Neri&Hu Design and Research Office - Lao Ding Feng Beijing, the adaptive reuse of an old warehouse building
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Lao Ding Feng Beijing, the adaptive reuse of an old warehouse building

Neri&Hu Design and Research Office

Renovation  /  Completed
Neri&Hu Design and Research Office

The design concept is inspired in part by the client’s main product, traditional Chinese style pastries often formed in a decorative mold — the notion that a container may hold or form the shape of its contents within. Here, a new cast concrete object is molded into the old brick shell, its various openings and negative spaces form the main retail, gallery and office spaces. The gap spaces between the new object and the original shell become flexible areas for a café and multipurpose lobby. The ground floor contains the exhibition area, the flagship store, the garden and the cafe while the second floor is mainly the head office. Double-height spaces and apertures for visual connection, allow one to peer into the public realm from the private and vice versa.

Near the Northeast 5th Ring Road in Beijing, the project site is part of a once thriving industrial area with its own train depot called the Langyuan Station. In the past, it was used for transporting goods in and out of Beijing. Today the neighborhood is undergoing a transitional phase, and Neri&Hu was called upon to design the adaptive reuse of an old warehouse building once used for cotton textile production for the main office and retail concept store for the historical Beijing pastry brand called Lao Ding Feng founded in 1911. Traversing through the new concrete object and experiencing the interstitial spaces between the new insertion and the old building brings a sense of connectivity between past, present, and future and gives this historical Beijing pastry brand a new home.

The original brick structure is composed of a main warehouse and three annex buildings, plus a courtyard garden. For projects like this, Neri&Hu’s strategy always begins with a thorough investigation of what parts of the building at present may be kept and restored, while any new additions should not only respect the existing, but also stand in contrast to it, so that a clear distinction may be drawn between old and new. The basis for adaptive reuse and even some of the seemingly ground-up projects, more often than not, are actually non-romantic relics from the past. These remnants nevertheless pose important questions to architects in terms of sustainability and construction waste management, as well as deeper philosophical questions regarding originality and authorship.

Neri&Hu adapts an old warehouse building for the Beijing pastry brand Lao Ding Feng, founded in 1911. Inspired by traditional Chinese style pastries often formed in a decorative mold, a new cast concrete object is molded into the old brick building shell, its various openings and negative spaces form the main retail, gallery and offices. After pouring the concrete and allowing it to cure, specialized craftsmen then bush-hammer it for a soft textural quality that both contrasts with and also compliments the old bricks. In certain moments, the new inner concrete will seep out and appear on the façade to fill in the voids or indicate new access points. It was imperative from the outset that we keep the integrity of the existing building. The choice of a new cast concrete object as the material for the new addition was intentional in making sure that it stages as a background for the products. To give it texture, the concrete surfaces were bush hammered for a soft textured quality that both contrasts with and also compliments the existing brick structure. Our play of the material palettes also echoes Lao Ding Feng’s history and branding strategy. This traditional pastry brand has been trying to innovate and welcome a bigger group of younger generation with simple but quality pastry, and innovative pastry-making techniques.

Traversing through the new concrete object and experiencing the interstitial spaces between the new insertion and the old building brings a sense of connectivity between past, present, and future and gives this historical Beijing pastry brand a new home.

Credits

 Beijing
 China
 Beijing Lao Ding Feng Food Co., LTD
 Office, retail store, gallery, café
 08/2022
 1580 mq
 Confidential
 Neri&Hu Design and Research Office
 Partners-in-charge: Lyndon Neri, Rossana Hu; Associate -in-charge: Zhao Lei; Design team: Ivy Feng, Tian Hua, Wenbo Da, Joy Han, Mingxuan Wei, Nicolas Fardet, July Huang, Lyuqitiao Wang
 Beijing Jianyan Urban Renewal Engineering Technology Co. LTD.
 LDI: Questing Building (Beijing) Technology Co., LTD; Lighting: Linea Light (China) CO., LTD.
 Zhu Runzi

Curriculum

Founded in 2004 by partners Lyndon Neri and Rossana Hu, Neri&Hu Design and Research Office is an inter-disciplinary architectural design practice based in Shanghai. The practice’s burgeoning global portfolio includes commissions ranging from master planning and architecture, to interior design, installation, furniture, product, branding and graphic works. Currently working on projects in many countries, Neri&Hu is composed of multi-cultural staff who speak over 30 different languages. The diversity of the team reinforces a core vision for the practice: to respond to a global worldview incorporating overlapping design disciplines for a new paradigm in architecture.

Neri&Hu’s location is purposeful. With Shanghai considered a new global frontier, Neri&Hu is in the immediate center of this contemporary chaos. The city’s cultural, urban, and historic contexts function as a point of departure for design inquiries that span across a wide spectrum of scales.

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