Renovation of Wuzhen Beizha Silk Factory

ARTIST: Chen Qiang, Fu Na, Chen Jianru, Jade Zheng
ARTWORK/YEAR: Renovation of Wuzhen Beizha Silk Factory (2012 ongoing)
REGION: East and Southeast Asia
RESEARCHER: Zhang Shangzhi

Wuzhen Beizha silk factory was built in 1970 and became vacant in 1990 after it fell into decay. As the historical mark of spreading industry into countryside, the old factory becomes the memory of Wuzhen culture. As the president of the Cultural Wuzhen Limited., Co and the chief designer of the plan called Wuzhen Renaissance, Chen Xianghong took it as the visual point and transformed the old silk factory into an art museum in order to attract more young people to appreciate the world-class artistic works and experience the culture atmosphere in Wuzhen while they walk through the buildings.

In the project, the renovation plan of the design team complies with the original spatial structure. The team not only fortifies and restores the original building but also renovates the new functional level of its art museum including remodeling the doors and windows for the exhibition arrangement (Because of the technical requirement, the old factory has many windows for natural ventilation. We close and seal some of them, but retain the notches of windows in order to imply the history of this building.), removing the suspended ceiling to ensure the flexibility of the exhibition in the art museum, preserving the original outer walls of this building and wrapping the highest building at the entrance up in the tensile aluminum mesh in order to make the image of tile and water created by the dark grey mesh convey the building’s traditional touches.

All exist trees are reserved and mapped in the reconstruction, specific methods are taken to handle the dialogue between trees and buildings, hence a new status which combines the buildings and the environment emerged. Three different means are adopted to integrate 3 new buildings with the old ones into wholeness.

Apposition: Building A, served as entry and small galleries, is set up along the new road with floating boxes above a pool, which echoed the water town image of Wuzhen. Meanwhile, it is enclosing the outdoor exhibition area with the old workshops.

Insertion: Building B is inserted between two 2-story buildings. The first floor is gift shop and cafe which can serves both the venue and the community. Roof platform with void for trees connects 2nd floors of both sides’ buildings and becomes the recreation and communication space during exhibition.

Connection: The second-floor circulation is established by a bridge which links building C and the old buildings. The transparent hall in the middle connects the east and thImage Credits:e west parts of the building. In the 2nd floor of east part, a spacious indoor exhibition hall with skylights is created by folded large-span roof truss.

Space and place/locality are created as the different concepts by the local cultures. Space can bring experience to people, and locality can help people to experience the sense of belonging through culture and spirit. The renovation item of Wuzhen Beizha silk factory is not only a pure local renewal plan but also a continuation and development of the local cultures embodied in its design. The designers take space as the medium between modern people and historical memory, make the public recall the local cultures by walking through and experiencing different spaces, present it in new art and shape the new development of locality.

The plan is decided by Chen Xianghong who is the president of Cultural Wuzhen Limited., Co, the chairman of the international contemporary art invitation exhibition in Wuzhen and the chief designer of the plan of Wuzhen Renaissance.

All copyright belongs to Shanghai Academy of Fine Arts, Shanghai University.

Progress Agency