The Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge (henceforth Grand Bridge, as it was nicknamed nationwide), a pioneering national monument completed in 1968, was the first double-decked bridge over the Yangtze River designed and built without foreign assistance. After several rounds of study and a national design competition during the period from 1958 to 1964, in search for a proper visual expression of Chinese socialist movement, the design proposal of the bridgehead by young teacher Zhong Xunzheng was finally chosen and built as a canonical piece in the history of Chinese modern architecture.
Perspective drawing of the design proposal of the bridgehead of the Grand Bridge. Hand drawing by Zhong Xunzheng©Zhong Xunzheng ©钟训正
Digital restoration of the south-bank construction site of the Grand Bridge ©苏彤/LanD Studio
In March 2015, the Nanjing Railway Development Group commissioned Professor Lu Andong of Nanjing University to complete the regeneration plan of the bridge park of the Grand Bridge. In November 2015, Professor Lu Andong initiated the Memory Project of Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge, bringing together the Nanjing University, the Municipal Government, the Nanjing University of the Arts and the Nanjing Railway Section of the Shanghai Railway Bureau to support a series of bottom-up campaigns to collect, study, exhibit and revitalize the diverse and complex memories associated with the Grand Bridge and use them as resources for contemporary place-making.
▼《南京长江大桥记忆计划》公众手册封面，cover of the public pamphlet of the Memory Project of the Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge ©LanD Studio 2015
From October 2016, the highway deck of the Grand Bridge began its first closed overhaul since completion, until the end of 2018. In order to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the completion of the Grand Bridge (1968-2018), the Shanghai Railway Bureau decided to renovate the South Bridgehead during the overhaul and turn it into the Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge Museum to display the Grand Bridge’s abundant history and memory. The Shanghai Railway Bureau commissioned LanD Studio to conduct the renovation design of the bridgehead and the exhibition design of the museum, and the Institute of Architecture Design and Planning of Nanjing University to undertake the construction. Professor Lu Andong proposed to use the museum project as both the physical agency of the Memory Project of Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge and the hub of place-making around the Grand Bridge. The renovation design was developed along this thread of thought.
The primary function of the bridgehead is to provide two vertical traffic volumes from the bridge park to the highway deck and the viewing platforms above. The interior of both volumes contains stairs and elevators. Between these two traffic towers, there are four piers connecting the steel structure of the main part of the bridge and the concrete structure of the approach bridge. The very four piers define a grandiose hall space with monumental scale and a blindstory above it and below the railway deck.
the positions of the central hall and the blindstory inside the bridgehead ©LanD Studio
The museum occupies the ground floor and includes the central hall, two entrance halls inside the traffic volumes on either side of the central hall, as well as the auxiliary space under the river-viewing platform on the north side of the bridgehead. Before the renovation, the original spatial layout of the bridgehead was chaotic, the interior was severely damaged, and the indoor environment was dim and humid. Therefore, the original condition of the bridgehead could not meet the needs of contemporary exhibition.
▼ 桥头堡改造前状况，interior of the bridgehead before renovation ©LanD Studio
The renovation design went through several rounds of adjustments. On one hand, the bridgehead itself has exceptional historical value and was restored based on the conservation standard of cultural relics on the provincial level. As the conservation work progressed, the attachments and inappropriate modifications to the original building were removed, and details of the original appearance of the bridgehead were gradually revealed. The renovation design had to adjust to the new findings about the original building. On the other hand, as the Memory Project of the Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge was conducted, many participants in the original construction of the bridge, as well as many collectors and citizens donated a large amount of precious historical documents and artifacts, and the renovation design had to adapt to the growing collections.
▼南京长江大桥陈列馆外观，exterior of the Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge Museum ©侯博文
floor plan of the Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge Museum ©LanD Studio
The renovation proposal evolved in three stages. Stage 1: March 2015 to May 2016, Integrative plan of the exterior and the interior. Through research of the entries in the national design competition in 1960, Professor Andong Lu discovered that the bridgehead was composed of the typical spatial features of traditional ceremonial architecture, such as podium, axis and sequence. Therefore, the interior space of the bridgehead should be regarded as an intrinsic part of the overall spatial composition. Based on this understanding, the first scheme extended the visitor’s circulation northward and connect it to the river-viewing platform on the rooftop, in order to formulate an elaborate sequence of exterior open space – interior exhibition space – exterior landscape space. (Figure 9-12)
spatial composition of the bridgehead ©LanD Studio
typological analysis of the spatial compositions of the bridgehead in the competition entries in 1960 ©LanD Studio
▼桥头堡外景，exterior of the bridgehead ©侯博文
▼ 堡内外空间整合方案轴测图（2015. 3-2016.5），
axonometric view of the initial design proposal integrating the exterior and the interior (2015.3-2016.5) ©LanD Studio
Stage 2: June 2016 to September 2016, counterclockwise interior circulation scheme. After several rounds of adjustments, the spatial structure and design ideas of each room were decided.
Axonometric view of the counterclockwise circulation scheme (2016.10-2018.10) ©LanD Studio
Stage 3: October 2016 to October 2018, implementation phase. The team invited Professor Zhang Xin of Tsinghua University to consult on indoor lighting design, interior design firm FANAF to conduct interior construction drawing design, and Professor Tao Feifei of the Nanjing University of the Arts to provide visual and graphic design, and responded to the ongoing conservation work undertaken by Professor Chun Qing of Southeast University.
axonometric view of the final design scheme (2016.10-2018.10) ©LanD Studio
There is a sharp contrast between the spatial scales of the central hall and two side halls. According to the circulation plan, the exhibition starts from the east entrance hall (a), then enters into the central hall (b), then proceed to the west entrance hall (C), moving northward into the auxiliary spaces, before turning around back into the entrance hall. One would feel strong contrasts in both scale and atmosphere along this itinerary. Therefore, the exhibition design needs to respond to the various spatial scales and atmospheres and build up relationships among these spaces.
On the other hand, the exhibition is comprised of a large number of everyday objects and tools around the memory of the Grand Bridge. Most of these things are associated with the body and behaviors in everyday life. Our design was confronted with the crucial problem of presenting human-scale exhibits in a supra-human space of commemorative scale. We have finally come up with the interior design which balances the different scales among the exhibition rooms and naturally integrates the grand spaces with the intimate exhibits by controlling the measurement, applying proper materials and refining the building details.
▼中央大厅，central hall ©侯博文
▼大桥相关物品（依次为：藤编安全帽、潜水服头盔、热水瓶、工程师陈昌言笔记、日文解说词，老照片），1960s-1970s memory objects of the Grand Bridge (from upper left to lower right: straw helmet of workers, helmet of the diving suit, thermos, Japanese tourist guidebook, family portrait) ©南京长江大桥记忆计划/LanD Studio
The design attempts to strengthen the continuity and relevance between the exhibition facilities and the original space, as well as between the exhibition facilities in different spaces by connecting the scale of exhibition facilities with the spatial elements and component scales of the bridgehead building itself.
On the façade of the bridgehead, there is a reference line started from the canopy upon the gate of the east entrance poche, along the upper edge of beam of central hall gate, to the canopy of the west entrance poche. The refence line could also be noticed from inner side by the second parting line up from the skirting line. Therefore, the height is regarded as a horizontal control reference for the interior.
In the east and west entrance halls, the locating and sizing of the display cases in exhibition walls refer to the gate and windows on the façade.
In the central hall, all the display items seem minuscule comparing to the gigantic space. Therefore, we abolished the general vertical interface to display and built several open cabinets with niche spaces to define the ergonomic exhibition space. Visitors would only slightly bow when enjoying an exhibit and the sense of immersion increases. In addition, a pair of customized black sandblasted metal display shelves displayed 22 pieces of metal reliefs, which were the same set with the ones inlaid on the railing of the Grand Bridge’s highway deck. The pair of display shelves carefully separated the two flanking areas for viewing the exhibition from the ceremonial central area for gathering. Professor Zhang Xin’s team uses artificial lighting to mimic the effect of outdoor sun lighting and in the meanwhile, adds new spotlights to illuminate the cast-iron relief plaques and the huge plaster statue of Chairman Mao.
using niched cabinets and ground display shelves to mediate the gigantic scale of the central hall ©侯博文
▼一号厅改造前, the central hall before renovation ©LanD Studio
▼ 一号厅改造后 The central hall after renovation © 侯博文
Visual and tactile treatments of the materials were applied in the exhibition facilities to coordinate them to or contrast them with the site at different levels. A large number of different colors of terrazzo and prefabricated slabs were used inside the bridgehead. The newly added materials in this design are mainly vacuum stone, glass wool board and sandblasted steel plate.
In the entrance hall, the surfaces of the exhibition wall and showcases are finished with light-grey glass wool which harmonizes with the original terrazzo interior wall in sense of color while contrast with the terrazzo in sense of touch. The light-grey material also interact with the similar colored artificial stone from the doors and window sets on the facade. As a whole, the grey tone brings out the major exhibition items: three pieces of hand-carved wood reliefs depicting the critical moments of Chinese revolution, and a collection of old radio-sets decorated with icons of the Grand Bridge. The radio sets play selected old songs dedicated to the bridge.
▼门厅，entrance hal © 侯博文
The south wall of the central hall integrates the door beam by continuing the light grey glass wool material from entrance hall. Either end of the south wall extends northwards to form the showcase. The material of the display herein has changed to a light-colored vacuum slab which looks similar to terrazzo floor, revealing the reinforcement of the spatial commemoration. In the meanwhile, the thick exhibition wall turns the two side doorways into poches and solves the height difference between the central hall and the entrance halls within the poche. The main material of the surface of the niche space in the showcase is a special PVC which has a similar texture to corroded steel, which matches the solemnity of the hall.
▼一号厅展墙，exhibition wall in the central hall © 侯博文
As the exhibition route extends to the hall No.2, the light-colored material converts to black ones which are coordinated with the black ferrous showcase, indicating that the exhibition theme has changed. The black exhibition wall extending toward north has strengthened the guidance.
▼二号厅，the west entrance hall © 侯博文
The Wiki-memory installation was installed into hall No.3. This installation was made of stainless steel and acrylic sheet. In hall No.4, a curved exhibition shelf was added surrounding the 16-meter long wooden model of the Grand Bridge and provided comments for it in a humble way.
▼ 三号厅，wiki-Memory installation in Hall No.3 © 侯博文
▼ 四号厅，Hall No.4 © 侯博文
All the exhibition facilities are of light weight construction attached to the cultural relics to adapt to future adjustments of display. Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge is a built heritage with complex historical connotations while the understanding and interpretation from the society are still being deepened and expanded. Therefore, our design only aimed to give a proper response to a state in process.
On February 2, 2019, the Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge Museum was officially opened to the public. In September 2019, on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge (Museum) was selected as a national patriotism education demonstration base.
▼南京长江大桥陈列馆外景，exterior of Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge Museum © 侯博文
Project title: Renovation and museum design of the Bridgehead of the Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge
Project site: Bridge park of the Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge, Nanjing
Interior area: 1500㎡
Lead architect: Lu Andong
Site architect: Yang Yue
Design Team: Yang Yue; Cui Aohan, Zhang Limeng, Wang Quelian; Jiang Lan, Zhou Yang; Su Tong, Wu Zhengrong; Wang Qiurui, Xu Yiyi, Pan Lumeng, Zhang Yuan, Chen Chen, Liu Xinzi, Qiu Jiayue, Huang Zien, Cheng Jingyu
Interior design: LanD Studio/ Institute of Architecture Design and Planning of Nanjing University
Exhibition design：LanD Studio/ Institute of Architecture Design and Planning of Nanjing University
Lighting design: Zhang Xin/X Studio, School of Architecture, Tsinghua University.
Interior construction drawing design: Jin Xin/FANAF
Visual design: Tao Feifei/Nanjing University of the Arts
Electromechanical design: Institute of Architecture Design and Planning of Nanjing University
Project Management: Institute of Architecture Design and Planning of Nanjing University
Construction: Nantong Huayu Building Decoration Co., Ltd.
Design cycle: 2016.06-2018.10
Construction cycle: 2018.06-2019.01
Photography: Hou Bowen