North Zone Silk Factory
The town of Wuzhen is famous for its traditional architectural heritage. However, before the advent of tourism, it was a quaint country town with some light industry, most notably a silk factory bordering the canal. Chen Xianghong, the developer of Wuzhen, fought the urban planning laws that mandated the removal of the buildings, and secured the preservation of the factory as well as the underappreciated memory of its recent past.
The existing structures, adapted as galleries, were cleared of all additions, and preserved in their raw state. The existing doors, windows and skylights create cross views to the interior street, as well as a unique quality of light. Our goal was to use these existing features to create an open and interesting relationship with the outside. The spatial character of each hall emerges both from the relationship with the outside and from the craft of its construction.
The resulting layer of context creates a network of possible installation strategies, in opposition to the neutral white box of current Chinese exhibition centres. Thus, the original human qualities of the workspace were recovered and preserved with their transformation into a new home for the biennial Wuzhen Art Festival of contemporary art.
Ai Wei Wei, Maya Lin, Studio Job, Florentin Hoffman and Richard Deacon were among the thirty various international artist that displayed in the inaugural Art Festival.