The design of industrial architecture presents a considerable challenge, since certain factors such as the industrial workflow and the conditions for the workers and machinery provide the guidelines for the development of the project. However, in many cases, industrial projects are designed without further exploration in terms of materials or construction systems, aiming simply to comply with regulations.
This month we want to highlight the Organic Farm in Tangshan by Chinese firm ARCHSTUDIO, a project in which an interesting structural and conceptual exploration results in a new industrial architectural intention, and which also generates new public spaces to promote a relationship with the nearby community through the construction.
Read on for our interview with ARCHSTUDIO about this Organic Farm.
The concept of "translucent space," and the materials you selected, are an interesting choice for a project of industrial character. Can you tell us more about these decisions in terms of spatial organization and the materials used?
The research we made at the initial design stage finds that early grain mills originated from farm houses. With agricultural development, food processing machinery becomes more and more sophisticated, and housing spans became wider and wider, and small mills gradually evolved into industrial factories. But this kind of factory is often a dull and boring industrial building, and interior and exterior are completely separated. The design of a space should make people who work there happy. Therefore, we hope this organic farm maintains the feelings of a farm home, while providing a large span to meet the needs for food processing. These considerations naturally bring the idea of a courtyard-style building and natural wood structural materials. In addition, organic food emphasizes the nature of ingredients, free of chemical fertilizer, and this characteristic of the food and brand image can be enhanced through the impression of space.
Could you tell us more about the decision process for the composition of the building? In the process model image you show some different layouts before deciding upon the "grand courtyard" building, but always looking to the Siheyuan courtyard house typology.
We considered different building module units during the process, as well as different ways to combine them. These modules included square, rectangular and slope units. Some plan compositions were arranged according to the area that each part of the building needed. The design needs to create a working atmosphere in a vast field. Our original idea was some scattered buildings, like those in a small village. But this approach would have been too fragmented, which is not good for management. Afterwards, we intended to design this farm in both a scattered and gathered way. With this intention, we chose 2.1 meter, 4.2 meter, and 8.4 meter frame structures, and made a concept that created a space with various spans in one sloping roof, and all these are based on the prototype of the Siheyuan typology.
How did this decision about using the Siheyuan typology in the design composition help the internal workflow of the program?
The Siheyuan is a type of architecture which is enclosed on four sides, opening to the courtyard on the inside. In this design, the raw grain storage room is in the north, the grinding mill and oil pressing workshop are in the east and west, and the packaging area is in the south; these simply correspond to the working process from raw materials to packaging. Each of the four factories has an independent exit for vehicular transport and also has an exit facing the central courtyard, which is used as the grain-sunning ground.
What is the contribution you were looking to add to the community?
The farm is open and approachable from the surroundings. We hope that it is not only a factory, but also a "garden" for leisure. People can relax and have fun in the open external corridors and different-sized landscape courtyards. Many workers in the farm are locals, so we hope that the house brings them a warm feeling and becomes a place with collective memory.
What is the routine of the farm and what kind of equipment do they use?
At present the farm mainly makes some organic foods, including flour, millet, peanut oil, soybean oil, sesame oil and so on. The main processing periods are in the spring and autumn. The owner recently added a brewery into the raw grain storage room. Some old equipment was brought here from Sichuan, and the first batch of brewed liquor has been completed and stored. The farm is equipped with some small processing equipment, such as a grinding machine, oil pressing machine and so on.
How does the ventilation and light work inside the buildings?
Ventilation is one of the important considerations while designing, because processing workshops generate dust. Our solution was to combine natural ventilation with mechanical exhaust. There are high windows on the walls, and their positions were designed with the consideration of airflow movement, so they are good for ventilation. There are also vents under the eaves and at the top of walls, so hot air rises to cause air circulation which is suitable for food storage. The polycarbonate panel walls have good light transmission performance, which endows the working space with a soft lighting environment.
36 From the architect. The project is located in the farmland on the fringe area of Guye district, Tangshan. Villages and houses are scattered around. The site is a rectangular flat land covers an area of 6000m².