North Zone Silk Factory

Design: 2016
Construction: 2016

Wuzhen, in the northern Zhejiang Province, is known for its traditional architectural heritage, a quaint country town tread lightly by industry along its canals. At odds with the urban planning laws that mandated the removal of preexisting industrial buildings, Chen Xianghong, developer of Wuzhen, secured the preservation of one such structure, the North Zone Silk Factory.

Built before the modernization of China, the Silk Factory employed a construction technique quite efficient in material: elaborate concrete trusses supporting a traditional wooden roof frame. The construction gives a unique character to each hall, establishing the basis of our design: to remove the elements unnecessary for the integrity of the factory, with the resulting volumes both pure and adaptive to the contemporary art within. The preexisting infrastructure gives dimension to these volumes through natural lighting from skylights to windows, establishing a communicative relationship with the outside. Through the renovative process, the structural integrity of the preexisting infrastructure is preserved while the original human qualities of the workspace are recovered, transubstantiating the North Zone Silk Factory into an exhibition space.