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The Tale of Dou-gong

How could a specific structural component from a region inform a new architectural practice on a global scale?

Dou-gong is one of the oldest and most recognizable architectural elements in wooden structures in East Asia. Wooden brackets started to develop as early as the second century, and their standardization was fully developed in the 12th century with the publication of an ancient Chinese architecture treatise, Yingzao Fashi. Around the 17th century, the use of Dougong started to become more decorative as larger timbers were made for construction.

Instead of fetishizing Dou-going as a cultural relic, this project investigates its potential in generating a unique architectural typology based on its flexibility as a component and structural principles as a system. The latest iteration utilizes a reverse inclined-arm-leverage system to balance the interior weight with the heavy arms on the exterior, opening up new possibilities for formal expressions. The interior weight transfers to the primary brackets through secondary brackets, making the periphery the primary system for gravity as well as lateral forces. The reasons for choosing a skyscraper as an applicable typology are two folded: exploring Dou-gong’s primary function as a lateral system; problematizing capitalist efficiency evident in conventional skyscrapers.