Though the site is only 3-kilometer away from the Railway Station, covering the distance between the two locations one would enter a quiet village abruptly from the intense urban area. Surrounded by the city undergoing development, this village is also expecting the arrival of capital and commerce. This last village is called the Village of Jin.
The site, located at the northeast corner of the Jin Village, used to be a temporary real estate sales office. The local government took it over after its completion of the initial function and tended to convert it into a memorial museum.
The original irregular-shaped scope of the site was not approved in the land transfer. The property line of the renovation project was confined to a rectangular area within the existing wall. And a 15-meter-wide public space was required to be arranged on the east side.
The planning was obviously in place to prepare for future development. And development would often erase the memory of the site. No matter the site is in the current village state or the future commercial state, we feel the need to attend to its memory jointly constructed by time, emotion and spatial language. And that could only be obtained when visitors experience the site with their own steps.
In that case the openness is crucial. Though inside the museum there was lots of uncertainty regarding the exhibits, opening time and management, the public space outside the memory museum could be fully opened and accessible via multiple routes.
On the other hand, the courtyard is the physical space prototype rooted deep in the memory of this land.
We organized the public spaces and paths with void volumes of overlapping courtyards, and placed the courtyard in a backward posture to obtain enough distance from the noisy main road.In the main urban interface, the courtyard fully absorbs the pedestrians and landscape of the city streets in an open state.
After entering the courtyard from the West Ring Road, everything goes quiet. Walking in the interweaved courtyard space, trees and sunlight appears alternately. In the courtyards of various scales and proportions, the different states of this land can be read.
Within the limits of the property line, we divided the non-exhibition auxiliary functions into two separate entity volumes, and apposed them alongside the original building. The two entities were assigned the function of public toilet and administrative office respectively.The walk through those entities feels like the walk on the lanes of the traditional villages south of the Yangtze River. In the tall narrow space, one can feel the current atmosphere more clearly.
The volume and the wall form a semi-enclosed space and participates in the presentation of the environment outside. The blue sky, the green shades and the villages flickers during one’s walk.
Entering the main exhibition hall from the courtyard outside, the halls in different sizes interweave with each other and slowly unfold. The light enters the exhibition hall from the top and the lateral. The brightness and shade change rhythmically in the space.
We reorganized the interior space in a diagonal way, drawing the outdoor light and environment into the indoor space. It enables the visitors to recall the courtyard they just passed during their walk through the exhibition.
In the continuous diagonal space, the original structure is not only consciously preserved but also set as the protagonist of the space to adjust the rhythm of the room. These columns in dark gray stand upright in the white exhibition hall, just like trees standing in the courtyard outside, giving off their own breath.
Wrapping up the indoor visit and returning back to the outdoor area, the first space one encounter is an introverted and quiet square courtyard where visitors could release their emotion and reach inner peace. The indoor and outdoor courtyard space are hence connected at this point.
Due to the radical change of the character of the space after the innovation, we wanted to minimize the commercial atmosphere of the original building, but at the same time we didn't want the it to disappear completely. We believe that even though the original building was temporary, it constitutes the ‘memory’ of this land for that particular period of time. Therefore, we adopted a series of strategies to establish the relationship between the new and old buildings.
Mask and Exposure: The highest courtyard wall is equal to the height of the original building. For the main facade along the West Ring Street, we use the overlapping courtyard wall to cover the main facade of the original building to create a quiet atmosphere. On the other sides of the facade, part of the new volume is exposed by juxtaposing with the existing building.
Break and Construct: We partially removed the original exterior wall to break the interface between the building and the environment, so as to expand the exhibition hall and establish a positive connection with the outdoor. On the other hand, through the re-establishment of the architectural boundary, the scenery and light of the site are introduced into the space and organized effectively. The tension of the space is strengthened.
Separate and Joint: Through the separation strategy, the volume and courtyard on the site are presented as ‘individuals‘ and similar to the village residences in scale. Though the physical volumes are separated, the space is joint together which lead to tension.
The exterior walls of the old houses in the south of the Yangtze River had a particular white and gray texture. We used it as a reference for the external façade material.We used dark gray art paint as the background, and the workers painted the wall in a way that the handmade touch was retained. White paint mixed with top paint was then spayed on the surface. Since the wall absorbed the coating in a random and uneven way, the finished façade has a white and grey variation in texture.
In order to preserve the independence and integrity of the courtyard, we designed the layout of the quartzite in detail. The paving of the quartzite bricks corresponds to the orientation of the courtyard. The tiles are paved densely and in accordance to the beams in the space. Brickslot drainage ditches are adopted and placed between these bricks.
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