Xihoudu historical site is located at the junction of Shanxi, Shaanxi and Henan provinces. Mountain Zhongtiao to the north, Mountain Hua to the south, the site is close to the corner of the curving Yellow River. It is one of the most important archaeological sites of ancient human activities, where the remains of fire first used by human back to 1.8 million years ago, was founded in early 1960s. It was enlisted in the third group of the national key cultural relic sites.
▼项目鸟瞰，aerial view of the project ©曹百强
The 2nd Youth Games of the People’s Republic of China was to be hosted in Shanxi in 2019, and the former Xihoudu holy fire plaza was planned to be updated for the event. The challenge is to have a new design without dismantling the existing facilities. By integrating the holy fire plaza with its surroundings, we have created a mystical, spiritual and philosophical place, which reinterprets the traditional Chinese philosophy — man is an integral part of the nature.
▼分解轴测图，exploded axonometric ©都市实践
▼广场与周边景观融合在一起，integrate the plaza with its surroundings ©上：曹百强，下：曾天培
▼圣火广场与原文物陈列馆、村庄的关系，relationship between the plaza, the original Cultural Artifacts Exhibition Gallery and the village ©曾天培
The extremely short construction period and the severe cold weather condition have forced the creative usage of GRC to mimic the local soil, in order to make the design blend into the Loess Plateau as an integral whole.
▼仿土混凝土与周边环境相协调，GRC mimicking the soil to blend into the environment ©曾天培
A new holy fire park is planned without disturbing the archaeological stratum. “Discovery of fire”, “Rite of fire” and “Conquest of fire” constitute a trilogy for the narrative of the fire in the human civilization.
▼山洞入口，entrance of the cave ©曹百强
Visit begins from the original Cultural Artifacts Exhibition Gallery at the hill foot. The entrance of the mountaintop experience exhibition hall is located in the middle of the hill. The deep cave leads the visitors away from the modern setting into a primitive space-time. The former fire seed collecting terrace structure is still reserved with new surface finish, and it is wrapped by the cave with mysterious natural lights.
▼重新包裹的原取火台，renovated fire seed collecting terrace ©曾天培
▼山顶体验展示厅中粗犷的材质与阳光，mountaintop experience exhibition hall with rough material and sun light ©曹百强
The discovery of fire is a groundbreaking milestone in the human civilization. This historical moment is illustrated with a beam of light cutting through the cave which delivers the heaven “fire” to the human beings. The angle between the solar altitude and the building axis is calculated for the time of the flame gathering, so as to make an eye-catching moment that the angle of sunlight is to be exactly overlapped with the “slot view of sky” at that time.
▼山顶体验展厅中的一线天，“slot view of sky” in the mountaintop experience exhibition hall ©曾天培
Fire enables human beings to live indoors, and tunes their shouts into whispers. The acoustic installation is designed based on the Chinese Ocarina – XUN, and makes the sound pierce through the caves to connect the heaven with the earth.
▼声音装置，acoustic installation ©曾天培
▼山顶体验展厅声音装置上部，upper part of the acoustic installation in the mountaintop experience exhibition hall ©曾天培
The stands on the “Rite of fire” square recycle the material of the former holy fire plaza built in 2016, and their configuration refers to the surrounding topographic features. These stands form a perfect viewing platform for the surrounding sceneries of Mountain Hua and the Yellow River.
▼观景台，sight viewing platform ©曾天培
This project also managed to recover the west of the site from the junk yard left by the former construction. This is executed by digging trenches to minimize the job load for restoring the natural landscape. This creates a mazy path symbolizing a tough journey of human beings for the “Conquest of Fire”. In the future, this place will become an open museum. The ends of the trenches naturally form five cantilever platforms, overlooking the spectacular Loess Plateau, rugged archaeological site and beautiful Sichuan Pepper field.
▼核桃树下迷宫般的巷道，mazy path under the walnut trees ©曾天培
▼北侧挑出的观景台，cantilevered viewing platform at the northern side ©曾天培
The redesigned holy fire plaza is modest, natural and mysterious, bringing visitors into a primitive scene to experience the grandest part of the Yellow River and one of the most influential archaeological sites in China. At the same time, being the holy fire lit place of the 2nd Youth Games of the People’s Republic of China, it is remembered in the contemporary sports history of China.
▼ 傍晚从洞口看洞内的声音装置，view to the acoustic installation from the entrance of the cave in the dusk ©曹百强
▼ 一线天夜景，night view of the “slot view of sky” ©曹百强
建筑&景观设计团队: 王坤 李永才 汪蕾 高子絮
艺术顾问：牟森| 马原驰 梅悦子
结构设计：HJI/荷捷顾问 | 李永明 赵艳国
Project Location: Ruicheng County, Shanxi Province
Client: The Government of Ruicheng County
Design Period: 2018.6-2018.10
Construction Period: 2018.11-2019.3
Site Area: 11,056㎡
Floor Area: 980㎡
Principal Architect: Wang Hui
Team: Li Yali, Wang Kun, Li Yongcai, Wang Lei, Gao Zixu
Art Consultant: Mou Sen | Ma Yuanchi, Mei Yuezi;
Structural Design: H&J International | Li Yongming, Zhao Yanguo
Contractors: Shanxi Xijian Group Co., Ltd. (General Contractor), Beijing Baogui Stone Art & Scientific and Technological Co.,Ltd. (GRC Supplier), Beijing Huayun Garden Engineering Co., Ltd (Interior Finish)
Photographers: Cao Baiqiang, Zeng Tianpei