After explosive growth of urbanization in the past three decades, Chinese cities are facing some new problems, such as excessive existing building stock. The per capita housing area in China has reached 50 square metres, which is on a par with or even beyond that of developed countries. However, high-density and fast-pace urban development has brought about a series of problems, including cities being filled up, the lack of public space, encroachment on nature by over construction, etc.
The two old factory buildings are located at the centre of OCT Harbour, a future large-scale cultural tourism development in Zhongshan City. The position of the two buildings will be a node, and the junction of public spaces and slow traffic system, such as riverside green belt, a bridge across the river, and the harbour. The two old factory buildings closely adjoined a road and a riverbank on either side without setback, which brought pressure on the environment and blocked the sight line between the two river banks. For those reasons, the buildings were once under the threat of demolition.
This unconventional renovation project was executed in such context. In view of the ecologically sensitive riverbank site, we reduced the existing architectural volume, recreated the micro ecological environment on the riverbank and activated riverside public space. Through various design strategies, including demolishing architectural structures to return green land, creating a lattice garden and an open floor, we designed a total of 915 square metres of open space and green environment, which base covers only 74% of the site’s area. Those released spaces, together with the riverbank, form a public destination with ecological and humanistic values.
After renovation, the buildings fully blend into the natural surroundings, inviting visitors to pass, stay and tour around with a friendly gesture.