the shanghai based practice, interval architects, has designed a new botanic art center in the hebei province of china. the ‘tower of bricks’ project is located between a wetland park and the city of hengshui.
after a government plan to convert the wetland into a botanic park, the scheme called for the design of an art center in the existing hoffman brick kiln, which was previously abandoned on the site.
southwest façade, all images courtesy of interval architects
the concept behind the architect‘s design aims to recall the history of the kiln within the new architecture. the new botanic art center is mainly a gallery showcasing plants, potteries and floral art. the new building is therefore a public facility that contrasts with the old kiln which was a building purely for industrial production. with the intention to connect to the spatial history of the place, the art center has a massing and composition that refers to the old kiln but is programmed with contemporary functions and experiences.
overlooking the west façade by the lake
the observation tower preserves the symbol of the former chimney and it has been made accessible allowing people to ‘climb up the chimney.’ the composition of the botanic art center conceptually refers to the old hoffman kiln with a looped and vaulted space that surrounds a central courtyard. along the vaulted arcade, several courtyards are proposed and break the spatial continuity, creating a connection between the interior and exterior.
various patterns of stacking bricks are used on the façade in order to generate translucency, which breaks the solidity and heaviness of the brick wall. the façade of the interior courtyard is made more translucent in order to imply the publicness of the space. the observation tower is clad with bricks stacked more openly, to allow more light into the the tower and weaken its heaviness. while the design of the tower of bricks has a reference to a traditional kiln, the new architecture holds a contemporary position in terms of the idea of publicness, connectivity to the environment and user experience. interval architects creates a space that extends people’s memory of the existing kiln, resulting in an architecture that connects history with the future.
main entrance plaza
overlooking east façade by the lake
night view of the restaurant
inner courtyard entrance
inner courtyard overlooking the tower
detail of the brick façade
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edited by: lynne myers | designboom