How to regenerate in urban fields where the collision of old and new culture happens? This project tries to bring up an answer for how to grow an effective cultural landmark that links to the past at the same time functions well for the ever-shifting contemporary urban landscape.
▼傍晚的HeyTown艺术中心与高架铁路，HeyTown Art Center near the elevated railway ©孙海霆
背景 | Background
The site is located only 5km east to Beijing’s CBD, and is right in the middle of an isolated and forgotten diamond-shaped land intersected by serval railroads and divided into fragments. While the rest of the city undergoes a rapid development, this urban enclave hidden in some declining industrial plant buildings have remain uncultivated in the past 3 decades.
▼被铁轨割据出的菱形“飞地”，diamond-shaped land intersected by serval railroads © META-工作室
The client’s long-term goal is to regenerate these spaces though bringing in cultural and creative industries, so that it connects the surrounding neighborhoods currently separated by the railroads, and gradually building up a mixed-use community of 140,000 square meters.
As the lead architect for the 2nd stage of the community, we try to revitalize this urban enclave through weaving together retail, recreational, F&B, and creative spaces for people with different needs. This Art Center was proposed in the core of the creative industry zone that infused diverse public program into a larger mixed-use community.
▼HeyTown艺术中心全景，HeyTown Art Center general view ©孙海霆
设计策略 | Design Strategy
▼“空间原型转换”设计策略，Spatial Prototype shift strategy © META-工作室
Our approach starts with answering the question of “How to transform an industrial space for productivity, to an art space targeting public engagement”. We work with the client and the local government together to eventually agree upon a rational design strategy that we brought up -“spatial prototype shift”: which appropriates the prototype of the saw-tooth shaped plant buildings, and adapts it to suit for the multiple program for the art center, and then translates it into a new composite spatial prototype designed to maximize the creative vitality that it will generate for the urban block.
The building volume twists at the end as it almost touches the elevated railway ©孙海霆
The exterior architectural presence is characterized by a perforated-folded metal cladding with saw-toothed volume that grows out of the shape of a plant building, and gradually extends forward, twisting at the end as it almost touches the elevated railway, forming a sense of ephemeral levitation. It also enriches the surrounding neighborhood’s dull skyline, not only with its decisive shape but also with its echoing to the ever-changing skylight.
The metal volume creates a sense of ephemeral levitation on top of the brick walls ©孙海霆
材料实现 | Materialization
To re-conceptualize the industrial past in a contemporary context, it is translated into the combination of 3 threads of materiality: the metal cladding that shifts between reflectivity and translucency interpreting the contemporary cultural sensitivity; the shadowing surface of red brick wall responding the historic character of the site; the large transparent glass openings and large pivot doors revealing the “inside” of the vessel to the public.
▼在反射性与半透明性间不断变化的金属表皮，the metal cladding shifts between reflectivity and translucency ©孙海霆
▼玻璃窗洞将内部事件展现给公众，the glass opening shows the activity inside to the public ©孙海霆
HeyTown Art Center features an aluminum façade wrapping around the entire suspended saw-tooth volume. Instead of perusing a smooth and sleek image of a definite “newness” that the usage of metal usually bring to such context, it was taken as an experiment on potential ‘natures’ of the aluminum: minimum angle of folding, jumping rhythm of corrugations, different ratio of perforation, extreme strength of the metal for vertical span, enhanced reflectivity…all together to achieve a tangible and frictional experience of the architecture that is in constant “dialogue” with its surroundings, and to create a tension from the site’s past towards its future.
▼建筑与周边场域之间的对话，the building in dialogue with its surroundings ©孙海霆
▼金属材料呈现出特殊的“摩擦感” ，the metal shows a unique “friction” ©孙海霆
In the daytime, the folded cladding brilliantly captures the changing light conditions with its varying angles, like a series of prismatic mirrors echoing the sky. At the evening begins, the semi-reflective volume starts to illuminate itself and the cold reflection gradually turning into warm translucency from the top to the bottom. The constant overlapping of such ambiguous light experience throughout the day, adds an elusive narrative to the spatial context.
The ambiguous sense of light in the setting sun creates an elusive narrative to the spatial context ©孙海霆
▼傍晚的HeyTown艺术中心与高架铁路，HeyTown Art Center near the elevated railway ©孙海霆
▼漂浮在高架铁路一侧的HeyTown艺术中心，HeyTown Art Center floating beside the railway ©孙海霆
内容 | Program
▼HeyTown艺术中心主体由三段组成，HeyTown Art Center consists of three sections © META-工作室
The building, with 3,300sqm, consists in three basic segments: entrance hall with HeyGallery on the second floor, connected through a large spiral stair; central space that switches between a theater with 500 seats or open up as exhibition space with a series of large pivot doors opening to the plaza; back of house zone with function rooms. In addition, there are also a bookstore/shop, an art education studio, a double-floor linear gallery, among many other support spaces.
▼西侧入口挑廊及门厅，west entrance and lobby ©彭柏诚
▼通向二层HeyGallery展廊的公共螺旋楼梯，the public spiral staircase leading to the exhibition halls on the second floor ©孙海霆
Such spatial arrangement is assembled to maximize the adaptability to different scenarios of indoor-outdoor program. Since its official opening in August 2020, a series of public/art activities have been launched in HeyTown Art Center: YiXi speech, Feinaki 2020 Beijing Animation Week, “ODE to life” – MODERN SKY Conference , contemporary art exhibition, drama performance, urban renewal forum, Beijing International Design Week, etc. These activities are then connnected into a “Symbiotic Cultural Festival” which continuously radiates its energy to the city.
▼剖透视-可在多种活动场景之间切换的复合空间，sectional perspective © META-工作室
▼多功能活动空间内部，multi-functional hall ©西店记忆FUNSTOWN
▼在HeyTown艺术中心进行的一席演讲，speech given at HeyTown Art Center ©方淳
与城市连接 | Connecting to the City
With connecting the pedestrian passages under and along the urban infrastructure – several railway lines, HeyTown Art Center joins together multiple public access. Through the density of the events it generates, the art center weaves together surrounding public amenities for people with different needs. With the plaza to its side provides more open space where people can spend time for curated community events and daily activities, they double as the cultural core of a larger urban regeneration zone, and become a “social condenser”.
▼傍晚的HeyTown艺术中心与一旁的开放广场，HeyTown Art Center and the outdoor square ©孙海霆
结语 | Conclusion
After 30 years of hyper urban development, Beijing has been slowing down in recent few years, and moved towards reinvigorating some of its missing parts. We work with the client at this particular moment, attaching great meaning to the art center’s striking silhouette, seeing it as an engine to one of the city’s new creative industry district.
▼建筑为场域带来敏锐而富有生气的天际线，The building brings a sharp and vibrant skyline to the site ©孙海霆
The HeyTown Art Center works as a complex of exhibition space and performance space, it gathers people from all over the city and invigorate the community through arts. The surrounding neighborhoods benefit from the integration of the public events, and get to rebuild their everyday life towards social coherence.
Seeing from people’s enthusiasm to it since its completion, HeyTown Art Center has already been regarded as the core engine that drives the urban regeneration in the area. All together It makes the project much more than just a place for Arts – it is a place for gathering and sharing in a city scale, and an anchor point of the urban renewal in Beijing.
▼从西侧转角看向建筑一旁的开放广场，view to the square from the building’s west corner ©孙海霆
▼场地平面图，site plan © META-工作室
▼一层平面图，1F plan © META-工作室
▼二层平面图，2F plan © META-工作室
▼立面节点图，facade construction details © META-工作室
▼墙身节点图，wall construction details © META-工作室
▼立面模块示意，facade module diagram © META-工作室