The archipelago of Zhoushan in China is the site of an experimental urban rehabilitation project, led by the Chinese architect Wang Shu. Zhou Shan is the Chinese capital of fishing, as it is situated at the entrance of the delta of the Yang Tsé, and has a population of around one million. The aim of this project is to transform the industrial harbour area, Putuo, into a touristic and cultural district. The harbour will remain operational and the architecture will maintain a dialogue between modernity and the area’s history and heritage. The site is on an island about 300 metres from the mainland. The chosen plot of land contains a dense assortment of buildings, docks and warehouses, built over several decades. The landscape of the site is very diverse; to the south lies steep mountainous hillside, while the northern part of the site is characterised by rivers running through it. The mountain, the sea, the city and the hundreds of boats form a striking image of the site within its surroundings. At nighttime the skyline of the city is illuminated and the mountain glows above the water of the fishery.
Francis Kéré has designed an exhibition gallery, an information centre, artists’ studios and a “cultural creativity garden” for the area. The scheme is designed around a platform, a powerful plane that reaches across the site and anchors itself in the mountain. This will serve as a space of transition between the manmade environment of the developed district and the natural environment beyond. The platform also turns the open road into a tunnel and therefore creates more space for new constructions. The building below the platform used to be an ice factory.
Kéré Architecture will make use of the existing water reservoir on top of this building by transforming it into a garden with plants growing around the water. Visitors to the three Chinese tea houses within the garden will benefit from the pleasant air quality and beautiful views of the mountain and the site.
Two new buildings on top of the platform provide the space required for the exhibition area and the art gallery. The first building is situated at the end of the platform close to the mountain, establishing an interaction between architecture and nature. The second one, identical in shape and size, stands perpendicular to the first. The exhibition space can either operate independently or in conjunction with the artists’ studios. Together with the three boxes of the Tea House this ensemble defines an open yard on the platform. Additionally the roof section of the old factory has been cut into halves, allowing a walk through it. Daylight can travel as far as the ground floor. Inside and outside are linked visually, as the series of individual buildings opens up a variety of views, inviting visitors to walk through and to discover the diversity of the works in the Creativity Garden. A generous open air flight of stairs guides visitors to the top of the platform; it presents a pleasant opportunity to sit and rest in summertime.
The materials used and the ventilation system are simple and low-tech. Concrete is used as a basic construction material due to its resistance to humidity. The structural cores of the factory will be removed and restored.
The best possible level of transparency is achieved by means of floor-to-ceiling glass elements. Sunlight gets into the rooms and there are unlimited views over the entire site. The southern and eastern facades are particularly exposed to the sun in summertime. Bamboo poles serve as exterior shades (protection layer) characterised by their natural irregular structure. The northern and western facades facing the mountains and harbour will remain free of extra layers. Wood panels alternate with glass elements, thus the needs for both transparency and protection are met. To prevent overheating in summertime, air is allowed to move through the interstitial space between the facade layers. The open arrangement of the buildings supports this method of ventilation.
STATUS: In Planning
SITE: Zhoushan / China
SIZE: 3500 m²
CLIENT: Locus Project / Zhoushan East Coast Investment Property Co. LTD