WAN Awards 2018


WAN Jobs
News Review
WAN Urban Challenge
WAN Awards
Previous Next

The Transformer, Zhongshan, China

Friday 30 May 2014

Final element to Butterfly District on site

The Transformer by John Curran Architects in Zhongshan, China
Images: John Curran Architects 
The Transformer by John Curran Architects in Zhongshan, China The Transformer by John Curran Architects in Zhongshan, China The Transformer by John Curran Architects in Zhongshan, China The Transformer by John Curran Architects in Zhongshan, China The Transformer by John Curran Architects in Zhongshan, China The Transformer by John Curran Architects in Zhongshan, China
Your comments on this project

No. of Comments: 1

Add comments | More comments

01/06/14 Kieran Curran, Limerick
Looks great, it's heart is in the right place - focus on community.

Construction underway on the Transformer, the final component in 24hr Zhongshan hub 

Construction of the 'Transformer’ has commenced on site this month in the centre of Zhongshan City in the south of China.

Designed by John Curran Architects, the Transformer is a 24-hour community hub combining culture, commerce & entertainment, marking the east gateway into the ‘Butterfly District’ - a recently completed creative business district for local entrepreneurs to interact within a vibrant neighbourhood of pedestrianised laneways and a central square.

The Transformer is a dream come true for the client - local based husband and wife developer team, Nelson & Jane Li, President & CEO, Best Chance Ltd, and completes the vision for their Butterfly District, first conceived 7 years ago with John Curran.

A ‘Bookcase’ tower of start-up office spaces is stacked on top of a ‘Table’ structure of restaurants, shops and entertainment attractions. The client curates an existing art gallery in the neighbouring building; this art gallery is extended outdoors onto the ledges of the new building.

The Transformer visibly transforms itself and its neighbourhood as the large art panels, commissioned from local and international artists, mutate over time in sync with the programme of events happening in the adjacent art space.

The development aspires to the idea of neighbourhood building, giving the streets their own unique cultural flavour - an alternative model to the internalised shopping malls that have rapidly proliferated across cities in China. 

The laneways of the Butterfly District pass through the Table structure as an open triple-height gallery of shops, effectively providing 24-hour access to the ‘Lantern’ cinemas sitting on top of the Table, and finally emerging onto a Rooftop Plaza called the ‘Feng Shui Cloud’, overlooking the surrounding City and mountain range on the horizon.

The client believes this project reflects Zhongshan’s desire for a greater choice of new destinations in tune with China’s 24 hour lifestyle. John Curran, design principal of John Curran Architects, commented: "The Butterfly District and in particular its latest arrival the Transformer, tries to embed contemporary culture in a living market place, and as a community focused development model is relevant to other second and third tier cities around China, trying to reinvent themselves and create a ‘Name Card’ for their future."

The project is also an interesting commentary on the power of social media in China. ‘WeiXin’, the Chinese version of WeChat, has been instrumental in broadcasting bulletins of cultural events happening at the heart of the Butterfly District, elevating the status of the office accommodation as a highly desirable address in Zhongshan City, reflected in the 100% occupancy of the previous completed phases.


Client: Best Chance Ltd
Design Architects: John Curran Architects
Local Design Institute: Zhongshan Youfu Engineering Design Ltd

Key Facts

Client Best Chance Ltd
Status Under construction
Value 0(m€)
John Curran Architects

More projects by this architect

Vanke Plaza

Zhoushan Sports Stadium

Reinventing Cities

Click here to view the NEWS IN PICTURES tablet site