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Swan Song - a poem before dying

Rangyuan Yao & Xiantong Wu

The purpose of this project is to build a memorial site for the revolutionary martyr Qu Qiubai. With four square spaces as the leading space, the project carries out a narrative design. With the architectural translation of his final poem《Occasionally》, it expresses the memory and respect for the revolutionary martyrs, through the continuous changes of spatial form and luminous environment.

Qu Qiubai was not only a scholar, but also a revolutionist. Early in his life, he was deeply influenced by the classical literature of China and the Buddhist thought. He joined International Communism in his twenties, and devoted himself to the establishment of a new political party and a new world. He played a significant role before the founding of The People's Republic of China.

Before going to his death unflinchingly, he wrote a quatrain named Occasionally. Firstly, he recorded his dreams of the night before, when he had already known his days were numbered. It was the last dream in his live, which seemed implied his final state of mind.
We use the first two spaces to reflect the last night's dream in the first half of this quatrain. In the first space, the west-facing round window hole means the "setting sun”, while the gabled walls symbolize the disorderly mountains. When people walk between the mother light flickers and darkens, with the ground up and down. After stepping out of the first space, the viewers will enter a corridor and see the sunlight shining through the comb like skylight. Meanwhile, they can also hear the sound of water at a short distance. Then, the path leads the viewers into the next space. Here, the water is sifted with cold day-light, and the interwoven of fallen leaves and cold springs creates an atmosphere of sorrow for the martyr. Scaly waves of light are cast on the steps, providing a place for the vi-ewers to sit and meditate.

Then the viewers will walk into a transition space, which brings them from the dream to the reality via four different scenes. This group of scenes makes the whole environment more solemn and respectful.

Then in the second verse, he summarized his life, especially those revolutionary years. He also showed that his revolutionary aspirations were unswerving.

Through Buddhist thoughts, he expressed his indifferent attitude to other things, including his life. He showed that what he only had was endless enthusiasm for revolutionary struggle, just like Shakyamuni seeking Buddhist poems from Bodhisattva.

In the third space, the complicated changes of politics and affairs are brought into the environment full of confusing light and shadow, by means of columns and holes. And there is a small video room in the space, which shows his life story and the world's evaluation of him. The fourth space consists of a circular mirrored pool and a square space. They correspond to the last line of his poem. Basic forms are chosen to pay tribute to his feelings of transcendence, as well as the revolutionary faith that he sacrificed himself for. On the edge of the mirrored pool are parts of the lyrics the International that he once

translated, which represent the monument of merit and virtue we erected for him. But the words are backwards, and the viewers can only read them via the reflection on the surface of the water. This design is an implicit commemoration, as he has the connotation of Buddhism. In the last space, after the sunlight enters the interior, the rough floor bring-s soft diffuse light to the walls, presenting hazy and gloomy colors, in contrast to the bright sky light.

The text of the poem is firstly translated into a visual form. Then these visualized contents are responded to by sight, hearing, behavior, etc. Based on this, architecture and space are generated. Both the representational and abstract contents get perceptible forms relying-ng on the space of the building and the diffuse light and shadow in the meantime.

In the discussion of "light" throughout the project, we mainly use the interaction between environment and light. After blocking, refracting and diffusing, direct light coexists with water surface, sheet wall and fallen leaves. After the visitors walk through the whole journey, they feel the lament from the illusion of dream to the reality, in order to awaken their memory of Qu Qiubai and many revolutionary martyrs of that era.

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