‘2x Repurposed industrial boiler room in the city of Taiyuan turned into an airy gallery by CLOU architects.’
The boiler room had originally been built in 1982 in the city of Taiyuan, P.R. China. Real estate developer Vanke acquired the decommissioned structure and opened it as a sales room in 2010 after a renovation by Urbanus Architects. In 2016, in the course of only four months, the building was stripped to its original structure for a second time, reinforced, and once more converted into a showroom by CLOU architects. Apart from serving as a sales gallery, CLOU won over the client to operate the 2000 sqm showroom as a public building including a library, reading room, conference centre and a café.
Previously dark and cavernous, CLOU architects open up the structure of the boiler room using a combination of transparent and translucent glass brick in order for the building to harbour light while adding pre-function and lounge spaces around the main hall. The boiler room exterior, now made interior, is painted bright red to give depth to the façade during the day. Glass bricks, readily available, were an ideal choice of façade material, given the breakneck speed of the renovation, and the desire to maximize the transformation with minimal means. The opacity of the glass walls changes gradually throughout the day according to the position of the sun while strong LED up-lights along the walls create a red ‘lantern effect’ at night.
The black and white columns embellish the structure and provide the spatial framework for the main hall. To create a bright and airy ambience, CLOU used white terrazzo flooring, Venetian plasters walls, chrome light boxes and ceilings with Barrisol surfaces. The white finishes amplify the natural daylight that is radiated throughout the façade. In contrast, oak shelving and brown leather furniture create pockets of warm atmosphere for reading and other sedentary activities.
As a positive example for adaptive re-use of buildings ‘The Cube, City of Lights’ opened its doors to the public of Taiyuan on January 10th 2017.