Adapting to a new role

Nick Myall
Thursday 03 May 2018

This project in China is a good example of adaptive reuse as a Power Plant converts to an Arts Centre...

Benoy has unveiled ‘The Hangzhou Canal Art Center’ – a unique future development occupying the site of a former thermal power plant in Hangzhou, China.

Set within the Gongshu district which is currently undergoing a wider regeneration, the building sits adjacent to the Joy City Hangzhou mixed-use scheme which Benoy is also designing, and forms the cultural beacon for the area’s future development.

The brief called for Benoy to reflect on the evolution of the site from a once functioning thermo-electric plant to a new, green arts complex. As such, the design focuses on integrating with its surroundings, the natural landscape and existing thoroughfares, whilst presenting a united community space for the city; one which will become a hive of activity and support art exhibitions, weekend markets, sports and cultural pursuits and leisurely recreation.

Explaining Benoy’s approach to the design, Director Qin Pang said, “We deliberately broke down the massing of the building, mixing public space into the development. We then blurred the boundaries between indoor and outdoor through the use of spatial concepts such as courtyards, corridors and semi-open Spaces.”

By adding multiple entrances and allowing the landscaping from the neighbouring urban park to flow into the scheme, Benoy’s design has come together to create a new type of public environment which melds into the existing cityscape.

The physical design of the 14,000 sq m Hangzhou Canal Art Centre is simple, clean and restrained. The façade material is mainly plain concrete, weather resistant steel plates, wood and metal mesh. Using simple and reserved materials and textures allows the building ‘to become a canvas for the activity within and around the scheme’, explained the Benoy design team.

Through its considered design, the building is set to become part of the city’s texture, a landmark which embraces the community and delivers quality public space for the city. Representing the conversion of a once industrial area into a lively community, the Hangzhou Canal Arts Center brings a new lease of life to the district and for those who live within and enjoy it.

The scheme is due to open to the public at the end of 2018.


Nick Myall

News editor

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