Tower of Bricks / Interval Architects

Tower of Bricks / Interval Architects - Brick, Facade
Inner courtyard overlooking tower. Image © Zhi Geng

Tower of Bricks / Interval Architects - Windows, Brick, FacadeTower of Bricks / Interval Architects - Brick, Arch, ArcadeTower of Bricks / Interval Architects - BrickTower of Bricks / Interval Architects - Windows, BeamTower of Bricks / Interval Architects - More Images+ 59

  • Associate Design Institutes: Orient Liho, Beijing New Era Architectural Design Ltd.
  • Client: Hengshui Botanic Park
  • Principal In Charge: Oscar KO, Yunduan GU
  • Design Team: Oscar KO, Yunduan GU, Zexing YUE, Xianmei HU, Jing CHEN, Jin HUANG
  • City: Hengshui
  • Country: China
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Tower of Bricks / Interval Architects - Image 1 of 64
Overlooking west façade by the lake. Image © Zhi Geng

Place and history
The project began with an abandoned Hoffman brick kiln. The site of the kiln was located between Hengshui wetland park and the city proper of Hengshui. It was formerly a place where factories nearby used to drain their sewage water onto. As the only building on wetland, the brick kiln was highly recognizable with its chimney. However the Hoffman kiln was gradually abandoned due to the national policy that banned the burning of bricks out of clay as an environmental protection measure. The building condition declined to a collapsing condition eventually. With the new governmental plan to convert the wetland into a botanic park, the project called for the design of a botanic art center on the site. We decided that the memory and history of the old kiln has to be recalled and remembered with the new architecture. We hope to connect the past and the present of the place with the project.

Tower of Bricks / Interval Architects - Brick, Arch, Arcade
Vaulted restaurant. Image © Zhi Geng

Reconstruction ≠ Replication
The new botanic art center is mainly a gallery showcasing plants, potteries and floral art.  The new architecture is therefore a public facility that contrasts with the old kiln which was a introversive building purely for industrial production.  With the intention to connect to the spatial history of the place, the new botanic art center has a massing and spatial composition that references to the old kiln but programmed with contemporary functions and experience.  In doing so, the past and the future of the site are conceptually connected.  The observation tower preserves the symbol and memory of the former chimney and the accessibility of the tower allows people to "climb up the chimney". 

Tower of Bricks / Interval Architects - Facade
West entrance. Image © Zhi Geng

Transformation from introversion to publicness
While the old kiln was an industrial building with no public access, the new botanic art center opens to the public as an cultural and exhibition architecture.  The spatial composition of the botanic art center conceptually refers to the old Hoffman kiln with a looped and vaulted space surrounds a central courtyard. 

Tower of Bricks / Interval Architects - Image 36 of 64
Hoffman Kiln. Image Courtesy of Searle, Alfred Broadhead
Tower of Bricks / Interval Architects - Brick, Facade, Arcade, Arch
Inner courtyard. Image © Zhi Geng
First floor plan

Along the vaulted arcade, several courtyards are proposed and breaks the spatial continuity of the space, creating a blurred boundary between landscape and architecture, between interior and exterior, while also connects the inner central courtyard with the bigger environment.  The roof garden of the podium also opens up the building and created unique viewing experience outwards.  Courtyards are also proposed in between restaurants and kitchen at the northen and southern end of the building and allows better natural light into the dinning space.

Tower of Bricks / Interval Architects - Brick, Facade, Stairs
Courtyard by the restaurant. Image © Zhi Geng

Vaulted arcade as exhibition space
As opposed to a continous vault in a Hoffman kiln, the arcarde of the botanic art center is composed of a series of vaults which shows a visual and experiential progression of spaces in relation with light.  The sequential setting of vaults defines seprate but interconnected galleries that house exhibition and records the relationship between space, light and shadow. 

Tower of Bricks / Interval Architects - Arcade, Arch
Vaulted galleries. Image © Zhi Geng

From chimney to tower
Every traditional kiln has a chimney and many people has the idea to climb on it.  The proposition of an observation tower is reminiscent of the chimney and allows people to access the "chimney" with its four viewing platforms at different alttitudes, which offers different views and experiences of the botanic park. 

Tower of Bricks / Interval Architects - Brick
East façade. Image © Zhi Geng
Tower of Bricks / Interval Architects - Facade
© Zhi Geng

Materiality, light and shadow
Bricks were used as the main materials throughout the architecture and become a medium to recall the lost materiality and texture of the place.  Various kind of stacking patterns of bricks area used on the facade in order to generate translucency, which breaks the solidity and heaviness of brick wall, allows different light and shadow effects and promote the sense of publicness.  For instance, facade of the interior courtyards are made more translucent in order to imply the publicness of the space.  The observation tower are cladded with bricks stacked more porously to allow more light into the the tower and weaken the heaviness of the tower.

Tower of Bricks / Interval Architects - Brick, Stairs, Facade, Arch, Arcade
Gallery entrance. Image © Zhi Geng
Tower of Bricks / Interval Architects - Brick
Inside of the tower. Image © Zhi Geng

While the design of the Tower of Bricks has a reference to a traditional kiln, the new architecture holds a contemporary position in terms of the idea of publicness, connectivity to the environment and user experience.   It emotionally extends local people's memory of the existence of a kiln.  It is an architecture that connects history with future.   

Tower of Bricks / Interval Architects - Windows, Beam
Light, shadow and translucency. Image © Zhi Geng

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Project location

Address:Hengshui Botanic Park, Hebei Province, China

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Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
About this office
Cite: "Tower of Bricks / Interval Architects" 03 Dec 2018. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

Overlooking west façade by the lake. Image © Zhi Geng

湿地中的红砖塔 / 空格建筑

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