I had no friends with my poor English skills when I came to San Francisco. I felt emotionally isolated. Joining a new community can be a daunting challenge for an international student.
Moving to a new country means adapting to new customs, new way of thinking. One’s identity is lost in some sense to be away from home, family, friends, and constructing a new identity in the new country is necessary.
The deep bonds among friends that come from growing up together or having shared many experiences together over several years is difficult to replicate in a new country within a short amount of time.
At the invitation of my roommate, I tried rock climbing. During climbing, I learned that one needs to help and trust another. Learning how to rock climb can become a bonding experience among a group of people seeking to build relationships more substantial than casual acquaintances.
This building is focused on climbing as a reflection of the acculturation process that international students face when they come to the US. The building is comprised of a climbing center, yoga studio, and education center. These programs help students have a concrete way to get plugged into the community.
Intersecting volumes are carved out to create large voids, which become the climbing area, and also the gray space in the building. The structural system of “sunmao” joints (Chinese for “interlocking”) is exposed throughout the building as a spatial device that connects different spaces and acts as a transition between program areas with visual connection and light transmission through the space.