BSc Design Portfolio

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DAN LIU +447518547454 (UK) +36704064847 (HU) The portfolio contains a selection of my work during the Architectural Studies BSc course (2009-2012) at Welsh School of Architecture, Cardiff University. The major projects are presented in a reversed chronological order with some extracurricular projects in the end.


SHADOW & MEMORY spring semester, Year 3 (diploma project)















autumn semester, Year 3

summer project of 2011

spring semester, Year 2

autumn semester, Year 2


year 2

summer of 2011

shadow & memory Film theatre and archive in Lyon, France Spring semester, Year 3 (Diploma Project)

The project links the ideas of memory, shadow and physical space by exploring relationships between theatre/performance and memory/archive. Giulio Camillo, a sixteenth century thinker and rhetorician, linked memory and theatre in his famous Memory Theatre project, based on the idea that we remember the best when we link our conceptual to our (stronger) spatial memory by relating memories to certain places (architectural mnemonics). This design task also embraces the idea of shadow as a positive figure in architecture inspired the Story of the Maid of Corinth (AD. 79). Butades was a daughter of a potter living in Corinth and as her lover was to leave for a perilous journey, she traced his silhouette onto the wall to keep his memory. Her father then used the drawing to model a clay relief. If the wall represents architectre, then shadow is seen as the origin of both the graphic and plastic arts, all linked to the potential of architecture and art to embody memory... The project asks for a small theatre for Lyon with real archive needs, but the above mentioned ideas are suggestive of the ways in which architectural places can evoke memories. The main auditorium is an indoor performance space for 300 people also suitable for other kinds of performances at different times (but not to the extent of being a neutral warehouse ‘black box’).




Lyon was founded on the Fourviere Hill as a Roman colony in 43 BC. Thanks to its convenient location at the convergence of navigable rivers, it soon became the main city of Gaul.

The site is set in a rich historical context, directly adjacent to Odeum, the smaller one of the two surviving Roman Amphitheatres on the gentle slope of the hill of FourviĂŠre. The Odeum, originally a covered building used for musical performances, public reading as well as meeting place for the notables of the city, has a 3000 seat capacity and was built around 100 A.D. during the reign of Hadrian. Because of the high cultural value of the historical context, Vieux-Lyon (the neighbourhhod) is protected by Plan for Preservation and Enhancement. Therefore the project requires a highly sensitive design approach.


The building is essentiallty a sequence of the public spaces offering jouneys from the street level up to the stage level of the amphitheatre.


Cut at first floor level, the plan reveals all the service spaces hidden below the second floor level: it shows the location of the toilets, storage spaces and the plant rooms for environmental control.

BUILDING ENVELOPE The theatre is covered with opaque and glass roofs

PARALLEL WALLS Structural concrete walls penetrated with openings divide and create spaces

THE “LANDSCAPE” The public floor is basically a man-made landscape consisting of a series of steps

SERVICE SPACES The spaces serving the public levels are located underneath


Cut at ground floor level, the plan reveals the service spaces below the first floor level: the kitchen under the café, the box office, the relationship of the backstage to the dressing rooms and the spaces attached to the Archive.


showing the Auditorium space during the day as a continuous indoor public space connecting the street with the stage level of Odeum


showing the Auditorium space being used during a performance. It becomes a separate space enclosed by two vertically sliding acoustically insulated panels at the front and back that are hidden underground during the day. For theatre performances the vertically moving stage connects the stage to the backstage areas. The adjustable shutters keep out the last rays of the setting sun. The auditorium is mechanically heated/cooled/ventilated from beneath the seating area.





The new building becomes an integral part of the ancient Roman structure: despite being contemporary, it conveys a sense of timelessness, a feeling that “it has always been there�. Therefore in its materiality and geometry it is quiet, subtle and respectful to the existing ruins. The end of the steps is linked to the stage level of the Amphitheatre and the roof of the Theatre (not visible on the picture left handside) becomes a viewing platform, that extends from the stage.


The thick and heavy concrete walls are punctuated with openings allowing views from one space to another: note the feet of the lady going up the steps are visible through a horizontal gap in the left wall. The wide steps of the foyer has been divided up by scattered ‘boxes’ creating an informal seating zone in the middle, leaving the two sides for circulation.


The continuity of the spaces in the Theatre is an advantage at its natural ventilation: In the morning the rising hot air from the lower regions (City of Lyon) passes through the building. During the night the descending cold air from the hills provide passive ventilation.


All the walls perpendicular to the parallel concrete walls are transparent which creates a contrast between rough heavyness and delicate transparency. Note the view of the Amphitheatre through the sky-window.


The exposed concrete wall and a more delicate limestone floor are separated by a narrow gap at their junction, into which lighting is installed. The holes in the walls can also be used for seating or displaying artworks. This makes the walls an element of the archive and gives a new layer of meaning in terms of keeping memories by creating shadows.


Wooden handrail is set into a smooth void carved into the rough concrete wall.


A lift in the cafe is available for the disabled people to access the auditorium on first floor

RAINWATER RECYCLING ROOF LEVEL rainwater is gathered by glass roofs with 2 degree slope PUBLIC LEVEL the steel drainage pipe is completely hidden in the concrete wall on the public level



SERVICE LEVEL the pipe becomes accessible for maintenance purposes in the plant rooms where the greywater is being filtered and pumped back up for flushing toilets


The travel distances meet the requirements of the British Building Regulations 2010 Approved Documents Part B1.

URBAN polemic MASTERPLANNING IN south wales Autumn semester, Year 3

The project is set in Port Talbot, a small industrial town in South Wales. It became siginificant after the opening of the docks in the 18th century, giving the town a potential for extensive ironworks. In 1952 the completion of the Abbey Works made Port Talbot the home of one of Europe’s largest steelworks and the largest employer in Wales. This was followed by the establishment of a chemical plant at Baglan Bay by British Petrol in 1960s. In 1970 a new deep-water harbor was opened by Queen Elizabeth. Abbey Works is currently owned by India’s Tata Steel and operated from their headquarter in Mumbai, India. The site is located on a brown-field area between the residential and industrial area of Port Talbot. The area of the intervention is about 55 000 sq. meters and at least the third of the plot has to be covered with buildings with one third of it being housing. The essence of the exercise focuses on post industrial interventions and the exploration of the idea of creating links, both locally and globally. The task expects a polemic vision in terms of spatial organization with particular emphasis on formal, social, cultural and environmental issues, a place that will support the future of Port Talbot. A potential danger of flooding due to the rising ocean levels is also incorporated in the site.


The proposal has to demonstrate transitions from big to small, from low density to high density. The whole place becomes a “science city�, a place where young researchers with family (or singles) live in close environment within their research place.

CONCEPTUAL VISION I based the generating concept of the masterplaning on the idea of vertical city and the invisible grid of the city (left). By clearly separating the service and the served spaces, with centralisation of the networks of infrastructure, the buildings become a “pulsating machinery”, leaving the space left in-between untouched. The concept of vertical zoning enables an integration of urban and rural qualities. In order to create a coherent architectural strategy, a simple pattern is created to set a rhythmical composition, which later can be altered to highlight hierarchies in terms of density and to accommodate specific functions.

Further brownfields

The site also represents the idea of ‘seed’ which carries the notion of future expansion: high-rise and high density living/working might be generated by future necessity, such as land prices, the popularity of the research facility and other economic/political factors. There is also a possibility for horizontal expansion, since the new joining facilities can occupy the nearby brownfields and increase the number of research centres. The scheme shows a sharp contrast in architectural language and scale between the floating megastructures and the housing units on the ground level. The monstrous towers resembling giant machines taken from industrial sites are meant to recall past mechanistic fantasies. The towers based on a harsh but simple cartesian grid have varying heights according to the specific site conditions. While on the ground level the follies and pavilions are like objects scattered around, that speak of freedom and rural lifestyle.


MASTERPLAN The oval shaped area is the main territory for design. The land-arm reaching into the harbour is also part of the proposal in terms of landscaping: it serves as a recreational ground for the complex.

GROUND LEVEL PLAN As the high-density blocks are elevated from the ground, the liberated ground level is left as an open public space. The layout of the landscaping also emphasises the concept of independence from the structures above.



Housing typology (above): the traditional design of streets has been turned insideout to create a new typology focusing more on the spaces in between the houses. During the design process we were encouraged to make use of relevant precedents. I was looking at the ideas of Yona Friedman and the Metabolist, especially Kenzo Tange.



The first project of the 3rd Year was to design a structure erected to commemorate persons or event, a monument with political implications. The term political is deliberately left to be defined in an entirely free and personal way, meaning that any topic relevant to the contemporary society could ultimately be regarded “political�. The proposal has to be set within an existing and appropriate site. The monument is located in my hometown, Budapest, capital of Hungary and it is dedicated to the firemen, ambulance and the policeme. The idea came from a demonstration I witnessed during that summer in front of the House of Parliament where hundreds of civil servants protested against the government lowering their wages. The monument, however, does not intend to express political opinions concerning the current government but to raise people’s awaireness of the importance of the public servants who provide the very essetial security of our society.

THE CONCEPT In the monument the idea of understanding through discovery is explored: the structure is an open underground space hidden from pedestrians, which carries the symbolic meaning of being forgotten and ignored. The claustrophobically narrow routes leading to the bottom of the monument are a metaphore for panic and anxiety which are inevitable for the full understanding of the significance of the civil servants. As the visitors descend into the monument they become gradually detached from the surrounding world and rather turn inward, focusing on memories and emotions. Only at the end of the journey, carved onto a simple stone column, the message of the monument is revealed.

The monument is located in a park north to the House of Parliament, built in white limestone.

figure ground

regenerating pontypridd: public library Spring semester, Year 2

The name of the project refers to two key design tasks: figure of a small public building and the ground of the related public space. The two elements work together to address aspects of regeneration - social, environmental and economic - in Pontypridd, a small declining town in mid-South Wales. Apart from delivering the design of a new public town library, the proposal has to contain an external public space, clearly linked to the idea for an urban regeneration strategy. Therefore the overall scheme has to contribute to the public realm by offering benefits to the surrounding area and community. For the library design, the new building should target groups who would not traditionally visit libraries, by redefining the concept of ‘library’ as a meeting point for cultural and community life. The site given is located on High Street, right on the junction of River Taff and River Rhondda. I regarded the site as a missing link in the existing urban fabric, so my intervention goes far beyond the edge of the site by proposing linked routes and walkways along Taff. Creating connection both on physical and emotional level becomes the basic concept for my design.


On ground level the library consists of several pavilions which are linked together on the first floor. The volume left between the pavilions becomes freely accessible urban spaces. On the first floor, which is a continuous library level, the visitor can have great views to the river and the hills. This way the building of the library surrounds and ‘embraces’ the open public spaces in-between. Anyone can walk through these squares without entering the library building itself. The close relationship of the public library to these urban spaces makes them ideal for meeting places, that would play a vibrant and active role in community life that welcomes every generation. The fact that a public library becomes a popular venue for the young generation would contribute to the physical and cultural revitalization of town centre.




Testing of light conditions was a prominent aspect of the project, for which both physical and digital tools were used. Picture left-handside shows the 1:20 lighting model tested in sunlight. The renderings above are created with Autodesk 3D Studio Max, with which numerical data can be obtained of the daylight levels.

urban sustainability housing complex in grangetown, cardiff Autumn semester, Year 2

The project involves the outline and detailed design of a sustainable housing project with 12-15 dwellings, including live/work dwellings, provision for retail units, and a community space. The problem faced is the phenomenon of urban spraw and splitting: Grangetown is a suburbian district of Cardiff facing urban fragmentation. Therefore a new vision of dwelling type is required in order to transform the dispersed town by giving it a new set of values. During the design process we have to consider privacy, as individual autonomy is increasing, as are the diversity of social interactions within the same family, professional mobility, and the speed of communications. Therefore the proposal has to deal with increased demand for both sustainability and mobility in a creative and imaginative way. The site is located at the edge of Grangetown, beside Taff River, relatively close to central Cardiff, with major access to transportation maximum 15 minutes away. The main feature of the masterplan is the gentle slope crossing the whole site, a public space which connects the heart of the masterplan to the bank of Taff through a wide tunnel underneath the road.


The design process consisted of two parts: the first task was to create a masterplan scheme in groups of 4, after that an individual dwelling has to be chosen and worked out in details.




Like a giant monolith smashed into pieces, the arrangement of the four building blocks suggest the idea of belonging together, but separated in order to provide an internal space and access. The new housing scheme breaks the monotonous urban fabric of Grangetown by introducing a different and unpredicted pattern, yet without making it chaotic. (This idea is represented in the form of conceptual poster on the previous page.)

The height of the four blocks were designed so that the central courtyard gets as much sunlight as possible. The central public ground feels sheltered from the outer world yet it is easily accessible by the public.

The flat designed individually is located at the southern end of the northwestern block. Inside the dwelling I was exploring the aspect of flexibility by creating a live/work double space (opposite page). The multifunctional space contains a mezzanine level that can be extended so that an extra bedroom can be created.

FIRST YEAR WORK assemblage project & school design ASSEMBLAGE autumn semester The very first design project of the course is about understanding basic architectural ideas such as thresholds that offer the transition between the public domains and private realms. The brief is to make a 1:50 model of a three storey building that contains a retail unit on ground and first floor and a dwelling on the top floor. Everyone is assigned a certain plot on an imaginary street, so the project requires an understanding of neighbour relationship on top of designing the individual unit. The model is made of cardboard and wooden sticks which needs to show the basic tectonic and structural considerations. We were encouraged to use hand-drawings to represent and model-making to explore architectural ideas.

SCHOOL DESIGN spring semester The task is to design an infant school for 5 to 7 year olds. The architectural spaces are to be composed in terms of specific situations for which they provide a backdrop. As an emotional basis, we were encouraged to reach back to our own recollections of our childhood. The site is in Cardiff Bay, with residential area in north and exposure to the sea in south.

A great emphasis was placed on the design of the outdoor spaces which have various sizes and characters. Also, each public, individual and shared space has their “personalities� expressed in different degrees of exposure, scale and access to sunlight.

Classroom interior

sawsa activities

my involvement in the student association of welsh school of architecture SAWSA is the student run society for Welsh School of Architecture. It helps to integrate the various years together and provides support throughout the school. It is not only about social culture and events, but also educational lectures by practicing architects, life drawing classes, staff-student meetings, and an annual ball. In essence, SAWSA acts as an intermediate for its students and the field of architecture both inside and outside of the university. The poster below is my entry to an competition organized by SAWSA. The judges were Adam Zombory-Moldovan and Andrew Phillips from David Chipperfield Architects. The brief is to propose an architectural intervention inside the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff that would make the building more attractive to the visitors. My idea, basically a planetarium in the Main Hall, achieved 2nd place. The position of organizers of SAWSA is always held by the current second year students. At the end of first year I was elected as International Officer and one of my tasks was the organization of the Chinese New Year meal, which is one of the fundamental activities of the Society.

shelter competition house in the wilderness

13TH SHELTER INTERNATIONAL ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN COMPETITION FOR STUDENTS 2011 In the summer of 2011 I decided to enter an international competition organized by the Japanese Shelter Co. Inc. My design process was assisted by a Hungarian architect (Bence Turanyi). Even though the competition did not turn out successfully, I managed to gain valuable experiences.

THE BRIEF: “In ancient times we lived with the Wilderness, fighting against its severity and its roughness, and receiving the benefits of its fertility. The wildness of nature was directly related to our lives. In our current age, we live in cities. A city is a large, man-made environment, in which we no longer think much about the power of nature, except when we are shocked by occasional natural disasters, such as storms, floods, droughts and earthquakes. However, we still instinctively recall the lives of our ancestors, and have complex feelings of fear and yearning for life in the Wilderness. Design “A house to live in the Wilderness”, for modern city dwellers - which are us. The Wilderness can be of any type: deep forest, thick forest, a vast meadow in the African savannah, the South Pole, a desert, or in the sea. Or, you can design a shelter against natural disasters such as storms, earthquakes or heavy snow. The structure of the house can be timber, masonry, rammed earth, or ? if necessary - it can be made with the super-alloys that are used for spaceships. Suggest a house in the Wilderness, in which we modern-age humans can feel both the richness and the toughness of the Wilderness, and sense our relationship to it.” Ryue Nishizawa, Chair of Jury


Welsh School of Architecture 2012, Cardiff