Honorable Mention
For Bigger than a Model,
Smaller than a Street
Presented by KAA Design


by Geoffrey von Oeyen Design

Artist Statement

While it is accepted that pavilion architecture in urban spaces may be leveraged by social media to promote a city’s cultural identity and increase its cultural capital, this project contends that architectural pavilions in rural areas of developing countries, and their use in social media, can serve as optical devices that provide marginalized communities more inclusive global representation. The design of such pavilions, and their representation in social media, work together both spatially and culturally to reframe the image of rural landscapes on the periphery of global urbanism.

By reframing a rural landscape through a semi-foreign architectural project, it can be seen anew, and can further reify contemporary understandings of self and community that have been stymied by the inertia of dominant political narratives burdened with racism, sexism, and colonialism. While the global forces of modernism was tempered by critical regionalism in the late twentieth century, the images of regional communities have been disproportionately represented by outsiders with image technology and publication access. With the ubiquity of social media, local visitors are able to occupy and photograph themselves activating these spaces, thus re-projecting the image of their community on their terms.

For the past four years the professor has been studying village development in rural China, has led architectural design research on the relationships between urban, rural, and industrial development through his university and the collaborating university in China, and has presented that work in symposia and exhibitions in Xi’an and Shenzhen. In summer 2017, a team of graduate students from both schools worked in collaboration with local builders and laborers in Lantian, Shaanxi, about an hour outside of Xi’an, to realize in less than two weeks the construction of his design for a permanent public pavilion on county land in the agricultural landscape, sponsored by the regional government and a local winery, In this internationally recognized project, digital design techniques were integrated with rural tectonic traditions, and western building materials were adapted to traditional construction methods to reimagine an architectural vernacular for temporary rural China. Focused on a view across vineyards toward the mountains, and used for relaxation and selfies by village farmers and global tourists alike, the Napavilion serves as an optical device that leverages social media toe frame critical issues of nationality, ethnicity, race, gender, age, poverty, wealth, labor, land ownership, land use, development, agricultural production, ecotourism, sustainability, and the global image of contemporary rural China.


For this published and awarded architectural project, the design of the ruled surfaces of the symmetrical walls, constructed of 97 sectional layers of dimensional lumber of varied profiles, change in angle, density, and pattern to transition from a triangular to trapezoidal elevation. The environmental differences produced through the design allow for varied daylight conditions, visual screening, wind baffling, and degrees of enclosure for standing, sitting, or napping. The stepped roof is covered, yet the level floor joists above the ground remain open to below, allowing cool breezes to flow inside  Supported by concrete columns recalling the slender concrete trellis posts in the adjacent vineyard, the pavilion’s wooden structure appears to float in the landscape. Formally, the pavilion’s scale, orientation, proximity to the hillside, and spectrum of visual transparency both register and heighten an awarenesses of the bucolic site conditions.

The Napavilion has emerged as an internationally visible photographic framing device — be it for the child of a local village farmer or a renowned Pritzker Prize winner — and it has influenced how local represent themselves, their community, their landscape, and their cultural identity. The impact of the pavilion’s capacity for cultural optics now resonates in Xi’an, where a photo of a young woman enjoying the pavilion with friends is currently in use for a regional rebranding campaign. This presentation, including professional photographs, construction process photographs and video stills, and architectural drawings, invites viewers to consider the design and construction of the Napavilion, and to occupy the image within its view.

Construction Documents

Construction Process

Completed construction revealing facade patterning and transparencies across the ruled surfaces

Napavilion framed against the Qinling Mountains to the south

View across vineyard to the northeast at dawn

Napavilion foundation columns echo concrete vineyard posts

Interior Views

Napavilion being utilized

The Artist

Geoffrey von Oeyen is Principal of Geoffrey von Oeyen Design and Principal/Partner of von Oeyen Architects in Los Angeles. He also teaches and coordinates architectural design studios as an Assistant Professor of Practice at the University of Southern California School of Architecture.
In 2014, von Oeyen’s design work was awarded the Architectural League Prize from the Architectural League of New York, which included an exhibition, lecture, interviews, and a book by Princeton Architectural Press. He was also awarded a fellowship residency at The MacDowell Colony, during which he produced writings and drawings connected with his 2014 USC School of Architecture symposium, exhibition, and workshop titled Performative Composites: Sailing Architecture. He is currently responsible for the design of his residential, commercial, and institutional commissions in North America and Asia. Before founding Geoffrey von Oeyen Design and von Oeyen Architects, he was an Associate at Gehry Partners, LLP., where he played key roles in the design of various international projects, including the Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris, France, and the UTS Business School in Sydney, Australia.

The Category

The ‘Bigger than a Model, Smaller than a Street’ Category was open to any type of work ranging from built architecture, theater/set design, interior design, industrial design, etc. The concept behind the category came from the museum’s apprection of design in every day life.

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