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Appreciations towards AAI·LifeWay studio for providing the following description:


time becomes poetry, time and space contrast


Protect the concrete memory of the city, let the “old objects” regain new vitality, and create the interweaving of time through space exhibition, academy, which tells a unique story and traditional culture, stands on the Wenruitang river of Wenzhou’s mother river.

▼建筑外观,external view of the building ©曾江河


The wind blew tang River



Since the formation of the Jin Dynasty, the Wenruitang River has been flowing silently for nearly two thousand years. It is guarding the land of Wenzhou, witnessing the endless changes of events and the traces of people and things staying in a hurry. It is in this process that cities and high-rise buildings have sprung up, and countless once prosperous places have been gradually eroded by the wind and become witnesses only from afar, and finally dissipated in the miasma of time.

For such buildings, is time allowed to erode them mercilessly? Or leave an objective record? Or collect them as fine art? The owners and designers jointly write their own answers on the Bank of the Wenruitang River, giving an old building in the late Ming and early Qing Dynasties unique vitality of the current era through a new perspective, so that carved beams and painted pillars can open up again.

▼雕梁画栋,carved beams and painted pillars ©AAI·里未设计


This old building in the late Ming and early Qing Dynasties has been in disrepair for a long time. The mottled bricks and broken walls show its old age. Due to the function and actual protection needs, the condition that the old building must be placed at the second floor height undoubtedly increases the difficulty of design and implementation.

▼改造前建筑原貌,original condition of the building ©AAI·里未设计


However, the designers gave a satisfactory answer: they completed the crossing of several hundred years in the new and old space, carried the space theme of “let Wenzhou return to Wenzhou”, and make the old buildings knowable, perceptible and usable. This is the place spirit conveyed by  Academy.

▼设计草图,design sketch ©AAI·里未设计


Time becomes a poem


Academy is divided into “ancient” and “modern” parts, in which “ancient” space takes the old buildings in the late Ming Dynasty as the core to visually present historical slices, while “modern” space is related to creating a poetic spatial experience sequence.

▼分解轴测图,exploded axonometric ©AAI·里未设计


To bridge the time dislocation between new and old buildings, in addition to emphasizing the “unity of painting style” in style, material, color and many other details, more importantly, starting from the user’s experience, “reshape” a series of historical monumental old places, so as to create dialogue between new buildings and make tradition and modernity centripetal and indivisible.

▼顶视图,top view ©曾江河

▼鸟瞰,aerial view ©曾江河


With the title of “nine gardens and twelve sceneries”, the designer contrasts with the layout structure of nine mountains when Guo Pu built the city in the history of Wenzhou. The garden, a space element loved by traditional literati, and related garden management techniques have been used in space modeling for many times, and used as a clue to connect the main scene nodes.

▼九园十二景,nine gardens and twelve sceneries ©AAI·里未设计


From the beginning of the entrance space sequence, the building has created an atmosphere beyond the pyrotechnic atmosphere, which naturally connects with the traffic intensive streets and the city with bright lights, but also just alienates. The bluish gray brick facade and the old buildings are like the old book cover waiting to be opened, which indicates that the visitors are about to enter the space story context constructed by time.

▼项目沿街立面,facade of the project along the street ©曾江河

▼若隐若现的老建筑,partly hidden old buildings ©曾江河


After the long corridor composed of bamboo rows, you come to the courtyard with a sense of tranquility. The rhythm of space is like the description in the peach blossom garden that “At the beginning, it was extreme narrow, and it could only pass through people. After walking dozens of steps, it suddenly enlightened”. And a beam of sky light poured down from the top of the head, and on the courtyard background composed of dark gray, it fainted and dyed a thread of wonderful and unreachable Zen.

▼竹列构成的长廊,corridor defined by rows of bamboos ©曾江河

▼竹列构成的长廊,corridor defined by rows of bamboos ©曾江河

▼庭院,courtyard ©曾江河


The water courtyard sequence decorated by sturdy pines organizes the scenery hall and the two-story rainbow cloud corridor, which become the focus of the “modern” space: overlooking by the railing, water and wood facing each other, indoor and outdoor, virtual and real, heavy architectural background and light natural scenery, and together outline a pair of ancient ink painting.

▼水院,water courtyard ©曾江河

▼松树装点的空间,space decorated by pine trees ©王厅


Among them, the semicircle stretched cloud corridor plays the role of landscape surface, gray space and path: the “Sky water” and “Ground water” double courtyards with different design heights separate things through the cloud corridor, and then penetrate each other visually through the transparent glass surface; the overlapping water body infiltrates the natural charm and intention into the flexible interface of the corridor gray space; and sounds of water and trees reflect each other, but light and shadow alternate between them.

▼云廊,cloud corridor ©Holi河狸景观


Further to the west, there is a narrow corridor connecting the “ancient” and “modern” spaces. The redundant decoration is eliminated, and the skylight introduced from the long window at the top is emphasized. Under the guidance of light, the ritual sense of place and marching behavior is magnified infinitely, and the progression from “modern” space to “ancient” space is also played up as the bedding of emotion.

▼没有多余装饰的长廊,long corridor with limited decoration ©王厅

▼长条天窗引入天光,skylight introducing sunlight into the space ©王厅


In the “ancient” space, the old building in the late Ming Dynasty was raised to the second floor height by the designer and wrapped by translucent metal mesh. The two-layer facade system with rich light and shadow effects set off the hazy and illusory ancient buildings. With the visitors moving forward, the visual diffraction between the two facades will present a dynamic visual illusion in front of the audience, showing the life tension of jumping out of the quiet space background. Between architecture and landscape, between entity and reflection, and between light and shadow, are time stories shared by “ancient” and “modern”.

old building wrapped by translucent metal mesh ©曾江河


Spatiotemporal contrast



How to make the elements and spirit of the old buildings more deeply integrated into the space and the user’s behavior has become a continuous concern of designers in the space of Academy.

In addition to regenerating old buildings into accessible and usable places, designers further deconstruct the contrast between “past” and “present”, so that the ancient and modern space debris can penetrate into each other in more detail and thoroughly. The modern vocabulary composed of glass and metal dramatizes in the old buildings with hundreds of years of history, forming a conflict and harmonious relationship with the simple and elegant beams and rafters. The courtyard of Sishuiguitang builds the daylighting space of the meeting hall. The geometric lamps show the modern sense of design while setting the scene of rain like waterfall hundreds of years ago. The once most important ritual space has become a stage for friends to speak freely.

▼接待大厅,reception hall ©曾江河

▼会客厅,meeting hall ©曾江河


The old structure and exquisite wood carvings in the hall space form a gray space with more rich levels – shuttling through the colonnade, looking up to appreciate the still beautiful old objects. The elements of the new and old space are constantly wrestling with people’s actions, and the scenes of the users are also seamless switching between ancient and modern times.

▼老构架在大堂中星恒层级丰富的灰空间,old structure creating rich gray spaces in the lobby ©王厅

▼柱廊,colonnade ©王厅


Sometimes the details of old buildings are more fragmented: the single column in the teahouse retains the most primitive color and shape of the late Ming Dynasty, just like a bystander through time and space, talking with glass curtain walls and revolving stairs in silence. Even if the behavior (tea tasting) around it continues the tradition it once witnessed, it still presents a new scene and highlights the contrast tension involved in the clue of “time”.

▼茶室,tea room ©王厅


The implication of “ancient” is also involved in the arrangement of new architectural vocabulary: the circular frame of the fifth facade can just hold a corner eaves and a bamboo, which is a brand-new Chinese painting sketch against the blue sky; the glass of the first grade sets the proportion of the screen on the facade, and the literati’s aesthetic interest in the garden is fully displayed in the corner of the building.

▼屋顶上的圆形取景框,circular opening of the roof framing the view to the sky ©Holi河狸景观


“Ancient” and “modern” are no longer just spectators of each other, but in the process of mutual influence and penetration, the clues of context and time and space bring influence to the two different nodes on the time line respectively, implicating each other, so as to achieve balance.

▼现代的园林,modern Chinese garden ©王厅


Ancient and modern landscape, ancient and modern mirror



▼立面细部,details of the facade ©王厅

Architectural fragments, design techniques, materials and colors together create an indelible montage impression: memories, prospects and remolding.

When the appearance and technique are stripped, only the purest essence remains – let the old buildings become sustainable participants in the process of the city rather than shelved collections. The metaphor of space and time depicts the visitors’ experience with strong sense of context, and stitches the boundary between the new and the old with design. These are what the designers want to achieve in Academy.

▼一层平面图,first floor plan ©AAI·里未设计

▼二层平面图,second floor plan ©AAI·里未设计

▼立面图,elevations ©AAI·里未设计

▼剖面图,sections ©AAI·里未设计

主创及设计团队:里未设计 | 方治国,杜少峰,罗启闻,包晋晋,黎超,郑墨,骆铭树,林钰桢,赵桐,李可欣(实习生)

Project Name: WenZhou Academy
Design: AAI·LifeWay studio
Website: http://www.aai-arch.com
Contact e-mail: marketing@aai-arch.com
Design & Completion Year: 2020.04-2021.11
Leader Designer & Team: LifeWay studio | Bill Fang, Shaofeng Du, Leslie Luo, Elvis Bao, Chao Li, Mo Zheng, Mingshu Luo, Yuzhen Lin, Tong Zhao, Kexin Li
Project Location: 68 Maanchi West Road, Lucheng District, Wenzhou City, Zhejiang Province, China
Gross Built Area: 2241.2㎡
Photo Credits: Zeng Jianghe, Wang Ting, Holi-Beaver landscape photography
Partners: Zhejiang Tianran Architecture Design Co. LTD;Zhongnan Institute of Curtain Wall Design Research;Landau International Design;Beijing Newsdays;Shenzhen Matte Lighting Design Consultant Co. LTD;Zhejiang Xinbang Construction Co. LTD; Anhui Cunzhentang Ancient Architecture Engineering Co. LTD

More: AAI·里未设计。更多关于他们,请至:AAI·LifeWay studio on gooood



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