Site: Huai Rou, Beijing China
Size: 4041 sqm
Status: Concept
Time: 2017
Team: Di Shaohua, Ni Shiyuan, Liu Xing, Feng Jiancheng

The site is an obsolete cement factory next to the Great Wall in the outskirts of Beijing. The factory was built in 1994 under a booming real-estate development across the country. Now after 20 years, the government zoning regulation has changed the factory land use from industrial into civil/mixed-use to show its determination to treat worsened pollution in Beijing area in the past decade. Our client envisioned a ecological park of science and technology to grow out from this juxtaposition of the ancient relic and industrial structures. A design competition was held to seek innovative re-use of the existing industrial structures which would function as civil and commercial facilities to be complementary to the live/work technology park. For any particular existing structure, both program and means of renovation were to be proposed.

The design intention emerged along with site experience. The Great Wall relics setting in nature is thousands of years older than the cement bunker, yet both are evidence of human endeavor to battle with nature and reside on the Earth. Awed by the sheer aura of the site, one can’t help but thinking that to preserve the past makes us human understand better both the past and present, and enable us to live into a better future. Therefore to conscientiously preserve, to the best extent, the existing industrial structure’s time value, historical value and artistic value becomes the prerequisites to the renovation. The design started from a thorough survey and evaluation of the existing structure.

The Cement bunker is comprised of six cylinder tanks each at 12m in diameter originally used to store cement flour before processing to sack packer. A boutique theme hotel becomes the synthesized proposal to the cement bunker in which each guest room occupies an entire round space in a tank instead of having the circular space divided into smaller guest rooms. As a result, the structure is well preserved, and the original round space is complete and can actually be seen by the guest living in the hotel room. There is a central void cut out in each circular room to be surrounded by glass with changeable transparency in order to give the guest room a more intimate scale, function as main lighting source and to transmit the theme of the hotel. Guest rooms are located on the third, fourth and fifth level. Guests walk through the lobby and use the elevator inserted in the central void between the four cylinders to arrive at the rooms.

Hotel lobby on the ground floor is also fitted into the four circular spaces instead of making a big space by demolishing huge amount of concrete walls. Above the hotel lobby is a multiple-function hall. The original funnel structure were transformed and to be experienced inside the hall through covering it with a glass floor. Four floating circular halls share the same form but can be used for different functions. The penthouse accommodates academic discussion, meeting, launching event, and other social activities. The entry platforms to the rooms and vertical circulation are added and self-supported in lightweight steel structure. The two cylinders on the east side was kept entirely as sculpture without inner function to avoid excessive changes to the original form and structure. These two cylinders however, can be vertical-planted on the outer wall and rooftop.

The light in the building is limited due to the existing structure, which is attentively preserved as a distinctive character and transformed into representation of the hotel theme. The spatial theme of the hotel is one related to the sky and the universe. We lost the sight of the starry night because of fickle ambiance around the world and the polluted environment. We wish to re-acquire the consciousness of protecting the environment, because we are a part of nature. We seek inner peace and the balance between outside world and our inside world in a dark space. We put ourselves into unlimited space to reflect ourselves, wishing to be back to nature and to understand the meaning of life.

The window openings on the tank wall was made round, small and in different sizes to keep the structure intact and to recall stars. Art installations representing stars in the solar system are proposed to occupy the circular void in the middle of each guest room. An astronomical telescope is placed on the roof top and connected to the penthouse by a spiral stair.