Pudong Hoffman Brick Kiln (referred to as "Pudong Red Kiln") is located in Laogang Town, Nanhui, Pudong. It is a typical Hoffman Kiln. Patented by German Friedrich Hoffmann in 1858, the kiln features as a ring passageway surrounded by small rooms. It was widely used over the world because of its efficient use of heat and fuel. It began to appear on the landscape of Shanghai in the early 20th century.
The red kiln on the site had already lost its original function for long. Roof and walls were collapsed and damaged, buried by soil and overgrown with weeds. The site sits on the edge of an underused golf course bounded by a canal that flows from the center of the town to the East China Sea. As the site will be transformed into a suburban leisure park in the future, the red kiln will also be transformed from the ruins of production into a public place.
Hoffmann kilns was so common in the last century, yet few has been kept. It is also difficult to use the space while retain its original atmosphere. The renovation attempts to not only retain its classic layout, materials, and scale, but also amplify the usability and spatial charm of the place.
The site cleaning, reinforcement and design work of this project are carried out simultaneously. Although the damaged old brick arches had been informally strengthened with steel structures, the typology of space still remains. Inside the brick kiln, the circular tunnel, passage, and openings all repeat the motif of arch. Walking through it is like being in the industrial universe of brick-burning era of 19th century.
During the design process we found that the closed flue in the middle can be opened into the outer ring. The connections between the two was originally used for smoke exhaust. They are transformed into door openings.
This operation adds shortcuts multipaths to the original circular circulation. The flue in the middle is narrow and enclosed, without natural light. We replace the concrete floor above into glass, and add roof skylights to form a light well, which illuminates both the flue and the ring passageway. Standing beneath the skylight, visitors can look up at the towering chimney, which is the symbol of the entire site.
Daylight floods into the dark ring through the arches, just like porch around patio or atrium. The arches on the other side of the ring are the climatic boundaries, creating private pockets looking to the landscape.
The flue of the brick kiln and its cavity are important parts of air treatment during burning process. The cavity is now accommodating MEP, which continues the system logic of brick production. The original vent holes scattered on the ceiling are reserved for lighting and spraying, and the lower exhaust holes are used as air-conditioning outlets.
The second floor of the building is a multi-purpose hall. The façade is kept transparent, with verandas on both first and second floors as evacuation and viewing platforms. Arches on the east facade resonate the arch motif of interior space. An old brick stairway on the east is kept and an evacuation stair is added. On the west, the original passage close to the chimney is used for evacuation, to preserve the original spatial relationship of the kiln as much as possible.
Shanghai is one of the cities that opened port earliest in the 19th century. The introduction of the Hoffman kiln exemplified the industrialization of its suburban economy. The renovation of the red kiln does not only use abandoned industrial forms as relics to display, but turning the process space into a framework to underpin the possibility of contemporary lifestyle. In addition to the space value, the old kiln starts to generate a greater social value.
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