Steven Holl Architects were awarded first prize in the design competition to redevelop the site of the oxygen and boiler plants in Hangzhou.
The master plan includes residential towers and an international urban exposition center, and integrates functions like an art gallery, restaurants, and performance and exhibition spaces.
The scheme, based on the concept of Shan-Shui, meaning mountain and water, builds on Hangzhou’s relationship with West Lake.
At the heart of the bow-tie plan is an Earth and Water Tower, which act as a vertical gathering of the water and mountain zone. From this central position in the large site, one tower branches north towards tributary forms approaching the oxygen sector, while the other branches south toward landscape forms at the boiler sector.
There are six large-scale elements which hover between landform and architecture. The new elements intersect and transform the existing factory buildings; invigorating them with new programs.
A round tower rising from a water pond branches out to provide pedestrian circulation to the North. This glass tower houses offices with retail space at the base and a restaurant and event space at the top.
A new zone of recreational waterstrips, parklike and open to views from the main highway, identifies the center of the whole project. Thin buildings offer a variety of housing types: Live/work lofts for artists in residence, service apartments and boutique design hotels can be found in this new green zone of trees and waterscape.
The lantern towers take inspiration from the old stone lanterns in West Lake, setting “fire over water.” Photovoltaic glass curtain walls gather the sun’s energy during the day. At night, one elevation of each tower glows via special Fresnel glass, reflecting the day’s energy in the water.
Piercing the oxygen plant building walls, green arcs provide functional connections and service programs such as cafes, W.C., bicycle storage and information kiosks. These low and light-weight glass arcades have open sides and green roofs.
At the center of the site, the Mountain Tower is joined via an escalator bridge to an event space at the top to the Water Tower. This tower of translucent ceramic skin and green roofs branches to a landscape of faceted green mounds at the Boiler buildings.
At the far west of the Boiler buildings, a tilted landform of natural grasses is punctured for light. Hovering over a large public water garden, the structure is a dodecahedron truss which contains a hotel, restaurants and cafes. In events where the large Boiler building is used for an Expo, the water garden has a platform floor allowing for it to be used as an exhibition and grand entrance.
The basic renovation strategy is to clean and minimally restore the existing building shells, inserting a new ground floor with radiant heat and cooling connected to geothermal wells. This will provide an economic and sustainable temperature climate for the buildings.
Within the minimally restored shells of the Oxygen and Boiler plants, new experimental architectural forms, designed by a variety of talented artists and architects, may take on functions of cafes, bars, and exhibit or