XPACE Digital Park recycles a compound of unused old factories in Xiaoshan District, Hangzhou, China, into a new Startup Campus for Tech companies. Our goal was to update the existing buildings supporting a new identity for the site that transforms it in an urban attractor. The property has three large buildings and is surrounded by a very differentiated perimeter, with two heavy traffic roads and one water stream. The design proposal, beyond updating the existing construction facades improving its energetic performance - replacement of all window frames, updating wall insulation levels and roof waterproofing- focused on two strategies.
The first one built a campus from many buildings. The intervention unified color and material treatment through facade transformation, painting, and landscape interventions. A new volume for the entrance was built connecting the two largest buildings and all the navigation put in place reordered the circulations changing the access patterns of the compound. Car circulation in campus was pushed to the perimeter emphasizing pedestrian access.
The second main strategy focused on the construction of a new identity for the place. It was achieved through a wrapping envelope that improved sun protection and privacy level of the openings of the façade while shaping a new identity. The new skin was designed parametrically to construct a choreography that responds to several systems simultaneously. The new facade is built on top of the existing one, integrating both, and it is composed of prefabricated GRC vertical louvers. The distances between them and their curvilinear geometry are based on the negotiation between the position of the existing fenestration, the orientation of the facade, and the exterior points of view from which the building will be perceived. Each louver has a different form and it is placed at a different distance from the next one to optimize the set by reducing the number of louvers while maximizing the visual effects that are produced. The resultant pattern recognizes the different conditions of the perimeter, with an elegant, subtle, smooth curvilinear order that reacts to the highway speed car-based surrounding and adjusts to the tranquility of the water stream. The whole skin builds a curtain-like effect that elevates the urban background. At a close-up scale, the pattern helps the navigation of the campus by a differentiated shadow-based effect that emerges from the interaction of the new GRC skin with the old factory.
The resultant transformation recycles a set of buildings into a new campus relaunching an abandoned site in a place where technology meets architecture.
There are four points that synthesize why this project is unique and innovative.
Architectural ecology: The project embeds an understanding of architecture as an exercise of integration into existing systems. The careful reading of the current site and the projection of future needs merge in a proposal that reactivates unused buildings and revitalize them as a fabric for growth and urbanity. It does so by improving energetic performance, diversity of views and levels of privacy and reacting to differentiated perimeter.
Design Collaborative: The proposal is the result of an international collaboration between a practice based in Hangzhou China and an office based in Barcelona. The work was established as a set of loops of feedback based on a protocol of evaluation and calibration of the design. This strategy helped in a very short time to react rapidly to the changing demands of the program and the fabrication constraints, integrating know how and strengths into a dynamic that expanded the capacities of the individual teams.
Urban Innovation: The project is an effort towards the recycling existing urban fabric. The use of old factories, updating their energetic performance and activating them with a farm for Startup Tech Companies rethinks the role of the existing buildings, becoming a campus that activates a part of the city that was in decay due to the stoppage of industrial activity.
Open System: The proposal innovates designing a system that goes beyond the building where it unfolds. The project becomes a prototype for future interventions where existing buildings require an updated envelope that activates the interior and integrates the exterior unifying the existing fabric projecting a new identity of the whole.
STUDIO QI ARCHITECTS, founded by Shanshan Qi in New York & Hangzhou, is a sole female lead international architectural design firm specializing in innovative design projects. The design studio focuses on the complexity and sensibility of spatial relationships, wherein it applies 2.5 Dimensional Thinking and Systematic Approaches to generate critical studies and designs for the future.
STUDIO QI confronts the current social problems and modes of living, and pushes for a unique and thoughtful reading challenging it for future social definitions and human relationships. STUDIO QI commits to the design field by enhancing dimensional performance, utilizing both professional and cross -professional knowledge. Our works pursue the thoughtful combination of urban texture and innovative use of space.