Once the most important base of heavy industry in China, the city of Shenyang is now witnessing scattered industrial relics that have become unique symbols of the history of industrialization. In 2010, China VANKE acquired a rundown military factory – formerly known as the People’s Liberation Army No.1102 Factory founded in 1959 during the Great Leap Forward, and initiated a residential complex project.
Along with the decisive re-construction of the surrounding areas, they have kept the water tower, and were looking for ways to possibly make the tower serve some sort of public use that will help the community build-up.
The renovation measurements are being examined carefully with experiment on how to turn the water tower into a multi-use public pavilion.
On one hand, the original water tower was kept intact, only allowing necessary structural reinforcement; on the other hand, the new installation was inserted into the interior of the tower. An exquisite device forms the main part of the installation, which is linked to many camera-lens-like window boxes, growing out of the tower body from every possible opening and filtering daylight into the tower.
On the bottom of the tower, theatre steps are made using recycled bricks to link the entrance and an elevated viewing deck, which becomes a ‘mini-theatre’ providing space for improvised activities for the local public. As an attempt to engage community life through adaptive renovation, the water tower pavilion has received wide spread attention from the public and the residences.
In May 2014, the first mini-exhibition, sponsored by VANKE, was opened inside the pavilion. The ‘Public Folly’ can now house a number of activities, including casual gathering/movie/performance/mini-café, and is inviting more people to engage and rethink the co-existence of history and contemporary reality.