of thermodynamics while reconciling between atrium space and form of the envelope. As it is situated in Montreal, which is known as a cold city, the three programs—thermal bath, gym, and hotel—were enclosed inside the building in a hot-to-cold order, meaning thermal bath on the bottom, gym in the middle, and hotel on the top. Thermodynamic buoyancy of air will facilitate the airflow inside the building. At the same time, the programs wrap around the central void, not only forming an atrium that allows visual connection of users within, but also facilitates the vertical airflow and allows direct solar penetration. The volume is directed to the dominant solar angle, thus light is able to penetrate through the building directly to activate the street front, in contrast to the shadowed dark space in front of a conventional high-rise. Furthermore, since the site is in between two highly active streets, human flow is maintained in the way that a landscape is situated on the ground floor, connecting the two streets through the public lobby of the building. This figure-ground condition ensures the connectivity on the lateral axis, while the atrium allows the spatial continuity on the vertical axis. With them, the exterior of the building is gently invited to the inside of the building, forming the scenario of an enclosed exteriority.

About The Designer

Xuanyi Nie is currently pursuing his M.Arch at the Harvard GSD. He is interested in experimenting with formal logics when addressing architectural problems and to systematically bring them back to the pragmatics of buildings. He has also worked at various places, including KPF, New York City Department of City Planning, SO-IL, and Kengo Kuma.