Unrestrained Growth with a Dance of Light and Shadows

Shanghai Benzhe Architecture Design as Architects

Located at Jinhai Road of Pudong New Area, the original site of FOR Space was a bathing place converted from an old factory building of monotonous spatial arrangement. It had fall into disrepair, lacking any distinct features of industrial building or historical value.

 

When refurbishing, Benzhe Architecture, based on a firm grasp of the seven independent buildings at the site, abandoned the original spatial pattern. A systematic spatial reconstruction allows a creative use of the space with flexible combinations of differential units, excepted to promote the sustainable development of surrounding areas, which reflects the active role of architectural design in urban renewal.

 

Next to the main building stood the For Art Center, a giant breathing glass box serving as both bookstore and performance venue. The elevation of its curtain wall is enriched by the arrangement and combination of metal framework poles, with the delicacy of glass and the sturdiness of metal forming a sharp contrast. The rough and cold old metal truss is retained in the rearranged top space, where the implantation of log canopy softens the atmosphere. The interior space is rendered breathable and endowed with new vitality by the natural lighting introduced inside through the new skylight, which contrasts with the simple and smooth floor of air-faced concrete.

 

After a bold makeover, the left and right sides of the façade of the U-shaped main building now takes on a completely different look that the boringly flat walls are transformed into well-arranged three-dimensional space. A staircase of black weathering steel hanging on the outside of walls is like unrestrained thick branches sprawling towards different directions, which demonstrates the sense of rhythm and strong tension of new architecture and interprets the style of post-modernism.

 

Following a natural and warm hall, there is a stairway where a cluster of sunshine light specks spill from a wall full of holes, which makes up the lighting in the interior space.

 

Transformed into a spiritual fortress, the tower now functions to provide guidance. On the second floor and above of the main building, multiple buildings are linked up by the criss-cross corridors. For people shuttling back and forth between the buildings, a private place to rest as well as a platform for exploration and communication is offered.

 

Building No.7 used to be a two-storey building, but for various reasons it is now reduced to only one floor. As the only single-storey building among this complex, it appears to be much shorter than the others. To make up for its lack of height, building No. 7 is renewed by raising up the gable wall, with a rest platform constructed to add open-air landscape. The structure of façade is rearranged only by the red bricks to create an integration between the new and the old, as well as rendering the originally simple and chaotic functional space clearer. The cramped feeling of flat space is dissipated by the brick surface orderly protruding from side walls and the empty window at the corner of two walls, which constitute a unique feature.

 

Well-coordinated with surrounding buildings, building No. 4 expresses the most simple and natural properties of architecture, as its main body consists of cast-in-place concrete walls of wood grain and corrugated steel plates. Meanwhile, the sunken lounge with waterscape provides a space for leisure and social activities.

 

Redbrick buildings and Western-style mansions from the Republican period are preserved as the main part of the architectural complex, while the old gate at the entrance is replaced by an industrial bronze archway, resulting in a more refined and exquisite sight. With modern aesthetics and Chinese element blended inside, the kernel of Shanghai-style architecture is thus elevated, as moderate vitality and healing power permeate the space.

 

FOR Space is the expanding and reconstructing of the relation between time and space. Through redistribution of architectural space, the old buildings are given a new life and enabled to satisfy future needs for functional space, which reflects the inclusiveness of urban renewal.. Benzhe Architecture is on the way of practicing the relations among architecture, human and nature.

 

Materials Used:
Concrete, iron rusty slate, copper, log, red brick

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